Last summer while working super long days in Cleveland, I would stock the office kitchen with food for each meal of the day to avoid starvation. (It really was a good job.) The inevitable ice cream craving kicked in one night during a trip to the grocery store, so I made a beeline for the freezer section. Lo and behold, I discovered pints of ice cream demanding $9.99! Who were these pints and what gave them the nerve to think so highly of themselves?! Actually, the flavors sounded amazing, but I couldn’t justify spending so much.
I later asked friend and co-worker Leslie, “What is this ice cream and why is it so dang expensive?!” She then told me that Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams were really good and based in Columbus. Okay. I then looked up their website and proceeded to swoon over all of the flavors.
Fast forward a couple of weeks. I was out seeking ingredients for a Daring Cooks’ challenge which led me to a Trader Joe’s. However, distracted by the neighboring
toy store Sur la Table, I went in to indulge in a little self torture (no, you may NOT have that bundt pan!). Upon entering, the first thing staring me in the face was a book. More specifically, it was the Jeni’s Spendid Ice Creams cookbook. I snatched it up and began flipping through it totally neglecting the kitchen wonderland around me. “Oh, you just missed her!” the cashier told me as he rang up my prize. “Jeni was here yesterday signing books and giving out free samples.” Wah… “But we still have some ice cream in the back. Want some?” YES. He had dark chocolate ice cream and lemon frozen yogurt to offer. Character revealed: I chose the lemon and it was splendid, for sure.
The last ice cream appearance on this blog was July 5, 2011, before discovering Jeni’s. It is now mid-June. After returning from Cleveland, I moved from San Antonio to Austin and there simply hadn’t been enough space in the new freezer for my ice cream maker canister…until a few weeks ago!
I never would have thought that the flavor I chose would be my first Jeni’s venture, but recent visits to nearby farmers’ markets’ are to blame: basil! With peaches beginning to dominate the fruit scene, they seemed like a nice partner. Peach-swirled basil ice cream? Let’s!
The base of this ice cream was easy enough to make. It’s similar to other cream-based (as opposed to custard-based) recipes except that Jeni incorporates a cornstarch slurry for smoothness and cream cheese for tanginess. Torn basil is stirred into the base just before chilling and then strained out before churning.
Everything was going perfectly well and the basil base already tasted amazing. With confidence, I had even moved the process to the dining room table so that I’d have better light for photos. After pouring the base into the spinning machine, I waited for it to freeze. Five minutes went by, then ten. After 20, I was getting nervous as it hadn’t changed a bit when usually the ice cream would be pushing its way up the sides while solidifying. At this point, my memory kicked in: the day I was looking at this house as a prospective tenant, my (now) landlady and roommate were telling me how the freezer didn’t keep ice cream frozen even though it made ice. Doh! So after an hour(!) of no signs of freezing, I turned it off. The next resort was David Lebovitz’s tutorial for making ice cream without a machine, but of course this wasn’t going to work with a freezer too warm.
With ice cream that would only get slushy at best, the solution was obvious: basil peach milkshakes! With my immersion blender, I combined the ice cream-that-wasn’t with milk and the peach puree that I had made for the swirl. The result was a light, bright, summery treat that totally made up for what one could otherwise call a FAIL.
If you are the owner of a competent freezer and would like to make basil ice cream yourself, look for the Sweet Basil and Honeyed Pine Nut Ice Cream recipe on pages 76-77 of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home. If you need further persuasion to buy the book, its author (Jeni Britton Bauer) just recently won a James Beard Award for it!
Now, do I break down and buy an ice cream-dedicated mini freezer or stick to making milkshakes?