Friends, this post is fantastic. We’ve got Olivia Waite visiting! I wanted to preface it with what is (obviously the truth) in a positive message first. For me, I’m drinking right now. [Fill glass with ice. Add as much mango absolut as you like, then fill with limeade. You're welcome.] Life is … is. But this post totally made me smile. And wish I was a) close enough and b) good enough friends to stop by and visit Olivia. And demand ice cream.
Most of the time, I’m not much of a cook, but that’s because one cannot live on ice cream. (Though one has considered trying.) And ice cream is the thing that will get me to spend significant time in the kitchen.
It began with vanilla, the most underrated of flavors. Then strawberry, a delight. Then I got fancier and tried a mint-chocolate-chip recipe. This resulted in a disastrous, drippy brown log studded with powdery pillow mints that was the least appealing dessert I have ever seen in my life. I actually brought it to the party anyway, just to hear others confirm its repellant qualities. By tweaking the recipe, driven by fury and disappointment, I managed to produce a tasty green ice cream with tiny chocolate flakes in it — and then my roommate of the time suggested adding rum.
Her suggestion was inspired. And it started me thinking about ice cream as something other than an innocent children’s dessert.
Further experiments followed with varying success. Pear-ginger sorbet for a vegan friend’s wedding: marvelous! Orange-avocado sorbet: finicky! One batch failed, another was delicious. The whole time I was trolling for recipes on the internet, learning the ways of a new canister-based freezer rather than my old-fashioned ice-and-rock-salt electric churn, and feeling like I’d hit a plateau in terms of my ice-cream-concocting skills.
A chance conversation with the lovely Limecello on Twitter led me to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. The flavors were daring and sophisticated — sweet corn and black raspberries! Cherry lambic sorbet! And she had a cookbook full of recipes! I immediately promised myself I’d order a copy from my local independent bookstore the next time I was in.
Then a lightbulb burned out. I went downstairs for a new one, opened a drawer, and as if by magic there lay a copy of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home. An inscription on the inside cover told me it was a bridal gift that I had put away in a flurry of wedding-related stress and promptly forgotten.
I ran back upstairs, gleefully reported to Lime what I’d found, and arranged to try a recipe and blog about my results. I chose the Toasted Brioche Ice Cream with Butter and Jam in honor of my most recent release, Hell and Hellion — released yesterday! — which features a scene where my incubus hero discovers the pleasures of toast with butter.
Readers, this recipe was brilliant. I was anxious at first, since there were so many unfamiliar steps and ingredients. Corn starch and corn syrup? Was I really supposed to bring the cream to a boil? And was butter ice cream really a good idea in the first place? Jeni’s instructions were precise and detailed and I decided to trust her — grinding bread crumbs and clarifying butter and whipping the cream cheese in with the salt. By the time I poured the base into the freezer I was starting to grow optimistic. When I finally added the bread crumbs and raspberry sauce and took a bite, I’m not going to lie: I teared up a little.
This ice cream is thick and creamy and comforting. The bread crumbs add a savory note without being at all gritty. The raspberry sauce is bright and adds just the right balance of tart and sweet. It is the dessert equivalent of a jam sandwich and one of the most wonderfully British things I have ever tasted.
And the best part: I have enough ingredients left over to try a second recipe! As soon as the canister refreezes…
Olivia Waite writes historical and paranormal romance for Ellora’s Cave. She can’t decide which ice cream she wants to make next: Chamomile Chardonnay or Goat Cheese with Red Cherries.
Ms. Waite is also giving away a copy of Hell and Hellion – isn’t that an awesome title? So, what do you think of ice cream? Ever try to make it on your own? Ever have the opportunity to have Jeni’s Ice Cream? I personally have tried, and not done that well, but I don’t have a copy of that cookbook. I have been to Jeni’s before though, and if I could I’d move into one of her shops.