Do we need another ice cream book? Much as we love ice cream and its gelato-brethren, probably not — particularly if you have Bruce Weinstein's circa 1999 The Ultimate Ice Cream Book on your bookshelf. If you don't have it, you need it. Trust us.
Ellen Brown's Scoop: 125 Specialty Ice Creams From The Recipes Best Creameries is a very different double (triple?) scoop approach to ice cream. Weinstein is pretty fantastically methodical in his grassroots coverage of every ice cream base imaginable, from Philadelphia-style to crazy creamy bases that can be doctored with Ben & Jerry-type excesses. It makes flipping through Brown's book feel a bit overly instructive.
Yet that's also what makes Brown's book so great — making ice cream isn't difficult, it simply requires more focused attention than we think to make that revelatory every night scoop. Turn the page for more.
Brown's recipes (Campari grapefruit sorbet, cashew caramel swirl ice cream) aren't exactly complicated, they're more the highly focused types. The recipes are interesting enough that we'll even forgive her publisher's use of the word “foodie” — over and over (see the Top Ten “Foodie” Words We Hate). (Editor's note: You might have noticed that Jonathan Gold has lately been using the term “foodist.” Very cool. Very Mikhail Bakhtin.) What's interesting here is that Brown lassoed in and adapted recipes from some pretty stellar ice cream shops around the country, along with plenty of just plain old “good” affairs — the sort of rare balance that makes us want to actually make that chocolate Cabernet ice cream (Moomers in Michigan) and its black licorice ice cream cousin from Wisconsin's Door County Ice Cream Factory.
Still, some of the recipes seem a little overly complicated. Then again, they are from retail ice cream shops, so of course there is a blueberry pie ice cream that we will never make (if we make a homemade berry pie this summer, trust us, we are simply going to scoop our homemade ice cream, should we are so lucky to have it, on top). The rosemary olive oil ice cream and “real” mint chocolate chip made with freshly steeped mint, no extract, are the real gems here.
So sure, that black cherry-fudge swirl brownie ice cream is awfully labor intensive for a Wednesday night. A little too much so, perhaps. But what makes you want to whip it up is not the recipe, but that sidebar on Moomers ice cream, starting with co-owner Nancy Plummer's dairy farm upbringing and the subsequent years of hand-shaking that milk (to integrate the cream, we are told). We like Ms. Plummer already. Even more if she's bringing us a cone of fig gelato (p. 99), apricot and white wine sorbet (p. 160), and tomorrow morning, Turkish coffee ice cream (p. 70).