Capitalizing on two converging trends — food trucks and Twitter — Natasha Case and Freya Estreller alchemized ice cream into gold. In their new cookbook, Coolhaus Ice Cream Book (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), which came out May 20, the two L.A.-based creators of the Coolhaus Ice Cream Truck share their recipes for their ice cream sandwiches, and give us all the backstory of how they came to be an ice cream powerhouse in this town.
Drawn together by their love of food and architecture, or Farchitecture, Case and Estreller invested in a $2,900 mail truck and decided to focus on ice cream sandwiches, which they call “the ultimate edible structure.”
The two women landed on the name Coolhaus, for them a triple entendre. The admittedly very cool name is at once a play on the term Bauhaus (the influential modernist design movement of the 1920s and 1930s), an allusion to the Dutch architect and theorist Rem Koolhaas and the "cool house" of an ice cream sandwich.
Case and Estreller began their business at Coachella in 2009 where, with very little planning, money or experience (the truck didn't even run!), they “sold more drinks than ice cream sandwiches.” This of course seems hard to imagine now, but at the time, food trucks, and specifically the foodie versions of the old school standards, were still a novelty. Imagine.
Early on, there was a small selection of cookies: chocolate chip, oatmeal-raisin, Snickerdoodle and double chocolate. And basic ice cream flavors: mint chip, vanilla, lemon and strawberry.
Groupies began to proliferate and Coachella ended up netting the duo an investor. Soon after, the media caught on. Estreller and Case quit their day jobs and became full-time ice cream gurus, with multiple trucks in four cities, two stores, an online shop and a nationwide presence in markets such as Whole Foods.
The Coolhaus Ice Cream Book recounts the rise of a growing empire while sharing tips, recipes, anecdotes and photos (by Brian Leatart) of the sweet treats. A chart pairs up ice cream recipes with cookie recipes for a handy guide to making complete sandwiches. For example, the vegan ginger molasses cookie, combined with the green tea ice cream creates the Tea-dao Ando. It's a gorgeous, coffee table-worthy tome.
The recipes in the book are not for the faint of heart, cooking-wise. You need a certain amount of ambition to take on the ice cream-making, although maybe less so for the cookie-making. To simplify the recipes, Case and Estreller explain three different bases: plain custard, chocolate custard and eggless. This trio of bases can then be spiffed up with a multitude of flavors and ingredients to make the Coolhaus creations. For example, the spicy pineapple-cilantro-chile ice cream starts with either the eggless or plain custard base, augmented with serrano chile, pineapple puree and fresh cilantro leaves.
The recipes for ice cream range from unusual, (foie gras ice cream), to intriguing (spiked eggnog ice cream). Quite a few of the flavors use alcohol (blueberry mojito, beer and pretzel), making them a good fit for adult parties, but there are also plenty of G-rated options, like the adorable Froot Loops and milk (keep reading for the recipe).
The cookie choices are equally appealing, with more savory versions, such as lemon-pine nut-rosemary cookies, or over-the-top, such as the double chocolate-peppermint cookies, which involve a York peppermint patty topping each ball of dough before melting alluringly into the finished cookie. For those who like to cook without breaking too much of a sweat, you could buy the ice cream and make the cookies, as the cookie recipes do not require special tools (like an ice cream maker).
Case and Estreller have put together a cookbook that begs to be gazed at, shared, used and abused. The recipes can be made singly or combined depending on your level of ambition — and the size of your sweet tooth. At a relatively inexpensive twenty-five bucks, Coolhaus Ice Cream Book makes a good gift for foodie friends who are looking to stretch their skills, and maybe even get a little tipsy in the process.
Froot Loops and Milk Ice Cream
From: Coolhaus Ice Cream Book
Makes: About 11?2 quarts
Plain Custard Base:
Note: Use the freshest eggs available for best results. If possible, refrigerate the base for a full 24 hours — the longer, the better. We like to chill our bases in plastic or stainless-steel pitchers with airtight lids for easy pouring into the ice cream maker after chilling.
2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
11?4 cups granulated sugar
8 large egg yolks
1. In a 4-quart saucepan, combine milk, cream, and half of sugar. Set over high heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a boil, about 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk yolks and remaining sugar until smooth, heavy, and pale yellow, about 30 seconds.
3. When cream mixture just comes to a boil, whisk, remove from heat, and, in a slow stream, pour half of cream mixture over yolk-sugar mixture, whisking constantly until blended.
4. Return the pan to the stovetop over low heat. Whisking constantly, stream the yolk-cream mixture back into pan.
5. With a wooden spoon, continue stirring until the mixture registers 165 to 180 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 2 minutes. Do not heat above 180 degrees, or the eggs in base will scramble. The mixture should be slightly thickened and coat the back of spoon, with steam rising, but not boiling. (If you blow on the back of the spoon and the mixture ripples, you’ve got the right consistency.)
6. Pour the base into a clean airtight container and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours before using.
7. Use the base within 3 to 5 days.
Froot Loops & Milk Ice Cream:
6 cups Froot Loops cereal, plus 2 tablespoons for garnish
Plain custard base (see above)
1. Put the Froot Loops in a bowl and pour the hot base over them. Let stand to get soggy. Using an immersion blender or a whisk, mix until smooth. If using Plain Custard Base, refrigerate as directed.
2. Process the base in an ice cream maker, according to manufacturer’s instructions.
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3. Scrape into an airtight storage container. Freeze for a minimum of two hours before serving.
Excerpted from the COOLHAUS ICE CREAM BOOK © 2014 by Natasha Case, Freya Estreller with Kathleen Squires Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.