So last summer, if you happened to be watching this blog, you might have noticed a feature in the sidebar on all the amazing ice cream we found, or this post, which mentions Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream. People, this ice cream, it’s fantastic. It’s fair to say I’ve never had better in the American style, where the milk and cream flavors predominate. We got to go there again this summer, and as we sat in the shop, (me alternately closing my eyes, making noises of food bliss, and trying to eat faster so that Bryan wouldn’t get it all) I happened to glance over and saw this book sitting on the shelf above the freezer. The cover said Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home. Expletives may possibly have left my lips, followed by, “is that what I think it is?!?” We live a long way from Ohio, people, and it’s been a while since I’ve been this excited by a book at first sight.
It turns out this book, it’s about as splendid as can be. Not just a couple of recipes from the shop—I’m pretty sure every recipe she had at publication is in there. It’s open source dessert: complete with sauces, candies for mixing in, toppings, sundae recipes, and the exact techniques you need to get the texture and flavor of her ice cream yourself. Which are, have I mentioned, amazing?
It’s cherry season where we are now (in Michigan) and when we voted on which cherry dessert to make, sorbet was the winner. I had left the book at home, but between memory and experimentation I was able to replicate a sorbet recipe. When we got our hands on another copy, it turned out the amount of sugar that we decided was perfect, it was what Jeni already specified. A note about the corn syrup: this is not something I would normally buy. But if you read the book or visit the shops, it will be clear to you as it is to me that Jeni is as passionate about quality fresh ingredients, local and organic sourcing, and above all flavor and texture, as anyone could possibly be. She is also passionate about the science of ice cream and getting the exact result she is after, and therefore I bought corn syrup. More experimentation on my part will come later. As a foodie friend of ours said (after eating the sweet corn and black raspberry flavor that we made), “Whatever that book says, you should do it.” For minimum stress levels, make this the day before you want to serve it, so that you’re sure everything will have time to chill and freeze.
Tart Cherry Sorbet à la Jeni’s
1 quart fresh tart cherries, pitted. If you don’t have a cherry pitter, I find the easiest way is to hold the cherry in the fingertips of both hands, and use your two thumbs to split it open and pull out the pit. It’s ok that the cherries come out in two uneven halves, because the next step is to purée them in a food processor until fairly smooth. It’s ok if the purée is a little bit chunky and/or still has some bits of cherry skin visible.
Combine the fruit with 3/4 cup sugar (I used natural cane sugar) and 1/3 cup light corn syrup in a medium saucepan, and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Immediately remove from the heat, pour into a bowl, and put in the refrigerator to chill for at least two hours.
Stir in 1 tablespoon kirsch (unsweetened eau de vie distilled from cherries). Jeni’s original recipe uses lambic or sour beer, and it’s effervescent and delicious. Amaretto instead of kirsch would also be really, really good.
Pour the cold sorbet mixture into your ice cream freezer and spin until it’s just the consistency of very softly whipped cream, or barely pourable. This book advises that whipping it too long while it’s freezing will result in too much air being mixed in. Bryan and I had a big debate about what “barely pourable” means, but despite that and with two experimental batches under my belt, I actually suspect that there’s a bit of leeway here. I also suspect that if you don’t have a ice cream maker, you could just stick the mixture in a tub in your freezer and as long as you remembered to get it out and stir it fairly frequently for a while, it would come out pretty great. Anyway, if you are using an ice cream maker, once you think it’s frozen enough, pour it into a container and put it in the freezer until firm, at least 4 hours. This book advises pressing a sheet of wax or parchment paper onto the surface.
This was as good as it looks, maybe better, with amazingly intense cherry flavor. Possibly even better eaten side by side with a creamy flavor, like the roasted pistachio. I’m out of superlatives. Go eat this!