So a little while ago I entered a Serious Eats contest to win Jeni’s Ice Cream. You had to name a drink that would be great as ice cream and….I won! I think the only thing I have won before in my life was this tiny stuffed starfish. And even then I think it was only half mine because me and my friend had pooled all our quarters together and managed to get the smallest prize there was at the fair. Anyways. This was not like that, I won 4 pints and they were all mine 🙂
I had heard about Jeni’s before, and some of the flavors (namely the Banana Cajeta) sounded incredible. The flavors I won aren’t part of the normal Jeni’s flavors but were the Zelda Collection inspired by Zelda Fitzgerald (read more about it on Jeni’s Blog). I believe these are now sold out but the quality of the ingredients was amazing, I will definitely be buying this again. In SD I hear they are available at the La Jolla Bristol Farms.
The four flavors I got were: Blackberry + Sweet Cream, Cognac + Marmalade, Loveless Biscuits + Peach Jam, and Dark Chocolate Rye. Doesn’t it already sound amazing?
So the first one I tried was the Blackberry + Sweet Cream. When looking at the flavors this was actually the one I was least excited about since blackberries and cream is a fairly normal ice cream flavor. Not like this though. This was actually my favorite. You can taste how sweet and extra milky tasting the cream is, I think grass-fed cream has an extra sweetness and flavor that regular cream does not have. If you’ve had bacio di latte flavored gelato this is similar to how the cream tasted, not like a neutral backdrop for some other ingredient but the star of its own show.
And the blackberry swirl. I’m actually not someone who loves fruit ice creams because a lot of them can be overly sweet (like they’re trying to kill the fruit taste with sugar) and artificial tasting but this tasted so fresh, like the darkest, juiciest blackberries that had barely been sprinkled with sugar. Together this was amazing and I find myself just randomly sneaking into my freezer and digging after the little rivulets of blackberry. It’s that good.
The flavor was inspired by a thank you note Zelda Fitzgerald gave to a friend that told her she would see “That your eyes are bathed with blackberry juice, which you know will make it so you never want to sleep, and that all your shaving suds turn into whipped cream”. Makes your regular emoticon-ridden thank you texts seem quite pedestrian no?
The next flavor I tried was the Cognac + Marmalade. I love cognac. With alcohol I’ve always had the taste of an old British man, I’m pretty sure at 19 my favorite alcohol was gin (and I lived in Canada where the legal age is 19 so this is a perfectly legal anecdote).
The Armagnac cognac here just perfumes the entire ice cream so that it has the slightest oakiness and vanilla notes. It almost tastes as if there’s stil some of the bite of the alcohol but I think that was mostly the bitterness from the Seville Orange marmalade.
Confession: I actually don’t love marmalade. I love oranges and I like orange zest but I find marmalade often to be too bitter to eat alone. I think if you like marmalade you will LOVE this ice cream. The marmalade is orange-y and jammy and flowery and has the softest flecks of bright orange zest. I’m considering sending to my mom because she loves marmalade anything and she would adore this. The cognac accents the marmalade so well and obviously the sugar and cream balance out the bitter notes. This would be amazing with dark chocolate fudge.
This flavor was inspired by Zelda’s love of Sidecars.
After this I tried a flavor I was pretty intrigued by, the Dark Chocolate Rye. I love rye whiskey and I love dark chocolate and naturally two good things make a better thing. Has anyone seen that episode of Friend’s where Rachel makes a trifle and then accidentally adds peas and meat to it or something? And then everyone hates it except for Joey who goes “What’s not to like? Chocolate? Good. Cream? GOOD. Meat? GOOOOD!”. Haha. That’s my logic anyways.
Although this was lovely I think it was not one of my favorites. Don’t get me wrong this is some of the best chocolate ice cream I’ve ever had but I was hoping there would be dark chocolate chunks or something. Then again I’m quite partial to ice cream with stuff in it, I’m the kid that buys Ben & Jerry’s then burrows through the ice cream eating all the cookie dough/brownie/whatever through the ice cream and leaves the de-gutted remains in the freezer for someone else.
This is their chocolate ice cream with Middle West Spirit’s OYO White Rye Whiskey and carraway. The rye flavor is quite subtle and you notice it as a slight lingering taste after the creamy bitter dark chocolate fades. If chocolate ice cream is your favorite this is leaps and bounds better than the crappy “chocolate-essence” tasting stuff you can get at grocery stores. Its dense and rich and almost chewy. Although this is not the flavor I will randomly sneak bites of all day this would make an amazing chocolate sundae. With maybe some dark chocolate fudge, smoked almonds and sea salt? I will let you know how that goes.
This flavor was inspired by when in 1921 the Fitzgeralds were living in their hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota where “. . . rye flowed as though it were an elixir” at the “weekly hops at the club.” And carraway because…I don’t think I have to explain that one right?
Ok. So lastly I tried the flavor I was most excited for. The Loveless Biscuits + Peach Jam. In general I think ice creams are great with cake or cookies so to have a carb directly incorporated into the ice cream is nothing sort of efficient.
When I first opened this I was sad to see that I didn’t initially see large chunks of biscuits. However as soon as I had my first bite I knew large chunks of biscuits were not necessary (although they were there too, just a little further down). The ice cream itself just tasted of biscuits. Not that it was grainy at all, just like cream infused with slightly sweet, buttery biscuits. If you’ve ever had Momofuku’s cereal milk ice cream this is reminiscent of that.
This is the other ice cream I keep sneaking bites of. The peach jam is also amazing, jammy ripe peaches that bring sweetness to the bready biscuits. This ice cream does not need any sauce or topping to be eaten. Even a crumble on top would be overkill. At most if you twisted my arm I would put some barely sweetened whipped cream over top of it.
This was inspired by Zelda Fitzgerald’s favorite food: southern biscuits and peach jam. Jeni was also inspired by the Loveless Cafe in Nashville.
Overall this stuff was unreal. The flavors are just incredibly creative, interesting but still so tasty and made with just the best quality ingredients. Jeni’s is based in Columbus, Ohio so even though I sadly cannot go to their store I will definitely try to find some of her other flavors here!
You can apparently make your own flavors too.
And here are her other signature flavors.
Oh and btw the cocktail I said would work well as an ice cream was a Scottish Breakfast: scotch, maple syrup, orange zest, cinnamon and cream.