The Perfect Scoop – David Lebovitz

I must start this review off with an apology. There is no excuse for waiting until mid-August to post a review of The Perfect Scoop. If this is the first you are hearing of this excellent book on all things ice cream, then I have let over two months of prime ice cream making and eating time this summer slip through your grip. That’s the bad news. The good news is if you are a true ice cream lover like me, you enjoy it all year around and this book will become an indespensible member of your cookbook library.

Author David Lebovitz who was trained as a pastry chef in France and Belgium and worked at Chez Panisse for 12 years has a true passion for ice cream and it shows in this book. The Perfect Scoop has recipes ranging from the old standbys like chocolate and vanilla to more exotic offerings like Pear-Pecorino Ice Cream and Basil Ice Cream. There are two major styles of ice cream that dominate this book, French-style which is custard based and Philadelphia-style which is made by simply mixing milk or cream with sugar and other ingredients. For some flavors like Chocolate Ice Cream and Vanilla Ice Cream he provides recipes in both styles so you can decide for yourself which you like better.

Personally I prefer the custard based ice creams and gelatos. To me this book is worth the price just for the French-style versions of the Chocolate Ice Cream and Vanilla Ice Cream, which are the best of each I have ever had. Also, finding a good recipe for Zabaglione Gelato was a big deal for me because I have been looking for one for quite a while.

Some other flavors I particularly enjoy are Coffee Ice Cream, Chocolate-Peanut Butter Ice Cream (my wife’s favorite), White Chocolate Ice Cream and Gianduja Gelato, which is made with hazelnuts and milk chocolate. As you can see my tastes don’t really stretch out in the direction of very exotic flavors, I like my chocolate and vanilla. However, I do plan on getting a little more adventurous and trying recipes like the Pear-Pecorino Ice Cream, Basil Ice Cream and the intriguing Guinness-Milk Chocolate Ice Cream. I also plan on trying a recipe for Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream from Mr. Lebovitz’s blog. It didn’t make it into the book, but it sure looks like it should have.

There are also chapters on Granitas, Sorbets and Sherberts, Sauces and Toppings, Mix-Ins and Vessels such as brownies and profiteroles for presenting your homemade ice creams. The Basics chapter in the beginning contains an excellent primer on making the perfect ice cream custard as well as information on ingredients, ice cream machines and other equipment. If you have an ice cream machine at home, or are thinking of getting one, this is the book you need to use the machine to it’s fullest potential.

Publisher: Ten Speed Press, 2007
Hardcover: 246 pages