Ice Cream's Secret Ingredient: Cheese

Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream has a secret ingredient

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Considering the countless licked-clean pints of Jeni's ice cream we've stared down, we thought we were intimately familiar with the Ohio-based ice cream maker's spectrum of flavors.

But when we received her new cookbook ($13; click here to buy), we saw that there was an unexpected ingredient acting as the foundation for each delicious recipe: cheese. Specifically, cream cheese. Indeed, the secret to the trademark silkiness of Jeni Britton Bauer's ice cream is a spoonful of the schmear in lieu of eggs. Present in favorites such as roasted strawberry with buttermilk (click here to see the recipe), cheese might be the savior for our frozen desserts.

Apparently, we're not the only ones to join the faith. In New York, Il Laboratorio del Gelato features several cheese-focused flavors, including a sharp cheddar flavor, which is at once sweet and salty. The ice cream pioneers at San Francisco's Humphry Slocombe prepare an offering called "government cheese," which they recommend eating atop an apple tart.

At Empire Ice Cream in Seattle, scoops toe the line between dinner and dessert with offerings such as the "Heart Attack," which combines blue cheese, bacon and extra rich cream. And in Illinois, Village Creamery takes a page from a Filipino custom of adding pieces of Kraft singles to vanilla ice cream.

The cone now defers to the curd.