There aren’t a lot of books out there that combine science and recipes in a way that it’s accessible for the non-scientist, but also fun and interesting for a food scientist. Hello, my name is ice cream (affiliate link), the ice cream cookbook by Dana Cree, is one of the exceptions to that rule. It’s a beautiful, useful, interesting, very accessible and truly unique book discussing everything ice cream.
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The author – Dana Cree
Hello, my name is ice cream is written by Dana Cree. She’s a trained pastry chef, worked at various high end restaurants and clearly has a true passion for ice cream. She has made pretty incredible (ice cream) creations and clearly knows what she is talking about. She’s a chef, but definitely a scientist as well, reading about the way she experiments and tries out new ideas and combinations.
That expertise and passion shine through in the whole book, while managing to stay connected with the reader. The recipes aren’t written in classical recipe style but it feels like she’s talking you through the recipes and ideas. She writes a lot of explanations on why and how she does things, which I love. Dana has tried to learn everything about ice cream and has managed to write it down in a very accessible manner.
The book has been laid out beautifully with nice sciency drawings in between all the wonderful ice cream photos. Normally, I really prefer a book that has a photo of just about every recipe, it helps visualize the food. For ice cream tough that’s slightly different. They’re all coloured round scoops, so I was perfectly happy with the fact that not all recipes contain a photo. The overall balance of photos, drawing and text works very well.
Content – chapters
The book has been organized in a very accessible way. It starts with several sections on the science of ice cream and its ingredients (of course, being a scientist I really enjoyed those and definitely learned something new). She tells you about colours, the different steps in the process, ice cream machines and the main other ingredients. (I like those topics, as you can see since we’ve written about them quite a lot here: the process, freezing point depression, ice crystal size and emulsifiers & stabilizers.
If you’ just want to get started making ice cream you can skip this section and head straight to the recipes (but do come back later to read it!). She discusses custard style ice creams (made with eggs), there’s those made without eggs but plenty dairy (called Philadelphia style ice cream, never heard of that name before!), sherbets (contain only very little dairy) and frozen yogurts.
In the last sections she gives you tons of tips on how to level up your ice cream with fruit purees, add-ins and more complicated composed scoops.
Personally, I like the ‘plain’ ice cream recipes best. They definitely aren’t really plain (ever made Eggnog or popcorn ice cream?).
Of course, before writing this review I had to test out some of the recipes. The ice creams I chose to make where a custard style eggnog ice cream and a Philadelphia style chocolate ice cream. Both probably are some of the best ice creams I ever made myself.
None of the two recipes was especially complicated to make. The flavour of the recipes is very balanced, the chocolate ice cream was truly very chocolately (which is what I like!) and the eggnog ice cream actually tasted like ice cream. A few simple ingredients (rum, nutmeg and bay leaf) gave the ice cream a nice depth of flavour. None were overly sweet.
My main take away though: chilling & patience are important. Previously, I would make my ice cream base, leave it to cool for a few minutes or so and then make it into an ice cream. Dana however is very adamant that you should definitely leave the base to rest for a couple of hours before putting it into the ice cream machine. So, I did. And whether that made the ice cream so smooth and easy to scoop, I’m not sure, but the texture certainly turned out wonderful!
Overall, if you’re interested in learning more about ice cream, have an interest in making ice cream yourself and have an ice cream machine (this definitely is a must for most recipes, Dana does give advice on which machine to buy), this book is for you. I should have probably bought it sooner, it’s been a joy to read and use.
On the other hand, if you just want to make a quick ice cream once in a while, don’t have an ice cream machine (nor the intention to get one) and aren’t as much interested in understanding recipes as opposed to just following them, this is probably less of a fit. Oh, and if you want to eat dairy free ice cream, you should probably look for another book as well. Egg-free on the other hand isn’t a problem, there’s a lot of recipes without eggs.
Interested? You can buy it here.