We caught up with Jeni Britton Bauer on the process behind crafting more than 100 recipes for her new cookbook and, most importantly, what dessert lovers can expect inside.
Jeni Britton Bauer will celebrate the release of her second cookbook, "Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream Desserts," this Friday at the Wexner Center for the Arts. In the meantime, we caught up with the founder of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams on the process behind crafting more than 100 recipes for the new book and, most importantly, what dessert lovers can expect inside.
Coming off your first cookbook and the James Beard Award, how did you approach this project? Did you find the process to be more difficult, more natural?
Probably neither. It took a long time before I considered [writing another cookbook]. I wrote the first one thinking it's the only ice cream book you'll ever need. But a couple years went by. I had new ice cream and new ideas. And my publisher sort of said, "Well, what do you think?" It became not just about one kind ice cream but as ice creams as different kinds of bases in desserts and about serving at home.
How much of this book is premeditation versus a product of just experimenting in the kitchen?
Almost all of it covers things we had already done, or backburner stuff-the exception being Creme sans Lait, a vegan base I had been experimenting with for a long time. Years. I never had any luck, but I settled on that come hell or high water I was going to make it work for this book.
Vegan ice cream? Tell me more about that.
Yes, the Creme sans Lait is a lactose-free, vegan ice cream without ice cream-but it's a really beautiful dessert on its own. When I passed it around the office on a final sort of take, people didn't know it wasn't made out of dairy. We actually made it a lot-bowl after bowl. Everybody has been trying to crack the code on vegan ice cream. Not only did we do it, but we did it on home machines for home kitchens.
Can you talk more about this idea of ice cream being one part of a dessert, not necessarily the dessert in and of itself?
Yes. It's sort of ice cream as an accessory. It can change the whole conversation. You can have a simple cake-a layered cake or maybe one with some powdered sugar on top. Well, what ice cream do you put with it? A ginger yogurt will bring out one emotion, fresh raspberry sorbet another one. You could add a salty vanilla custard or chocolate sauce-more of a Boston cream-like dessert. There are so many possibilities for different textures and temperatures.
Can you pick a favorite recipe?
Well, I love all three cakes inside. And the tart shells, which you can fill with fruit or top with sauces. And our cream puff-which was totally inspired by Schmidt's cream puff. [Laughs.] The hope with this book is it becomes even more about what isn't in it than what is. The hope is I've inspired you just enough to take certain things-to freestyle, really-and that the book will live differently in different people's hands. It's not just about pairing flavors but about creating entirely new desserts. It's about pulling something from here and putting it over here. It isn't Jeni's anymore. It becomes yours.