Jeni's Freestylin' recipe ideas

Mixing and matching recipes from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Desserts—it’s what Jeni likes to call “cooking between the pages” or freestylin’. The recipes in the cookbook are designed so you can think, visualize, and strategize ways to create your own recipes and desserts. This is how Jeni cooks at home. Mastering one base recipe (like empanada dough or lady cake), and then building on that to create a new dish. All you have to do is start with any recipe from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Desserts. Then mix and match it with other recipes—shape-shifting them into something else entirely. That’s freestylin’.

Scroll 👇 for some of Jeni’s favorite riffs.

Ice Cream French Toast

Freestylin’ French Toast made with melted ice cream

½ cup melted ice cream (like Honey Vanilla Bean or Pistachio & Honey), ⅛ cup water, 2 eggs, 6 slices of bread (like challah or brioche), Butter for pan.

Beat together melted ice cream, water, and eggs with a whisk. Dunk bread in the batter and give it a quick flip (a short soak is fine for thick slices or denser bread). Butter a hot pan and cook bread until golden on each side. Serve with fresh whipped cream and blueberries.

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Jeni's Sugar Plum Fairy Cake recipe

Sugar Plum Fairy Cake

Freestylin’ the Lady Cake, Marshmallow Filling, and Pink Plum Puckery Sauce recipes from Jeni’s dessert book.

Make 2 Lady Cakes (page 100), 2 batches of Marshmallow Filling (page 191), and 1 batch of Pink Plum Puckery Sauce (page 188), adding cornstarch or gelatin to thicken the sauce slightly. Slice the cooled cakes in half diametrically. Spread roughly a thin layer of marshmallow filling and a heavy hand of plum jam between each layer. Use the remaining filling to frost the cake, then pack the sides with as much coconut as will stick.

Image of a Freestylin' Peach and Blackberry Sheet Pie paired with Salty Caramel

Peach & Blackberry Sheet Pie

Freestylin’ the Sheet Pie with the Pear & Blackberry Crisp recipes.

Make the dough from the Sheet Pie recipe (page 108) and the fruit filling from the Pear & Blackberry Crisp (page 120). Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Roll out the dough and transfer to a quarter sheet pan, centering it in the pan and pressing the dough up against the edges. Pour the filling into the pan and spread into a thin layer. Roll out a second piece of dough (roughly 12-by-16-inches) and cut into even strips, roughly ¾-inch wide. Lay half the strips horizontally, half vertically and weave into a lattice. Bake for 45 minutes, or until evenly browned and the edges have turned extra-golden.

Serve with Salty Caramel ice cream.

Image of a Freestylin' Simple Apple Tart paired with Sweet Cream

Simple Apple Tart

Freestylin’ this Simple Apple Tart with the recipe for the Sugar Dough Tart Shells.

Prepare 1 batch of Sugar Dough (page 112) as directed. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Cut out a 10-inch parchment circle and line the bottom of a 10-inch tart pan. Roll out the dough about ⅛ inch thick. Cut into an 11-inch round, and ease into the tart pan. Place on a cookie sheet, and par-bake until golden, about 20 minutes.

While shells are baking, core and thinly slice about a dozen red apples and toss with enough sugar and cinnamon to coat. Sauté apples in a large skillet until they begin to soften. Let cool, then arrange on par-baked crust, overlapping apple slices diagonally until the pastry is covered. Bake for 20 minutes, or until apples are tender and the crust is deep golden and cooked through.

Serve with a scoop of Sweet Cream ice cream.

Image of a Freestylin' Pomegranate Lemon Bar paired with Darkest Chocolate

Pomegranate Lemon Bar

Freestylin’ Jeni’s nut crust with the Lemon Curd recipe.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. In a food processor, combine 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 cup walnut pieces, ½ cup powdered sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt, and pulse until blended and nuts are coarsely ground. Add1 stick unsalted butter (softened and cubed) and pulse until pea-sized pieces form. Press the crust into a 9×13 baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place in the freezer for 30 to 60 minutes. Bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes.

Follow the lemon curd recipe on page 183. (Omit tapioca starch and lemon zest, and add 12 ounces pomegranate seeds, 4 egg yolks, and ¼ teaspoon salt to the ingredient list.) Bring pomegranate seeds to a simmer with ½ cup water, and cook until softened. Strain through a sieve and reserve the syrup. Allow to cool. Add eggs, 1 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, and salt. Mix well and heat over low heat, stirring until the mixture thickens to a loose curd. Remove from heat and add butter. Strain the mixture again. Pour into the crust and bake for 15 minutes until the curd has set (a little jiggle in the center).

Pair with Darkest Chocolate.

Image of a Freestylin' Pecan Pie Tart with Boozy Eggnog

Mini Pecan Pie Tarts

Freestylin’ the Sugar Dough with the Corn Syrup Custard recipes.

Make the Sugar Dough recipe (page 112), and form and par-bake into mini tart shells (following the baking instructions on page 111). Prepare the Corn Syrup Custard (page 183). Evenly divide the mixture among par-baked tart shells and bake for 25 minutes at 300ºF, until the custard is set, jiggling slightly in the center. Do not overbake. Let cool completely on a rack, then refrigerate.

Pair with Boozy Eggnog.

Image of a pavlova paired with buttermilk frozen yogurts.

Pavlova with Blackberry Sauce

Freestylin’ Jeni’s meringe shells with our Buttermilk Frozen Yogurt

Follow the meringue shells recipe from page 198. Divide the meringue into two mounds on the baking sheet(s), leaving 2 inches between them. Using the back of a spoon, create a little hollow in the center of each one. Bake the meringues until they are crisp all the way through and lift easily off the parchment about 2 hours. Let cool completely on a rack.

Using a fork, lightly macerate 2 pints of blackberries with 1 cup sugar (the nicer your berries are, the less sugar they’ll need). Let macerated berries rest for roughly an hour to draw out more juice. Top meringues with macerated berries. And, instead of whipped cream, add a few scoops of your favorite buttermilk frozen yogurt. Garnish with mint sprigs.

Image of a Lemon & Blueberries BFY terrine

Lemon & Blueberries BFY terrine

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a metal loaf pan with parchment paper. Combine 1/2 box graham crackers, 1 stick butter (melted), and 1/4 cup brown sugar in a bowl. Spread graham cracker mixture evenly over the bottom of the loaf pan (the crust should be about an inch thick). Bake until golden brown, but still soft, roughly 5 minutes. Cool completely.

Once the crust is cooled, add 2 pints of Lemon & Blueberries BFY, spreading evenly in the pan. Freeze at least 4 hours or overnight. Remove the terrine from the freezer and unmold by running a knife between the short ends of the pan and the ice cream to loosen it. (If needed, you can dunk the bottom of the pan in hot water for a few seconds.) Wrap tightly in parchment and then in plastic wrap to store.

To serve, remove the plastic and parchment. Top with fresh blueberries, blueberry sauce, and fresh whipped cream.

Image of a Freestylin' Coconut Cream Cake

Coconut Cream Cake

Freestylin’ the Coconut Cream Cake with the Lady Cake and Marshmallow Filling recipes—and shredded sweetened coconut.

Make 2 Lady Cakes (page 100) and 2 batches of Marshmallow Filling (page 191) made with a bit of coconut extract. Slice the cooled cakes in half diametrically. Spread roughly equal amounts of filling and a dusting of sweetened coconut between each layer. Slightly more filling should be reserved for the top of the cake than between the layers, then pack as much coconut on the top as will stick, and then some more.

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Image of a Frestylin' Strawberry Almond Cake

Strawberry Almond Cake

Freestylin’ a Strawberry Almond Cake, using the Lady Cake and Macerated Strawberries, and Whipped Cream recipes, fresh whole strawberries, and sliced toasted almonds.

Prepare 1 batch of Macerated Strawberries (page 184) as directed. Bake 2 Lady Cakes (page 100) and let cool. Pulse the macerated berries until it becomes a diced sauce. Make 2 batches of Whipped Cream (page 191). Slice the cakes in half diametrically. Spread ¼ of the strawberries and a heaping soup-spoonful of Whipped Cream between each layer of cake and to the top layer. Drop the rest of the Whipped Cream onto the top and spread around the sides. Top with fresh whole strawberries. Gently press some sliced toasted almonds around the sides of the cake. Refrigerate for ½ hour to set.

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Image of a Freestylin' Baby Legs dessert

Baby Legs

Freestylin’ Baby Legs with the Lady Cake, A Wiseman’s Cake, and Marshmallow Filling recipes using cast-iron corn molds.

Make the Lady Cake batter (page 100) and/or A Wiseman’s Chocolate Cake batter (page 98).Butter cast-iron corn molds and pour the batter into the molds, about ⅔ full. Bake for 45 minutes at 325ºF. While baking, make a batch of Marshmallow Filling (page 191). Allow the cakes to cool, pipe the Marshmallow Filling on the flat side of each and top with another cake. Makes about 12 Baby Legs.

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Image of a Freestylin' Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Freestylin’ a Pineapple Upside Down Cake using the Lady Cake and a cast iron skillet.

Make the Lady Cake batter (page 100). In a 10-inch cast-iron skillet melt about ⅓ cup of butter & 1 cup of light brown sugar until bubbling (3 to 4 minutes). Set 7 pineapple rings in the pan and add 1 Amarena cherry to the middle of each ring. Pour the Lady Cake batter over the pineapples, bake at 325ºF for 35 to 40 minutes, and let cool slightly. Flip out of the pan.

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Image of a Freestylin' Boston Cream Pie

Boston Cream Pie

Freestylin’ a Boston Cream Pie with the Lady Cake, Chocolate Glaze, and Salty Vanilla Frozen Custard recipes.

Make a Lady Cake (page 100). Make a batch of Salty Vanilla Frozen Custard (page 60). Let the cake cool and slice in half diametrically. Layer half into a silicone mold, add all of the frozen custard, and top it with the other half of the cake. Freeze for 4 hours. Make a batch of Chocolate Glaze (page 189). Loosen the glaze up with a splash of heavy cream if needed. Unmold the cake and pour the glaze over the top—let it fall over the sides in spots. Serve or freeze for later.

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Image of a Freestylin' German Chocolate Cake

German Chocolate Cake

Freestylin’ a German Chocolate Cake with recipes for A Wiseman’s Chocolate Cake and Salty Caramel Sauce, plus toasted pecans and shredded sweetened coconut.

Bake 2 A Wiseman’s Chocolate Cakes (page 98). Make 2 batches of Salty Caramel Sauce (page 187) and let cool. In a food processor, pulse ⅓ cup of toasted pecans and ⅓ cup of shredded sweetened coconut and all of the Salty Caramel Sauce until chunky. Add another ⅓ cup of nuts and pulse gently. Let the cakes cool and slice both in half diametrically. Between each layer, add the Salty Caramel Sauce-and-nut mixture, saving a bit for the top. Decorate the top with more pecans.

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Image of a Freestylin' Lemon Meringue Cake

Lemon Meringue Cake

Freestylin’ a Lemon Meringue Cake with the Lady Cake, Meringue Cake, Lemon Curd recipes and fresh raspberries.

Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Evenly divide 1 batch of Lady Cake (page 100) batter in two 9-inch round cake pans and top with 1 batch of Meringue Cake batter (page 102). While the cakes bake, make a batch of Lemon Curd (page 183). Let the cakes cool, then assemble: Lady-and-Meringue Cake, Lemon Curd, Lady-and-Meringue Cake. Top with fresh raspberries. (You could use the Macaroon Cake (page 96) instead of the Lady Cake here, and bake at 350ºF.)

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Image of a Freestylin' Chocolate and Smoked Almond Tarts

Chocolate & Smoked Almond Tarts

Freestylin’ Chocolate & Smoked Almond Tarts with recipes for the Sugar Dough Tart Shells and Chocolate Glaze—and the ice cream of your choice.

Make and bake Sugar Dough Tart Shells (pages 112). Make a batch of Chocolate Glaze (page 189), or warm as directed a jar of our Extra-Bitter Hot Fudge Sauce. Remove the shells from the oven and fill each one with glaze or sauce to the brim. (You can add a bit of heavy cream to make the glaze flow a little more freely.) Top each tart with smoked almonds and let cool completely in the refrigerator. Serve with a scoop of ice cream of your choice.

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Image of Cast Iron Pancakes with Ham and Cheese Freestylin'

Cast-Iron Pancakes with Ham & Cheese

Freestylin’ Cast-Iron Pancakes with Ham & Cheese using the Cast-Iron Pancake and Hot Honey recipes—and ham and cheese.

My regular Cast-Iron Pancake recipe (page 134) calls for a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, but for this freestyle I like to use 6-inch skillets so each pancake serves 1. Heat butter in the skillets, make the batter and bake as directed. Make a batch of Hot Honey (page 188). Remove the skillets from the oven, top each pancake with a slice or two of ham and a slice of Muenster cheese, and return them to the oven until the edges turn a lovely dark brown (a few more minutes). Remove from the oven, slide out of the skillets, pour loads of Hot Honey on top, and serve immediately.

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Image of a Freestylin' Rosemary Bar Nuts Tart with Salty Caramel

Salty Caramel & Rosemary Bar Nuts Tarts

Freestylin’ Salty Caramel & Rosemary Bar Nuts Tarts with the recipes for the Sugar Dough Tart Shells, Salty Caramel Sauce, and Rosemary Bar Nuts—and the ice cream of your choice.

Make and bake Sugar Dough Tart Shells (pages 112). Make a batch of Salty Caramel Sauce, or warm as directed a jar of our already-made Salty Caramel Sauce. Remove the shells from the oven and fill each one with sauce to the brim. Top each tart with Rosemary Bar Nuts (page 192) and let cool completely in the refrigerator. Serve with a scoop of ice cream of your choice.

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Image of a Plum Tart Freestylin'

Plum Tarts

Freestylin’ the Plum Tarts with the Sugar Dough and Macaroon Cake recipes and sliced plums.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Make 1 batch of Sugar Dough (page 112) and put half of it in a tart pan. Make the Macaroon Cake batter (page 96) and pour half on top of the dough. Add 6 sliced plums in layers and bake. Repeat to make the second tart.

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Image of a Pork Shoulder Empanada Freestylin' recipe

Pork Shoulder Empanadas

Freestylin’ Pork Shoulder Empanadas with the Empanada Dough recipe.

Two days before frying the empanadas, prepare about 3 pounds of pork shoulder. Make a rub by blending ⅓ cup salt, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, and about 1 to 2 tablespoon each black pepper, cumin, and oregano. Press into the pork on all sides and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, place the pork shoulder in the oven, heat it to 250ºF, and roast for 12 hours. Make the Empanada Dough (page 140). Cut it out into circles and place in the refrigerator. Remove the pork, roughly chop it into small pieces (including the fat). Cover a baking sheet with cherry tomatoes, drizzle with olive oil and a heaping handful of sea salt. Roast at 250ºF for 2 hours, until tomatoes are wrinkly.

Make a Cilantro Emulsion: one bunch cilantro, a good amount of salt, a lot of vinegar, about 2 tablespoons olive oil and mayonnaise. Pulse in a food processor until smooth.

Fry as directed on page 141. Serve immediately with the Cilantro Emulsion.

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