I Scream for Ice Cream

3 Aug

Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman. 🙂

There are two things I love making in the kitchen.  One, is cookies.  Just love them, the whole process.  I love looking at the recipes, meezing out the ingredients, creaming, shaping, and baking.  Not to forget sharing them with friends and eating them myself.  The other kitchen project that I utterly adore is making ice cream.  I don’t get to make it all the time.  Sometimes I think I should, but chances are I would consume all of it.

Ice cream.  What is it about ice cream?  Looking back on my childhood I can recall going to dairy queens or baskin robbins.  High end or premium ice cream really did not exist when I was growing up.  Local ice cream did exist such as Strohs or Ray’s.  every kid loves ice cream growing up.  Nobody really dislikes it or hates it, unless you are lactose intolerant.  Even those who are have a difficult time giving up such a creamy luxury.  As a kid you think ice cream is kinda like magic.  It is creamy like milk, but cold, frozen cold.  It is like a yogurt, but not, it has a special texture.  And chances are your parents did not make it at home, so one can not really see how this dessert is made, unless you have the coolest day care in town.

Yes, I learned how ice cream was made in my Montessori day care.  The experiences I had in the day care between the ages of 6-10 were the best.  So much time for one to use their imagination, lots of time outdoors, and always fun.  Totally centered around fun.  Unlike the catholic day care I was sent to when I left Montessori that kept my sister and I locked up inside in a cafeteria. Boooooooering.  Anyways back to the ice cream.

One day one of the day care supervisors decided it would  be a good idea for us to make ice cream.  Not the kinda that you plug and wait.  A good old-fashioned hand crank machine so all the kids could crank on it to make the magic of ice cream happen.  The teacher showed us the cream base, the ice that surrounded the vessel, the salt that was added to the ice to help make it cold, and then what the cranking did.  Amazing!  This was how ice cream was made.  Nothing is cooler then this when you are 8.  All I wanted to do was make ice cream.  At that time those types of machines were expensive.  All I had was my Snoopy Snow Cone Machine, and yes I loved it too.

From that one experience in day care I kept up my love for making ice cream.  I got my own hand crank ice cream maker from Kmart when I was 11.  The base froze so there was no hassle with ice or salt.  In 8th grade I think my parents got an actual ice cream maker.  It still works today and it is a beast that makes 1 quart of ice cream.  When I was in college I bought my own ice cream maker that I plug in and the base freezes.  This is the same one I use today.  I have a few ice cream cookbooks Ben & Jerry’s (which was my bible), CIA Frozen Desserts Cookbook (awesome), and a few odd ones here and there.  The newest addition is Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Cookbook from Columbus, Ohio.  Wow!

So, not only do I like making ice cream.  I love eating it.  Some of my favorite ice cream places have been JP Licks in Boston, Penn State University College Creamery, Ray’s, Black Dog Gelato (new as well) and now Jeni’s.  Ruhlman wrote about Jeni briefly in a Columbus food tour and I had to learn more.  I ended up buying ice cream from her shop for my sister’s birthday.  What I managed to consume was the pear Riesling, lavender ????????, and buckeye state (vanilla ice cream with peanut butter and chocolate).  I could not stop eating it and I kept craving it.  When I knew Jeni was writing a book I had to pre-order it.  I needed to make her ice cream.

It has been so hot here in the Midwest.  Everyday is an ice cream day.  The Jeni’s Ice Cream Book was sitting on my nightstand waiting for me to make a recipe.  Yes, I read my cookbooks in the bedroom, they are great reading material.  I wanted to attempt something more daring, but Mr Big wanted plain jane vanilla.  That is what I made and what I will share with all of you.  Two interesting addition here in the recipe.  A) the use of cornstarch, which is a thickening agent for the base. B) cream cheese.  Yes, cream cheese.  This is what gives her ice creams a distinctive taste a naughty hook to lure you back in.

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Jeni’s Vanilla Ice Cream

Makes 1 quart (aka: 2-pints or 4 cups, it’s all the same yield)

2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1.5 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped out, seeds & bean reserved


  1. Make a slurry with the cornstarch and about 2 tablespoons of whole milk.  Be sure this slurry is smooth.  In a medium sized bowl whisk the cream cheese and salt until smooth.
  2. In a sauce pot  combine the milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup and vanilla seeds and bean.  Bring this to boil over medium high heat.  Once this cream mixture reaches a boil maintain it for 4 minutes then remove from the heat.  Gradually whisk in the slurry, return the pot to the burner and bring back to a boil.  Stir this mixture constantly with a heat proof spatula until slightly thickened.  About 1-2 minutes.  Remove this mixture from the heat again.
  3. Whisk this hot cream mixture into the bowl that has the cream cheese.  Mix until the base is smooth, you should see no chunks of the cream cheese.
  4. Either pour this mixture into a ziplock bag or cover the bowl with plastic wrap.  PLace on ice or in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or until the base is cool to the touch.
  5. Get your ice cream maker ready.  Be sure to follow the directions of your specific ice cream maker!  Some bases like mine need to be frozen before the ice cream base is made.
  6. Remove the vanilla bean from the base.  Slowly pour in the vanilla bean ice cream base into the ice cream machine.  Spin the ice cream until thick and creamy.  Once the desired consistency is reached, place the ice cream into containers and freeze or fold in any yummy ingredients like fruit, candy, nuts, etc….  Be sure the ice cream freezes for 4 hours.
  7. Scoop and enjoy.  BTW this ice cream is super creamy and goes well with cajeta.

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