Salty Graham Gravel tops one of Britton Bauer's sundaes from Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream Desserts.
Wildberry lavender. Goat cheese with red cherries. Absinthe and meringue. Jeni Britton Bauer takes ice cream and twists it into the spectacular.
Outside of Richmond, the ice cream scene has exploded. Exotic flavors and toppings are easy to find in larger cities — even the norm — as one store tries to one-up the other. Britton Bauer was one of the earliest to start experimenting with ice cream, starting first in Columbus, Ohio. She now has lots of shops all over Ohio and in Atlanta, Chicago, Nashville and Charleston.
You can find a few of the Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream varieties for sale by the pint at Ellwood Thompson Local Market, The Fresh Market and Whole Foods, but one way Richmonders can get their hands on some of the flavors unavailable at the grocery store is to make your own from Britton Bauer’s new book, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Desserts. (Her first book, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home won the 2012 James Beard Award for Best Baking and Dessert Book.) Don’t flavors like cumin and honey butterscotch, and dark chocolate and rye whiskey sound intriguing?
Or even better (and easier, even if you have an ice cream maker), you can buy Britton Bauer’s ice cream at the store and create some of the concoctions that fill up much of the rest of her book — baked goods, sundaes, sauces and different kinds of jam. Britton Bauer is known for her crunchy gravel toppings — crazy stuff like pumpernickel gravel and more straightforward kinds like salty graham gravel. Actually, that’s not particularly run-of-the-mill, is it? Throw it on some of her brown butter almond brittle ice cream or Savannah buttermint, and suddenly, you’re not eating ice cream, you’re eating deconstructed pie.
Bauer generously shared her salty graham gravel recipe with Richmag Food, and you’ll find it’s a snap — waiting around for it to cool is the only difficult part. Get ready to elevate ice cream (even plain vanilla) to a whole other level.
Salty Graham Gravel
By Jeni Britton Bauer
1 cup finely ground graham crackers (from about 13 crackers)
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter.
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.
Combine the graham cracker crumbs, flour, cornstarch, sugar and salt in a small bowl. Add the butter and stir until large lumps have formed and all of the dry ingredients are moistened (the mixture should resemble lumpy wet sand). Add the salt, mixing just enough to distribute it evenly. Pour the crumbs onto a baking sheet and spread evenly.
Bake the crumbs for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and toss the crumbs with two bench scrapers or metal spatulas, then chop into 1/8-to-1/4 inch pieces.
Bake for 10 more minutes or until gravel is a rich brown. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
Recipe courtesy Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Desserts by Jeni Britton Bauer ©Artisan Books