Jeni Britton Bauer knows ice cream. Early experimentation with essential oils in cooking inspired her to quit her art history studies at Ohio State University to pursue the frozen treat full time. Jeni’s first foray into the dairy world, Scream Ice Creams, opened in 1996. Days were spent in the shop and nights involved churning ice cream. While Scream eventually closed, Jeni used her experience to develop the business plan for Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams—and the rest is history.
Available in one of 37 scoop shops or 3,000-plus grocery stores across the country, Jeni’s pints have changed the ice cream game. Her commitment to responsibly sourced ingredients coupled with innovative flavors makes each scoop a treat. Several feature cheese, including the beloved Goat Cheese with Red Cherries and Gorgonzola Dolce with Candied Walnuts. We caught up with Jeni to talk quality ingredients, ice cream memories, and cheesy inspiration.
On the best goat cheese
MacKenzie Creamery, a small, family-run creamery in northeast Ohio, makes the best goat cheese we’ve ever tasted. It has a strong, fresh flavor and a clean finish.
On favorite ice cream memories
Eating ice cream right before bed with my grandmother. She always made fresh strawberry freezer jam. We would serve it over vanilla ice cream.
On flavor development
Flavors that seem simple are not as easy as you may think. Sometimes you’ll imagine this whole flavor story in your mind that you think will be beautiful in ice cream form and it’s just not. And sometimes, the opposite happens. The look of an ice cream should immediately make you imagine it’s flavor, so it being visually beautiful is important.
On combining cheese and ice cream
The key is finding cheeses that mix well with the flavor story we are trying to tell and offer something unique to the texture and body of the ice cream. Goat cheese works because of what is already is—its [creamy] texture and tangy flavor lend itself well to ice cream.
On adding essential oils to ice cream
Perfumers use fats or alcohols to carry scent, so I started adding essential oils to my everyday cooking. Then I moved to adding these oils to ice cream, and I loved the way it enhanced the tasting experience by attaching scents to the fats.