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Columbus ice-cream entrepreneur scoops up the James Beard Award for her book on making the great American dessert at home.
Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home contains 100 recipes
by WKSU's VIVIAN GOODMAN
This story is part of a special series.


Reporter
Vivian Goodman
 
For her focus this summer on American culture Jeni salutes poet Walt Whitman with a wheat grass, pear and vino verde sorbet. She says its sort of like Leaves of Grass in a sorbet.
Courtesy of Molly Bloom
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An ice-cream entrepreneur from Columbus has won the coveted James Beard award by giving away her secrets. Her new book shares more than 100 recipes for making ice cream at home. In this week's Quick Bite, the author visits our studios.
An ice cream artist tells her story

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Jeni Britton Bauer’s career as an ice cream entrepreneur began when she was a 22 –year-old art student at Ohio State University.  In 2006 she opened her first store outside the North Market in Columbus and today there are 10 stores: 8 in Columbus, one in Nashville, and one in Chagrin Falls.

Jeni thinks her training as an artist has informed her work. She says she wants to tell stories through a wide variety of flavors. One of her first creations was putting cayenne in chocolate ice cream.

“And when I took the first bite it was frozen ice cream and then it was chocolate and then suddenly about 6 or 7 seconds later it burst into flames at the back of my throat and from then on I was hooked. I just knew in that moment the potential of ice cream and all it could become." 
 
The great American desert
Along with essential ingredients the book provides Jeni's technique for making the great American dessert more creamy than icy. She says since milk is 87 percent water you've got to use heat to bind the water with other ingredients: 

“Because milk is 87% water we bind the water with different ingredients through the heating process. So when you heat it we bring it to a boil, the mixture, so we add sugar, milk, cream, bring it to a boil. It's all about tying up those water molecules with something else so they don't become ice crystals later. And then as an insurance policy I actually have you add a little bit of tapioca or cornstarch to it and it's only about a teaspoon and a half but that makes it so that if you're going to add something very watery like strawberries you're not going to have icy ice cream and that's the whole trick. We want the ice cream to have enough elasticity that it can roll up into a ball with a scoop after it's been frozen and licked off slowly from a cone on a hot day. That was our goal and that's how we achieved it."

Rewriting the book on ice-cream
Jeni tested all the recipes in the book with a Cuisinart ice cream machine but she says you can use any home equipment and then use your imagination:

“Ultimately what it’s about is you being able to make whatever you want so the way I chose the recipes that ended up in the book were by technique. You’ll understand if you try a few times how to make a sauce out of almost any fruit that works in ice cream, that doesn’t freeze into ice. You’ll know how to do different kinds of pralines, different kinds of candy, marshmallows, how to make something like chocolate ice cream or cheese ice cream or any herbs that you want but all the techniques are in the book and they’re sort of around my recipes and also in the basics section. And I encourage people to mix and match and think about new flavors and create whatever story they want to tell.”

Story-telling through ice cream this summer at Jeni's focuses on American culture. In honor of her favorite poet Edna St. Vincent Millay who travelled to Kyoto they're doing plum and sake sorbet and to honor humorist James Thurber of Columbus a martini-flavored juniper with lemon curd.

One of Jeni's 10 stores is in Chagrin. Heinen's and Mustard Seed market also carry her ice cream.


Related Links & Resources
Jenis website

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