Once you've mastered the vanilla ice cream, you can make any recipe in the book, as every ice cream variation starts with the same basic stovetop-custard base of heavy cream, lowfat milk, sugar, salt, and egg yolks, put together the same way. Perhaps in wanting to appeal to the broadest possible base of home cooks (and families), the authors don't give temperature measurements for their basic custard recipe, relying instead on the traditional direction to cook until it "coats the back of a spatula." In my experience, most home cooks are very jumpy around custard mixtures, and usually undercook them in their hopes of avoiding a scrambled mess. Using an instant-read, digital thermometer to gauge doneness solves this problem and gives the most consistent results; it would have be helpful if the authors had included stage-by-stage temperature readings for their more advanced, gadget-minded cooks, along with the typical visual cues.
The chapters are organized by main ingredient, so if you're craving caramel, you can turn to the caramel chapter and find everything brown and sugary, from Brown Sugar Ice Cream with a Ginger-Caramel Swirl to Toffee Chip Cookies, Brown Sugar Graham Crackers, and Caramel Sauce. It can make for some flipping back and forth if you want to make a variety of toppings, however, since the sauces—Vanilla Butterscotch, Hot Fudge, Espresso Fudge, Caramel, Blueberry-Lemon—aren't listed one after the other in a toppings chapter but separated, respectively, into the Vanilla, Chocolate, Coffee and Tea, Caramel, and Berries chapters. I also wish there was a stone-fruit chapter; homemade peach ice cream is a food of the gods, and I'm sure Walker and Hoogerhyde could make an appropriately celestial version.
And before a second edition is printed, I hope the copyediting team at Ten Speed Press does another proof-read, since at least two recipes have embarrassing gaps where significant items are mentioned in the ingredient list and then never seen again. In the Caramelized Banana Ice Cream, for example, the bananas are caramelized, pureed, and set aside, with no mention of when or how they should be added to the ice-cream base. Pumpkin puree is listed as an ingredient in Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream, but never mixed in. Small oversights, but having been a cookbook editor, I know that these are the types of mistakes that drive readers crazy. (According to Ten Speed, the authors have since fixed these omissions for future editions, and the corrected instructions are available on the book's Frequently Asked Questions page.)
Overall, I'd give this two-and-a-half scoops. The ice cream (and dairy-free fruit popsicle) recipes are fun, tasty, and very of-the-moment, and the numerous side recipes for cakes, cookies, and toppings makes this as much a dessert cookbook as an ice cream one. Plus, buying the book is the only way to find out how to make their madly popular Salted Caramel ice cream, since that's the one recipe that reviewers and bloggers can't get permission to reprint. The secret? Sugar and salt. For the rest of it, you'll have to buy the book.
Balsamic Strawberry Ice Cream Cake. Photograph: Paige Green
Balsamic Strawberry Ice Cream
In the United States, peanut butter and jelly are considered a perfect match. In Italy, it's the same thing with strawberries and balsamic vinegar, a classic combination that makes a simple, refreshing dessert. If you've never had this stellar pairing, give our frozen version a shot. The vinegar is subtle and adds depth to the bright sweetness of the strawberries. We add it in two stages (with the cooking berries and just before churning) for an even more complex flavor.
Reprinted with permission from Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones by Kris Hoogerhyde, Anne Walker and Dabney Gough, copyright 2012. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.
Prep Time: 15 minutes, plus 2 hours' chilling time
Cooking Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes, plus 2 to 6 hours' chilling time
Yield: 1 quart
For the Strawberry Puree:
1 1/2 pints strawberries (3 cups), preferably organic, hulled and halved or quartered
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
For the Base:
5 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup 1% or 2% milk
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Cook the Berries
1. Combine the berries with the 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar and 2 teaspoons vinegar in a large nonreactive skillet. Put the skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the strawberries are soft and the liquid they have released has reduced somewhat, 6 to 8 minutes.
2. Let cool slightly, then transfer the berries and their juice to a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth and refrigerate until ready to use.
Make the Base
3. In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the yolks just to break them up, then whisk in half the sugar (1/4 cup). Set aside.
4. In a heavy nonreactive saucepan, stir together the cream, milk, salt, and the remaining sugar (1/4 cup) and put the pan over medium-high heat. When the mixture approaches a bare simmer, reduce the heat to medium.
5. Carefully scoop out about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture and, whisking the eggs constantly, add the cream to the bowl with egg yolks. Repeat, adding another 1/2 cup of the hot cream to the bowl with the yolks. Using a heatproof rubber spatula, stir the cream in the saucepan as you slowly pour the eggs-and-cream mixture from the bowl into the pan.
6. Cook the mixture carefully over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it is thickened, coats the back of a spatula, and holds a clear path when you run your finger across the spatula, 1-2 minutes longer.
7. Strain the base through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean container. Set the container into an ice-water bath, wash your spatula, and use it to stir the base occasionally until it is cool. Remove the container from the ice-water bath, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate the base for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Freeze the Ice Cream
8. Whisk the strawberry puree and the remaining 2 teaspoons vinegar into the chilled base.