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First Look: Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream Desserts Cookbook

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Ice cream books come out every Summer, and while they are fun to look at, unless you have an ice cream maker, they're generally not worth a second glance. But — and I should probably be less surprised by this — the new Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream Desserts is a very engaging read. Jeni Britton Bauer, owner of the cultishly adored Ohio-based ice cream shop, also happens to be able to write.

Take for, example, the introduction:

Ice Cream desserts are like my favorite people — they look the best when they are starting to fall apart. Not sloppy, but confidently disheveled, like the late great Paul Newman stepping out of his race car. Say what? How many cookbook authors are comparing desserts to Paul Newman? Or how about when, after explaining how a love for blending perfumes led her to her ice cream career, she applies that theory to hot fruit empanadas topped with ice cream: "If you carefully choose the ice cream and the fruit, you can determine the emotion of the dessert at your table." It quickly becomes clear that Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream Desserts isn't just a simple ice cream book: there are big ideas at play here.

The book itself is actually kind of a brilliant concept: while recipes for all of the ice cream flavors are included, it's not necessary to make them yourself to complete the recipes. What's stopping you from buying Jeni's (or whatever your ice cream of choice may be) direct from the source and sandwiching it between two of the book's cookies? Or plopping it on top of the fresh fruit crisps?

The baking component of Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream Desserts makes it infinitely more versatile than a straightforward ice cream book would be (as, indeed, her first cookbook was). You can delve into it as deeply or as shallowly as you'd like. For ice cream nerds, the flavors here are sophisticated: Absinthe meringue. Farmstead cheese and guava jam. Cumin and honey butterscotch. Juniper and lemon curd. Wheatgrass, pear, and vinho verde sorbet (apparently inspired by Walt Whitman?).

Then it's on to the ice cream part of desserts. Cakes, which can be served warm with a scoop on top, or crumbled into an ice cream base. There are recipes for desserts that incorporate ice cream: French ice cream tarts, cookies to make ice cream sandwiches, chocolate-dipped ice cream bars, ice cream layer cakes (which I plan to spend my Summer perfecting). There's also a large section of ideas for sundaes, which serve equally well as recipes as they do inspiration for your own concoctions.

The photography, shot by Kelsey McClellan, brings to mind the over-saturated photos of old Betty Crocker books or mid-century home-ec textbooks (in a good way). All together, it's a fun — and possibly very useful — little ice cream book. Happy Aummer, everyone. Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream Desserts is out now from Artisan (order on Amazon); check it out:

· Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream Desserts [Amazon]