Sunday, May 13, 2018

Is it Worth Making Ice Cream at Home?


I have been making ice cream and, to a much lesser extent, sorbet at home for years. It's easy to do and permits you to tailor your ice cream to your own taste and to take advantage of the wonderful produce you can find at your nearest greenmarket for much of the year. Although there are many books that tell you how to do it, the best I have found is The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz, which has just appeared in a revised an updated version. (Lebovitz, who now lives in Paris, is the author of numerous excellent cookbooks and of the justly popular blog,

There are two basic approaches to ice cream: French-style, which is custard based, and Philadelphia-style, which is made with cream, sugar and milk but no eggs. Most of Lebovitz's recipes are for the richer, smoother French-style, but I nearly always use the Philadelphia-style since (i) it is a lot easier and (ii) does not heap egg-based cholesterol atop the already fatty cream and milk. Generally the French-style recipes are easily converted to Philadelphia-style.

For example, I adopted Lebovitz's French-style basil ice cream recipe and made Philadelphia-style rosemary ice cream,

Rosemary ice cream
just as years ago I made lemon verbena ice cream with the same method using Clotilde Dusoulier's proportions.

And that illustrates another use of Lebovitz's book. Once you master his simple method (either syle),you can adapt other people's (or your own) recipes in a flash, with a near-certainty of success.

The book also contains many recipes for sorbets, sherbets and granitas with copious mix-ins that Lebovitz suggests as pairings at the end of his recipes. Though I am not big on mix-ins, he has a great array of easy-to-prepare items, and suggests many accompaniments, that would turn an ice cream or sorbet into a complete dessert.

Of his chocolate sorbet, Lebovitz writes "This is the perfect chocolate sorbet -- it's very rich, dense and full of bittersweet chocolate flavor, and it's one of my all-time favorites." Based on this and my love for the cacao amer sorbet at Berthillon in Paris, I decided to give it a try. I used Ghirardelli's 60% bittersweet -- my go-to bittersweet chocolate for baking -- and it came out great.

Chocolate sorbet
Not quite Berthillon quality, but then, whose is? Next time I plan to go a little more bitter and will try Valrhona's 70% Guanaja. l can hardly wait to try it.

Today I found the season's first rhubarb at the farmer's market, so I made Lebovitz's strawberry-rhubarb sorbet with his recommended rhubarb compote. A lovely sweet-tart way to take advantage of this short-lived crop, although the strawberries are far from those that you find in mid-summer.

Strawberry-rhubarb sorbet with rhubarb compote
 The Perfect Scoop has so many wonderful sounding recipes that it is difficult to choose which ones to mention. But here are the ones I plan to try over the next few months:
  • Labneh ice cream with pistachio-sesame brittle
  • Tiramisù ice cream
  • Lavender-honey ice cream
  • Panforte ice cream
  • Dried apricot-pistachio ice cream
  • Prune-armagnac ice cream
  • Orange-szechwan pepper ice cream
  • Super lemon ice cream
  • Toasted coconut ice cream
  • Mocha sorbet
  • Chocolate coconut sorbet
  • Apricot sorbet
  • Cherry sorbet
  • Raspberry-rosé sorbet
  • Spritz sorbet
Not counting ginger ice cream (my absolute favorite, which I keep around most of the time), green tea ice cream, vanilla ice cream and several others that I made from the first edition of the book.

I am not a fan of granitas, except from street vendors, so may pass on all the recipes in that section, although some sound great (mojito granita). Also, I have not yet moved on to the sauces and mix-ins, but definitely do intend to try Lebovitz's lean chocolate sauce, mocha sauce, creamy caramel sauce, candied citrus peel, wet walnuts (nostalgia for my late father), fudge ripple, stracciatella and croquant. I have other recipes for most of these, but Lebovitz is unusually reliable; his recipes are well-conceived, well-written and extensively tested.

If you've ever thought about making ice cream or sorbet, do it this summer, and get The Perfect Scoop today.

Bobby Jay

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