Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Book Review: The Perfect Scoop: Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, and Sweet Accompaniments

book coverThe Perfect Scoop: Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, and Sweet Accompaniments
David Lebovitz

Ah, summertime. If you’re considering delving into the art and craft of homemade ice cream, I heartily recommend David Lebovitz’s book The Perfect Scoop. Packed with recipes both familiar and exotic, this book is a treat for anyone who loves making or eating ice cream.

Chocolate and vanilla are up first. There are two recipes for each flavor. One is a Philadelphia or American style recipe and the other is a French style. The difference is that Philadelphia style ice-cream does not contain any eggs, only milk, cream, sugar, and various flavorings. French style ice cream uses a cooked custard as its base which contains egg yolks, cream, sugar, and flavorings. Having experimented with both methods, I do prefer the French style. The resulting ice cream has a rich creamy texture and a flavor unequaled by any store bought ice cream. The main drawback to making a custard-based ice cream is, well, having to make a custard base. This involves gently warming the egg yolks with a mixture of milk, cream, and sugar and heating it to the point where the eggs have been sufficiently cooked to ward off bacteria, but not to the point where they have been scrambled. An inexpensive kitchen thermometer is helpful for knowing how long to cook the custard.

Once you have mastered your custard-making skills, the sky’s the limit. Of course, not all of the recipes are custard-based. Orange popsicle and several other fruit flavored ice creams are done Philadelphia style and are very good. Other interesting flavors are cinnamon (excellent with apple pie or any cobbler/crisp type dessert), tiramisu, and fresh mint. Also included are recipes for frozen yogurt, sorbets, and other ice cream-related items like fudge ripple and waffle cones.

This is a fun book and if you don’t already own an ice cream maker, it will definitely have you searching for one. I can honestly say that the chocolate and vanilla recipes make the best ice cream I have ever had. Since the vanilla recipe calls for an actual vanilla bean, I recommend buying them in bulk as they are very expensive when purchased from the grocery store. Lebovitz infuses the book with his own wit and personality, making it an ideal read for anyone who loves good food and good writing.

M.B. Newbill
Southern History Department
Central Library

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