A thousand perfect scoops

So. Everybody and their mother has David Lebovitz‘s awesome book, The Perfect Scoop. And everybody and their mother has blogged about it. But I can’t help but tell you about it too. It’s really that awesome. We’re talking pages and pages mouth-watering, butt-building frozen goodness.. it’s enough to make you swear off bikinis forever.

Gianduja Stracciatella Gelato

My sister, mother, and I have dutifully been working our way through the book. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it. Here’s a quick rundown of the ice creams I’ve tried. My sister has made others, but I can’t remember exactly which ones or what she thought of them. Maybe she’ll let us know in the comments—hint hint.

Cinnamon Ice Cream – Richly flavored with cinnamon, without being “hot” or tasting over-spiced. This was one of my favorites. It calls for ten cinnamon sticks, so this might be a good time to hit up your local Indian market, if you’ve got one, to avoid a swift kick in the pocketbook.

Gianduja Stracciatella Gelato – Also one of my favorites. Gianduja is a hazelnut-milk chocolate ice cream from Italy, and I couldn’t resist the oozy, creamy picture of Gianduja Stracciatella in David’s book. It was calling to me. Seriously. The ice cream is incredibly rich and the hazelnut is subtle. It’s something like eating a less-strong Nutella ice cream. I also must say that I’m a huge fan of stracciatella—chocolate “chips” made by drizzling melted chocolate into the ice cream in its final minutes of churning. My sister did the majority of the hard work on this one: peeling the hazelnuts.

Mango Sorbet – This one has an amazing mouthfeel and it’s incredibly mango-y. This is my favorite of the sorbets I’ve made. In fact, this one’s been made three times (twice by me, once by my mom)!

Mocha Sorbet – My mom made this one on a night when I wasn’t there, and I tried the leftovers. It had a good flavor, but was a bit icy.

Raspberry-Rosé Sorbet – I made this one for an intermezzo at a fancy schmancy 60th birthday dinner. It was absolutely perfect for that role. I’m not sure I’d want to eat a big bowl of this one for dessert as the rosé flavor is so strong, but it was a fantastic palate cleanser and tastebud awakener.

Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream – This one isn’t in the book, but the recipe is over on David’s blog. I was actually disappointed by this one. I don’t really know what I was expecting it to taste like, but it tasted like Werther’s Original candies. Nearly exactly. Except that there were bits of salty-crunchy caramel interspersed. Don’t get me wrong, it was delicious, but it just reminded me too much of Werther’s.

Strawberry-Sour Cream Ice Cream – My mom came back from visiting my sister absolutely raving about this ice cream, and rightly so. We made it twice more here in California while the berries were at their peak, and it is quite possibly my favorite of all the ice creams (I know, the blasphemy! Chocolate is not at the top of the list!) The tart sour cream flavor is perfect with the strawberries. We substitute Grand Marnier for the kirsch, since it’s what we have on hand.

Vanilla Frozen Yogurt – Incredibly simple to make and absolutely delicious. A lot of the quality depends on the yogurt you start off with, so choose a good brand of whole-milk yogurt. I use Strauss Family Creamery; it’s got a great tangy flavor.

Vanilla Ice Cream – A simple custard-based vanilla ice cream. This one was a bit too eggy for me, but was good nonetheless.

On my list to make next are: Chocolate-Peanut Butter Ice Cream, Goat Cheese Ice Cream, Lemon-Buttermilk Sherbet, and Raspberry-Champagne Sorbet. Mmmm… Somebody pass me a spoon.

The book is inspiring and well-written, with clear instructions. David’s pre-recipe musings are entertaining and you can feel his personality come through. If you like his blog and you like ice cream, you must buy this book. Like now. I’m serious, people. To tempt you, I’ll offer up the Gianduja Stracciatella Gelato recipe.

Gianduja Stracciatella Gelato
from David Lebovitz‘s The Perfect Scoop

1 1/2 cups hazelnuts, toasted
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp coarse salt
4 oz good-quality milk chocolate, finely chopped
5 large egg yolks
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
5 oz good-quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (not chips)

Rub the hazelnuts in a kitchen towel to remove as much of the papery skins as possible, then finely chop them in a food processor or blender.

Warm the milk with 1 cup of the cream, sugar, and salt in a saucepan. Once warm, remove from the heat and add the chopped hazelnuts. Cover and let steep at room temperature for one hour.

Put the milk chocolate pieces in a large bowl. Heat the remaining 1 cup cream in a medium saucepan until it just begins to boil. Pour it over the milk chocolate pieces and stir until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Set a mesh strainer over the top.

Pour the hazelnut-infused milk through a strainer into a medium saucepan, squeezing the nuts firmly with your hands to extract as much of the flavorful liquid as possible. Discard the hazelnuts.

Rewarm the hazelnut-infused mixture. In a separate medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm hazelnut mixture into the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm hazelnut mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the milk chocolate mixture. Add the vanilla and stir until cool over an ice bath.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.

While the ice cream churns, chop the 5 oz of dark chocolate and melt it in a double boiler (or carefully in the microwave, as we did). During the final minutes of churning, drizzle the chocolate in a very thin stream into the churning ice cream.

Makes about 1 quart.



  1. Laurel
    Posted July 9, 2007 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    alright, as requested (i’m not sure i’m getting the names exactly right, but oh well):

    delicious. i made it with half milk chocolate and half dark chocolate-espresso, and used a really good, strong stout (i find bottled guinness, well, bland.) this ice cream turned out incredibly complex and addictive. yum.

    this is the alternative version of the vanilla ice cream – you just add some jack daniels and some candied pecans. YUM. it was really fantastic. it’d be absolutely divine on bread pudding.

    this had the tartness of lemon sorbet but with a little more oomph from the half and half.

    i’ve also played around with a couple of recipes in there – made mint chocolate chip ice cream using the vanilla recipe but substituting mint extract for the vanilla and adding the stracciatella. yum. also made orange blossom frozen yogurt using really great goat yogurt and a little orange blossom water. all fantastic, and fun to experiment with.

  2. Posted July 9, 2007 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    I think between you, me and your sister we’ve covered a good bit of the book! It’s funny that you mention the Werther’s thing about the Caramel ice cream. I had to add quite a bit more salt to the ice cream base to get the flavor I wanted, almost a full teaspoon – it made a huge difference. I have also made the vanilla raspberry swirl, which was excellent, and lemon buttermilk sherbet. It has good flavor, but the texture is kind of icy after freezing solid. Really good with berries though!

  3. Jes
    Posted July 9, 2007 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    wow! looks really good!!
    is it possible to make gelato or any ice cream without an ice cream maker?

  4. Posted July 9, 2007 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    Laurel – Thanks :)

    Alice – Yeah, I should have probably added more salt, but it was too late by the time I realized it!

    Jes – There are some methods, though the results you’ll get might not have quite as nice a texture as if you’d used a maker. One option is to chill the custard thoroughly in the fridge, and then transfer it to large bowl and stick it in the freezer. After half an hour, check on it and beat it with an electric mixer (or whisk by hand, if you’re super strong) to break up any crystals that may have formed and to incorporate air into the mixture. Put the bowl back in the freezer and check on it again after half an hour, beating as before. Do this once or twice more and then leave the ice cream in the freezer for another hour or two to firm up to your liking. Good luck!

  5. Posted July 11, 2007 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    Ooh, chocolate peanut btter! I like 31 Flavors choco-peanut butter but can’t find any other retailers who sell chocolate ice cream with ribbons of peanut butter. They usually have bits of peanut butter cup (ick, I don’t like cold hard chocolate). This may be the tipping point in my deciding to buy an ice cream mchine!

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