"Ice cream is the perfect accessory," says Jeni Britton Bauer.
The founder of small-batch gonna-be-mega-brand Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams should know. Her book on summer's coolest look, Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream Desserts ($24), is now available.
"You can change the conversation of a dessert based on the ice cream," she says. "Apple crisp becomes totally different when you put cardamom ice cream versus vanilla ice cream on it."
"Both are awesome," she adds.
Britton Bauer runs her company—which now has "scoop shops" in seven cities, the latest of which debuted last month in Charleston, SC—as one might a fashion brand, rolling out a new collection of flavors every couple of months. She's calling this summer's collection the "Flavors of the Midwest." The line (pineapple upside down cake, cantaloupe and sun tea) is a nod to her home base of Columbus, OH.
The desserts in her new book are all about playing with different elements, building an outfit. "Freestyle mixing and matching is the most fun," she says.
Take the Salty Grahama (see the recipe), which she showed us how to make: The free-form sundae pairs salty vanilla frozen custard with homemade caramel sauce, graham "gravel" (a streusel made with graham crackers), sliced banana and loads of whipped cream. The base elements can be swapped out with other flavors to create something completely different.
The whiskey in the caramel sauce is optional. But, Britton Bauer warns, never, ever skimp on the whipped cream.
"I always order my sundaes at the shops with too much whipped cream," says Britton Bauer. "It's a texture and temperature thing; I don't know why, but ice cream just needs whipped cream."
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