I love ice cream (don't we all?). But I also love making it to my own taste and texture. As many of you know, I am working on an ice cream book which is about two years from publication. In the process of researching ideas I have just discovered a recently published book that has really impressed me. Hello, My Name Is Ice Cream, is written by Dana Cree, a pastry chef at Publican in Chicago. Dana gracefully rides the cusp of hardcore scientist and fun filled best friend. And dear to my precision loving heart each ingredient is listed with its percentage of the entire base and under it is first the weight in grams and then the volume. How could I not feel right at home with this book! Dana has addressed the great nemesis of homemade ice cream: iciness. Each recipe offers a choice of 4 different "texture agents" from commercial to cornstarch. They are numbered at the bottom of the page and the number and technique corresponds to where it appears in the recipe. This is design brilliance at its best and reflects the approach of a brilliant and original author. In the front section of the book, Dana explains why the volume often does not correlate with the gram weight by saying: they are not direct conversions of each other; it didn't make sense to end up with wonky things like "1 cup minus a tablespoon plus a quarter teaspoon. I balanced each recipe within its own discipline....If you want the nuanced textures as I designed them, use a scale and measure your ingredients in grams. Otherwise stick with cups and spoons, which are a little more approximate. The ice cream will be no less delicious, just a touch less perfectly textured. In a phone conversation, Dana told me that all the recipes were tested both by weight and by volume. The first recipe I have tried from the book is the banana ice cream. The technique of infusing the very ripe (read blackened) banana in the dairy mixture intrigued me. On my first try, the flavor was blissfully pure banana but the texture was icy--my fault--I thought I could get away without a texturing agent. Dana recommended the cornstarch slurry "texture agent" to bind up some of the water, advising that if that didn't work fully to my satisfaction, I should simmer the dairy mixture for 2 to 5 minutes before adding the cornstarch slurry (to evaporate the water that turns to ice crystals). Since I only had one more black banana at the ready I did both, which produced a beautifully thickened base and sure enough--dense and creamy with not a trace of iciness. (My middle name is concentrating juices so why didn't I think of that?!) I thought I knew all about ice cream, having included many recipes in several of my books. In recent years I've added the technique of using glucose syrup for smoother texture, as does Dana. But reading this book is an exciting new frontier to explore and I'm so glad I was introduced to it before finishing my own book on the subject. I also am pleased to know of a colleague who is so delightfully talented, devoted to the success of the home baker as well as the professional, and feel like I've found a new and treasured kindred spirit and friend. Hello, My Name Is Ice Cream: The Art and Science of the Scoop
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