When I moved into my apartment in Los Angeles in September 2012 one of the first things I did was set up an American Amazon account and order myself The Joy The Baker Cookbook by way of a housewarming gift. I think it was actually the first cookbook I ever purchased for myself, perfect for my first grown up apartment. It has become one of my favourite baking books, crammed with recipes I turn to whenever I fancy something sweet like her Giant Cinnamon Rolls with Buttermilk Glaze (the first enriched dough I ever made, and by hand no less!), Lemon-Thyme Sugar Cookies or my absolute favourite Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Cookies.
Fast forward to November. The week before I'd reviewed Joy's first book on my blog, and I was at Williams Sonoma in Beverly Hills for Deb from Smitten Kitchen's first cookbook signing. I spotted Joy across the room and decided to say hello, and she remembered me from my review. We got chatting about all things cake, but as is usually the problem with busy people we did not manage to get together until I was just about to leave Los Angeles to move back to London at the beginning of the Summer. When I was at Joy's old place in Venice I was shocked at how tiny her kitchen was (no, seriously), and her space on her desk where she managed to shoot all her recipes, create such wonderful food and beautiful photographs. Honestly, the utter tornado I was in the kitchen at the time as I'd only ever been treated to big ones honestly could not see how anyone could do it in such cramped quarters, and to such a high quality. (Well actually, back in London I moved into a kitchen just as small as Joy's, but shared. There are reasons you barely saw any photos of food coming out of it!)
When I asked her where all the boxes of plates and kitchen props came from that were littering her living space when I visited came from, she explained they were on hire as she was finishing up shooting her second book, right in that little space, and I've been excited about it ever since. However, because of the evils of the internet it took me a good few weeks to get my hands on it after the British publication date. I devoured it the afternoon I got it, and even before I'd finished reading I'd started baking at batch of Joy's Classic Lemon Bars for family dessert that evening.
The book is fresh, bright and the worst thing possible to give anyone on a diet. The brunch chapter has me already super excited for the book Joy's currently writing about my favourite meal of the weekend, and I now feel that every sweets book in future needs a chapter called 'Ice Cream Social'. Some of the recipes I'm already super pumped to make are: Blueberry Pancake Muffins with Maple Glaze, Roasted Strawberry & Balsamic Grits, Champagne-Sorbet Floats, Lavender-Lime-Cucumber-Spritzers, Melt-y Chocolate-Truffle Cookies, Graham Cracker Pie Crust (pastry and I are not friends), Lemon-Buttermilk Pie, Church Party Peach Cobbler with Orange & Cinnamon Dumplings, Double The Chocolate Cake (sour cream chocolate frosting is something I need to investigate, stat), Dark Chocolate Brownie Cupcakes, Rosewater Ice Cream with Pistachios & White Chocolate, Avocado Ice Cream with Toasted Coconut, Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream and Strawberry-Balsamic Pops. Highlights also include recipes for making your own pancake syrup, and some layer cake frosting tips that I'm sure will turn me into a pro in no time.
One of the first recipes that really jumped out at me when I'd finished reading the book through the first time was not one of the all singing and dancing jazzed up ones, but something that looked pretty simple: Brown Sugar-Cream Cheese Ice Cream. The flavour sounded clean but unusual (I'd never seen cream cheese used in ice cream before), and the brown sugar made it sound rather versatile to be a great dessert side addition, as Joy's blurb for the recipe suggested. The result is delicious, sweet (but not too much so), and very more-ish. I've changed the recipe a little for you here, not to deviate at all from Joy's perfect balance of flavours, but to make the recipe UK friendly; for example she makes her ice cream base with half-and-half, a 50/50 double cream and whole milk blend you can buy in practically all American grocery stores, but is completely alien to us here in England, and from my knowledge of the cream section in my local French supermarket, in Europe too. Also, I think maybe because of the slightly different textures and consistencies of our dairy base doing as the recipe calls, and freezing your ice cream as per your ice cream makers instructions will leave you with a gloopy mess. The ice cream needs to be churning in your machine for at least 1 hour and 15 minutes to create a good consistency of ice cream. (I have this Cuisnart ice cream maker, by the way).
Usually I like to leave my ice cream plain, but I felt this would be a complete let down in this instance as Joy has dedicated a whole three pages in the Ice Cream Social chapter to some rather delicious sounding ice cream toppings such as how to make candied bacon bits, white chocolate sprinkle clusters and salted caramel sauce. I would have shuddered at the flavour combination before California completely swallowed up my tastebuds, but when I tasted the ice cream I just knew I had to make some of Joy's Crumbled Chocolate Covered Potato Chips to sprinkle a bit of salty and sweet on top. They're pretty easy to make: just dip crinkly ready salted crisps (I used Tyrell's) into melted chocolate and leave to harden in the freezer on a tray lined with greaseproof paper. Remove from the freezer, and roughly crumble the crisps into pieces.
- 225g (8 oz) Full Fat Cream Cheese, at room temperature
- 310ml Full Fat Milk & 310ml Double Cream (2 1/2 cups Half and Half)
- 220g (1 cup) Light Soft Brown Sugar
- 1/4 tsp Salt
Blend the milk, cream (or half and half) and room temperature cream cheese together in a food processor until smooth and there are no lumps of cream cheese. Add the sugar and the salt, and blend until combined. Joy states you can also add an optional tablespoon full of Bourbon here, if you'd like. Go for it if you're after the taste, but otherwise this sets nice so it can be scooped right out the tub after only a minute or two, so if you're used to adding alcohol to your ice cream to get a soft scoop, you don't need to here.
Freeze the ice cream in your ice cream maker as per the manufacturers instructions, but take my note that this might take up to twice the time if you're making this with British ingredients. Freeze instantly in freezer proof tubs, and enjoy a few hours later scooped into pretty bowls or glasses, and sprinkled with chocolate coated potato chip pieces!
Seriously guys, if you even have the tiniest inkling of a sweet tooth, go out and buy Joy's new book. Not only has her books and blog been such an inspiration to me as a blogger and food writer, but in person Joy has been so lovely and supportive to me as a food blogger in so many little, but really important ways that you ought to go out and grab a copy if only to fulfil some sort of internet/ food blogger community karma. You can order it here in the UK off of Amazon, and in the USA from Amazon or Barnes & Noble (god I miss shopping there!)