jeni’s splendid vs. happy splendid

in the ongoing homemade ice cream saga, i last left you with the tale of sweet corn ice cream and a teaser about me being able to taste the “real” jeni’s ice cream.  this means i haven’t even told you yet about the roasted rhubarb frozen yogurt (which is at least in my top three flavors so far, if not higher.  i’ll have to post pictures and tell you more some other time.) but i’m sure you’ve all been waiting with bated breath to find out if the jeni’s ice cream was worth the big bucks of importing from faraway Ohio.  Before we get to that, here’s a few shots to prove that i have the real thing:

(note the classic hand-written label.  and yes, after much debate, i decided we had to try the best-selling “salty caramel” flavor.)

and for those of you who might be curious, here’s her ingredients label.  the only difference (other that specific brands of ingredients) between this list and her cookbook recipes is the tapioca starch (instead of corn starch) and the intriguing lack of cream cheese.

i made my own homemade batch of salty caramel last night and you can see a side-by-side comparison of a spoonful at the top of this post.  hers is the lighter color, mine is the darker.  here’s another shot where you can really see the texture difference between these two:

they were out of the freezer for the same amount of time, but hers is much meltier than mine (which could be a good thing or bad thing, depending on how you like your ice cream).  i think you can also see from this picture how much more air is whipped into hers.  this was one of the first things we noticed as we sampled her ice cream.  it feels much less creamy in the mouth than the stuff i’ve been making.  i’m not certain whether that is a result of the cream cheese (really.  go read the link about the cream cheese.) or if it’s because my ice cream freezer is hand crank and not electric, so there’s a lot less “whipping” of the mix as it freezes.

what you can’t see in the photo (and what might actually surprise you, given the respective colors of these spoonfuls) is that hers really tastes…. burnt.  i mean, i’m all for a dark, slightly bitter caramel, but… let’s just say that when mr. happy stuff tasted mine last night for the first time, he breathed a sigh of relief and said, “yours is way better.  yours tastes like caramel.  hers just tastes like burnt sugar.”

am i sad i spent big bucks to buy a carton of the “real thing” and be disappointed in the product?  heck no.  now, i won’t be lusting after it, dreaming about how much better it must taste than my own.  it may be a result of the shipping (there’s gotta be at least a little degradation of quality when you send ice cream through the mail, right?), it may be that we’re just big fans of the texture of cream cheese, it may be that wisconsin cows rock the socks off of ohio’s cows, but either way, i am thrilled that i have access to all these recipes to try on my own and i really, really should go buy my own copy instead of hogging the library’s!

one more interesting note:

in support of my “hand-crank freezer whips in less air” theory, i don’t think my recipes have ever made the amount the cookbook says they should.  my batches almost always fit neatly into one of these plastic tubs that lunchmeat is sold in (22 oz, vs. the book’s predicted 32 oz.)

i also like these containers because they are a bit flexible, so even if the ice cream expands slightly as it freezes more firmly, it doesn’t break the container.  plus, it’s an easy opening size to scoop from.

i know several of you have purchased the book after reading my blog posts–have you discovered a favorite recipe you’d like to rave about?

p.s. the book’s salty caramel recipe forgets to mention when you should add the vanilla.  i found the answer here.


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