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Jun 28, 2007 09:08 PM

The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

As we all well know, it's ice cream season!! Truth be told, ice cream is not a seasonal event for me but pretty much a year-round pleasure. Two summers ago, as you may recall, I was on an ice cream making frenzy. My most memorable concoctions from that summer:

Strawberry balsamic yogurt gelato (or frozen yogurt):

End of the summer tomato sorbet:

I've been enjoying the recent ice cream threads and am happy to see that some hounds have purchased David Lebovitz's latest sweets book, The Perfect Scoop. I'm a big fan of his Room for Dessert so had no hesitation when I heard he had come out w/ an ice cream book. I really like David's easy writing style and "voice"; he seems to have fun in the kitchen.

So I'm starting this thread in the hopes of getting fellow ice cream obsessives to discuss our experiences as we churn our way through the book. Personally, I don't intend to paraphrase any of his recipes since I hope if people are curious enough they will check it out from their library or buy it.

I got very excited when I perused it at home for the first time, bookmarking recipes that were particularly lusty. Vietnamese coffee.Toasted almond and candied cherry. Green tea w/ kinako (roasted soybean) powder. Gianduja gelato. Lemon-buttermilk sherbet. Everything sounded pretty amazing, actually. I'm not a "chunky" ice cream person, but some of David's toppings and mix-ins look fantastic!

Having an abundance of buttermilk in my fridge, I started w/ the lemon-buttermilk sherbet. I love lemon and buttermilk and have an affinity for tart and tangy flavors. This recipe worked really well and resulted in a refreshing and tangy treat. The balance of lemon, buttermilk, and sugar was just right. The sherbet consistency was just as I expected, like a slightly creamy sorbet. Husband who is not as fond of sour flavors thought it was nice, but I was the faithful one who polished it off. Sorry, no photos.

My second flavor was the gianduja (milk choc-hazelnut) gelato, one of my favorite gelato flavors. Containing five egg yolks and mostly cream, this was quite rich, like a dense mousse. The custard base was very thick after chilling overnight. After churning for about 20 minutes, it got pretty thick and stiff.

Photo post-churning:

It was decadent and sweet, but almost too rich for me right away. Interestingly, I thought it tasted best after a day or two in the freezer. I really liked its chewy mouthfeel and hazelnut infusion, but next time I'm going to use more milk and play w/ the recipe so that it's a little lighter. Husband gave it a big thumbs up.

Photo of scoops right after churning when it was still a little soft:

So...what else have hounds tried from the book?? Let's get churning...

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  1. Perfect timing, I just got the book yesterday, and am planning on an ice cream frenzy this weekend! Either Fig Ice Cream or Peach (or Nectarine) Ice Cream, I think.

    2 Replies
    1. re: JasmineG

      So I made the peach ice cream a little while ago -- the base yesterday, and I just churned it. He says that it's best right out of the mixer, and I liked it then, but it melted a little too fast. It uses sour cream as a part of the base, and the sour cream flavor was pretty evident in the final product, which was fine, but took away a little from the peachyness of it. If I make this again, I might add one more peach to the mix to increase the peach flavor.

      The rest is in the freezer now, I'll see how it is after freezing for a little while.

      1. re: JasmineG

        Hmmm, so after freezing, the peach ice cream had great flavor, but the texture was really icy -- he said that the texture of that one was best out of the maker, but out of the maker it was a little too melty for me. I think that next I'll try one of his custard based ice creams.

      2. I made his vanilla frozen yogurt, and loved it - so simple and good. I've made it with both Greek yogurt (2%) and regular, full-fat yogurt. I'm not sure which I like best.

        I also made his strawberry frozen yogurt, and it was fantastic. Fresh local strawberries, let them sit for an hour with sugar and a few tablespoons of vanilla vodka(he recommends vodka or kirsch, but vanilla vodka was what I had), and then blended with whole milk yogurt. It was so incredibly red and so strawberry-tasting, it was unreal. I highly recommend it.

        8 Replies
        1. re: addiegirl

          Sounds great! I'm going to try the vanilla frozen yogurt w/ my favorite plain yogurt, Straus whole milk.

          1. re: Carb Lover

            I made it with Trader Joe's organic whole milk yogurt, which is fine, but next time I'd use a higher quality yogurt - it's such a simple recipe that a higher-quality yogurt would really stand out. The recipe is great through - just enough sugar to sweeten it up, but it's still plently tart with natural yogurt flavor. Enjoy!

            1. re: Carb Lover


              I used to use Strauss until about a year ago when a friend rec-ed Pavel's Organic Low Fat. I've totally switched. Strauss was always a bit too runny for me. Pavel's makes great frozen yogurt. I always use it for my regular frozen yog... yoghurt, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar and a dash of vanilla. It's great even in my puny and inadequate Donvier.

              1. re: oakjoan

                I recently bought Pavel's for the first time, the lowfat version, and found it very odd. The yogurt had a serious "whang" to it, almost alcoholic in flavor. Is this usual?

            2. re: addiegirl

              Could you paraphrase the proportions for the frozen yogurt? I put my freezer bowl back in the freezer because of this thread.

              Carblover, I'd love a look at the lemon buttermilk sorbet, too. I'll look for the book, really I will.

              1. re: JGrey

                As I recall, it was 3 cups yogurt, 3/4 cup sugar, tsp. vanilla. Mix it together and refrigerate for an hour, then freeze in machine. You can cut back on the sugar and still get good results.

                1. re: addiegirl

                  Thank you! I have the full fat belgian stuff from White Mountain or something like that, we'll see how it goes.

              2. re: addiegirl

                My first batch of the vanilla yogurt is ripening in the freezer as I type. It shows great restraint for me not to have eaten it directly out of the machine. Heck, it was hard enough not to eat the yogurt-vanilla-sugar mix!

                I used full-fat Fage, and it basically tastes like a really good cheesecake. Frozen.

              3. I attended his "cooking" class at Draegar's last week just for his olive oil and parsley ice creams. They were both very good, IF you like olive oil or parsley in your ice cream. Personally, I would not eat a bowl of either one the way I'd eat mint or Cherry Garcia, but they're fine served in small quantities with fruit or cookies. David was wonderful: funny, informative, personable.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Claudette

                  I was at this class too, and I was really surprised by the parsley ice cream, since I don't normally go for oddball ice cream flavors. He served small scoops atop mixed berries macerated in cassis. Of all the wonderful and decadent things served that night, this was the one where I was looking around the room furtively wondering if anyone would notice if I licked my plate. The parsley flavor became simply a note of fresh and green next to the sweet and tangy berries. For me, it was a perfect summer dessert.

                  1. re: Pistou

                    I've had basil ice cream before too, and it was wonderful!

                    1. re: Katie Nell

                      Oh, now that sounds great! I'm going to have to look around for basil ice cream.

                      Has anybody tried any of the ice cream recipes in the SF Chron? It was last week or the week before. You can prob find it on SFGate.

                2. The gianduja sounds like it might be worth the price of the book alone-my wife and kids love nutella, can't wait to pick it up

                  1. Ah, you've started the post I've been thinking about but had no time to get done!

                    I started with the vanilla ice cream (no egg version) and so far, it's our favorite for its simplicity and clean taste. I made it with 2 c. cream and 1 c. milk.

                    Then I did the frozen yogurt using Trader Joe's whole Greek style yogurt. 1 container is 2.5 cups, so I just used that. I did halve the sugar and I might even reduce it further. It's a little icier than the ice cream, but light and refreshing. It goes really well with berries.

                    If you make the mint ice cream (or make it for mint chip ice cream), I would recommend not using eggs as in the recipe. I would just churn it after the mint has steeped in the cream/milk and chilled. I felt like the egginess of the custard took away from the subtle mint flavors. However, using the book's instruction to make "chips" (is it Straticella?) was perfect!

                    The chocolate raspberry was very tasty, but I'd strain out the seeds - too distracting to have to pick out raspberry seeds from your teeth while trying to enjoy ice cream.

                    The apricot and plum recipes are wonderful, too! The plum sorbet is even better than the ice cream.

                    In the book, David mentions that while testing recipes the one ice cream he didn't give away was the malted milk ice cream. I can totally see why! It's worth the time (which isn't much) to make the custard. This ice cream is just so creamy and yummy. I tasted the custard base to check its temperature and almost started eating it as is!

                    I buy little pint ice cream containers from Smart & Final to store the ice cream in. I also write on the lid what I made, whether it has eggs, and the date. So far, both the ice creams with and without eggs stay creamy and scoopable (firm, but not rock hard) even after a week. I don't know if that's a testament to my storage containers or the recipe, but I'm willing to give credit to the recipe. =)

                    The blondie recipe in the back is a good one, too. Buttery and chewy - I admit they never lasted to be a mix-in or a base.

                    I haven't made any sherbets, but I hear the buttermilk lemon is just wonderful, as Carb Lover's post confirms.

                    This is really one of the best cookbooks I've ever picked up. Just about everything you can think of is in there, included toppings, cones, eggless cookie dough, and candied fruits. What I love most is that the ice creams that don't require a custard really work and make it so easy to whip up a batch of ice cream after work (assuming your frozen canister is ready to go).

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: leanneabe

                      how much mint does his recipe call for? I've got a boatload of lemon mint on my back porch and am dying to use it in ice cream. I tried it once and the flavor was way too muted. Wondering how much I should use when it steeps in the milk and cream...

                      1. re: adamclyde

                        He calls for 2 cups (80 g) of lightly packed fresh mint leaves. Other ingredients are 1 c. whole milk, 3/4 c. sugar, 2 c. heavy cream, pinch salt, and 5 large egg yolks. Just by looking at the recipe, I agree w/ leanneabe that this is too many yolks. I personally would omit eggs and thicken w/ cornstarch or a more neutral-tasting thickener.

                        1. re: Carb Lover

                          I would increase the mint (or add some mint extract) as the flavor was pretty subtle. I don't think I'd add a thickener, though, since the milk/cream ratio is the same as his vanilla ice cream and that came out perfectly creamy without any cornstarch.

                          1. re: Carb Lover

                            I made this last night and you all are right, it was WAY too eggy. Next time I'll double the amount of mint leaves and drop the custard altogether - thanks for the tip!

                            1. re: Carb Lover

                              I have to retract my previous comment about 5 yolks being too eggy until I actually try David's recipe. I reread an old post of mine on mint ice cream wherein I used 4 XL yolks and didn't complain about egginess. I just didn't like the smell of eggs combined w/ mint over heat.

                              Link to a separate thread on TPS mint ice cream:

                              1. re: Carb Lover

                                I find that nearly all my custard-based ice creams smell a bit eggy when I'm cooking it. But if I haven't overcooked at all, by the time it's cooled and churned, there's no eggy flavor at all - just the irreplaceable rich smoothness of custard ice cream. mmmm.

                                1. re: adamclyde

                                  One thing I noticed in David's class was that he cooked the custard a lot less than I am used to cooking mine. He never even got close to point where you might get cooked bits of egg. Not like, say, pastry cream where you need it to set up under refrigeration. In fact, when he put the custard through a sieve, there was a film of uncooked egg white left behind.

                                  I had one of those, "oh, duh" moments--since the freezing will make the custard firm, you only need to cook it to make the eggs safe and to thicken slightly.

                          2. re: leanneabe

                            Impressive! Thanks for sharing your comments. I have tons of plums right now so am going to make a plum sorbet next. I also have the malted milk on my to-try list, so glad to hear you liked it so much.

                            I polished off the gianduja a couple night's ago and was amazed that the texture never diminished over time. It was still smooth and creamy and had no ice crystals. It was still too rich and sweet for my taste, but I'm so grateful that David gives me the guidelines and ideas and I'm free to modify from there!

                            Thanks for the pint-sized container reminder. I should go out and get some of those!