OK – OK – I LOVE Ice Cream! I’ve had great ice creams over the years. However, when we were in New York City for the IACP Annual Conference in 2012, I had an Ice Cream Epiphany. Lori and I and several of our IACP friends went to dinner at the Meatball Shop (An aside – if you are in New York – find one and eat there!). Dessert is Ice Cream. I ordered the Caramel Ice Cream and my goodness – I had NEVER had anything quite like that. I came home stoked about Ice Cream. I went and bought just about every book I could find on Ice Cream, tried lots of different recipes and fell in LOVE with Jeni’s Ice Cream recipes. Lucky for me, they had opened a shop in Nashville and on our next trip I went there…..twice in one day.
So, on this reference page, I’m going to list some of the best Ice Cream books I found plus some Ice Cream Making equipment. I hope you find this useful and enjoy your Ice Cream as much as I have mine!
If you couldn’t tell from my description – I have to start with Jeni’s Ice Cream books. She has written two of them and I own them both. I really love her explanation about what she uses in the recipes. She doesn’t do an egg based custard, but replaced the eggs with cream cheese. Try them or head to one of their ice cream shops – you won’t be disappointed.
Of all of the Ice Cream books I bought – besides Jeni’s these were the two best of the rest. Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones was written by the folks at BiRite Creamery in San Francisco. The Perfect Scoop is written by David Lebovitz. David has written on a number of topics as well.
Now that you have a collection of recipes, you need the equipment to make ice cream. There are several types of ice cream freezers on the market – I’m not going to include the old fashioned ones that use the ice and rock salt – we are going to focus on those that we can use in the kitchen any time of year.
The most common of these have a chamber that you freeze for at least 24 hours before using. You pour in the custard and turn on the motor and before long you have ice cream.
The other kind has a compressor and does not have any parts that have to be frozen ahead of time. This also adds to the cost of the ice cream freezer. The two brands I am familiar with are Cuisinart and Breville. (Full disclosure – I own an older Cuisinart model.) The Breville has more features and options and costs a little more than the Cuisinart.
Well – I’ve been meaning to write and post this for a VERY long time – finally got around to putting the post together….
I had an incredible experience during my trip to New York City for the International Association of Culinary Professionals conference back in April. When I came back, the quest was on to recreate the taste and texture. Would you believe this was a serving of Ice Cream where we ate dinner that Sunday night?
There was one restaurant that I wanted to go to – a very simple restaurant. They served a very simple dessert – ice cream, with or without cookies to make an ice cream sandwich. I settled for just a dish of caramel ice cream. As I tasted that ice cream, it was like none I could remember before. Now I’ve been to some of the very tip top rated ice cream places around, but nothing like this.
I picked up their cookbook and tried the ice cream recipe at home. It was REALLY good, but not like what I had at the restaurant. What could be the difference? Did I make the caramel just right before adding the other ingredients? Did I cook the custard just right? Is my little countertop Cuisinart Ice Cream maker just not able to freeze it the same way? I wasn’t sure of any of this, so off to consult the references.
I pulled out dessert cookbooks that had Ice Cream recipes in them (David Leibovitz’s Room for Dessert). I got out my reference books including Cookwise by Shirley Corriher and Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking. I started calculating fat content, sugar content and everything looked like it was in the right proportions.
Next was a trip to Barnes and Noble where I now have three new ice cream books on my shelf: The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz, Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones: 90 recipes for Making Your Own Ice Cream and Frozen Treats from Bi-Rite Creamery by Kris Hoogerhyde, Anne Walker and Dabney Gough, and about a week later, I bought Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home. I also went back to my books from Cooks Illustrated to look at their comments.
As I was reading, a few things caught my attention. In almost all of the books, there were two basic types of ice cream – those without eggs (Philadelphia Style) and those with eggs/cooked custards. Proportions were similar throughout all of the books. Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones gave me a lot of ideas for “interesting” flavor combinations, but I was after a killer caramel ice cream recipe. Batch after batch and they all were extremely good, but not quite what I was after. I also thought it was interesting that several books talked about “Curing” the custard and that something happens while it sits that we just don’t understand. So overnight refrigeration of the custard was now standard for me.
It was at this point that my second trip to Barnes and Nobles netted me Jeni’s book. As I was reading the introduction, here was something new! Before she opened her ice cream shop in Ohio, she worked ice cream recipes and made some pretty dramatic changes – but her explanation and reasoning made a lot of sense. She replaced the eggs with corn starch for a thickener and cream cheese to replace the protein from the eggs. Turns out that cream cheese packs a lot of Casein – the same protein as the milk and whipping cream. Off to several more batches and what a difference! The texture was much closer to what I experienced in New York. I guess with the home equipment, the change in the thickening and proteins for the custard really worked! (As a side note, I didn’t mess with the non-custard ice creams – I knew I would not be able to get the target I was after….) I’ve combined a couple of other ideas into the caramel ice cream and everyone that has tried it says that this is “IT.” For my last grilling class, added the caramel ice cream to the dessert – Grilled Pound Cake with Grilled Peaches topped with Caramel Ice Cream and Whipped Cream – all I could say about this combination was “WOW!”
I’ve made several types of ice cream using this method and they all have worked great! I made one batch of vanilla to go with peach cobbler for a private class I did and everyone remarked on how good the ice cream was (this was kind of a “blind” taste test just to see how it would come across). Jeni’s has a branch in Nashville, so when my daughter and I were up there for a day this summer, we made a trek out to Jeni’s in East Nashville to partake of the real thing. It was certainly worth it. When we met up with my wife later that evening, she wanted to try Jeni’s, so off we went for the second time in one day.
Now, don’t get me wrong – the recipes in all of the books were excellent – and my standard Williams Sonoma vanilla ice cream recipe is still a great “go-to” recipe, but I wanted to get just that last little something extra – and I found it with Jeni’s method.
When research Jeni’s further, I found that Saveur had done an article on her and her ice cream (and yes, I had read that article sometime back, but didn’t remember it). Here’s a link to the article (written by Molly O’Neil) and there are several recipes with the article.