Every good birthday cake deserves a birthday ice cream.
Similar to this crazy dessert from our anniversary, you need a special ice cream that can cut through all that rich, sugary chocolate. Preferably something that hints to the saltier side of things. Something that will compliment rather than compete. Vanilla-anything is always a safe choice with chocolate cake, right? Boozy vanilla could work, but I wanted something more.
And then I realized I’ve already had the perfect choice, back in July at Jeni’s book signing. Her Salty Vanilla Frozen Custard (from her new cookbook) would be AMAZING with a chocolate-peanut butter cake.
I swooned about it then and I’ve basically been swooning ever since. This custard has it all. A velvety, thick texture (thanks to SIX eggs yolks in the base), the most incredibly rich butter flavor (thanks to SIX yolks eggs in the base) and just the right amount of salt to wake up your tongue (thanks to SIX….oh wait.) Jeni says it’s inspired by the classic cream puff filling. #genius
It’s so buttery tasting, in fact, that I think it tastes oddly similar to the Popcorn Gelato I made this summer. And that one only uses FOUR eggs! This might be a worthy replacement, should I ever make Popcorn + Peanuts again and not want to steep a boatload of popcorn in cream. Just an idea.
I know it’s convenient to buy ice cream from the grocery store, but I think homemade tastes infinitely better. There’s something about that ownership from tempering the eggs and letting the base thicken to watching it churn in your machine that heightens the anticipation and experience.
Jeni has a signature sundae in her cookbook that uses this custard as the base and tops with Whiskey Caramel Sauce and Salty Graham Gravel. She calls it….wait for it….The Salty Grahama.
I die. Can I please be Jeni?
I’m sure this recipe will be making a comeback in my kitchen someday soon. If Tyler Florence were standing here he’d yell, “IT’S THE ULTIMATE VANILLA!” He’s right,…he’s annoying, but he’s right.
If you find yourself looking to bump up your basics when it comes to ice cream, look no further.
Jeni’s Salty Vanilla Custard
Makes about 1 quart
2 3/4 c. whole milk
6 large egg yolks
1 Tbs. plus 2 tsp. cornstarch
1 oz. (2 Tbs.) cream cheese, softened
3/4 tsp. fine sea salt
3 tsp. vanilla
1 c. heavy cream
3/4 c. sugar
2 Tbs. light corn syrup
Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk , the egg yolks, and cornstarch in a small bowl and set aside.
Whisk the cream cheese, salt and vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
Combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually add about 2 cups of the hot milk mixture to the egg yolk mixture, one ladleful at a time, stirring well after each addition. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula, just until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and strain through a sieve.
Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese mixture until smooth. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziplock freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice if needed, until cold, about 30 minutes.
Remove the frozen canister from the freezer, assemble the ice cream machine, and turn it on. Pour the custard base into the canister and spin until thick and creamy.
Pack the custard into a storage container. Press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface and seal with an airtight lid.
Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.