Pros: Delicious desserts; inventive
Cons: Somewhat complex; a few oddities
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Ahh ice cream. I’m addicted; I really am. Time and time again the existence of ice cream has thwarted my attempts to eat more healthily, but I don’t begrudge its hold over me–after all, it rewards my addiction with smooth, creamy, delicious sweetness. Perhaps that’s why I keep coming back to review new ice cream cookbooks, ice cream makers, and so on.
The latest in my collection is Emily Luchetti’s “A Passion for Ice Cream: 95 recipes for fabulous desserts.” It’s a larger format than most of the Chronicle cookbooks I own, in hardcover with more pages and recipes, but the presentation is every bit as lovely. The pages are high-quality and semi-glossy, which makes them stand up well to kitchen use. The layout is clean and clear, making it easy to locate ingredients, direction steps, and notes at a glance. The photos, as always, are lovely (many, although not all, of the recipes include photos), highlighting the natural beauty of the food in question rather than gussying it up unnecessarily.
“A Passion for Ice Cream” is not simply a book of recipes for ice cream itself, although it might be easy to mistake it for that from the title alone. Instead it’s book of ice cream desserts (and other frozen desserts). For instance, you’ll find chocolate cupcakes stuffed with pistachio ice cream, caramelized apple and butter pecan ice cream sundaes, chocolate-covered-pretzel ice cream ball fondue, chocolate-coated cocoa nib florentines and orange ice-cream sandwiches, papaya milk shakes, black mission fig and raspberry parfaits, chocolate banana baked Alaskas, mango soup with coconut sherbet and strawberry sorbet, and warm blueberry filo stacks with Grand Marnier ice cream. As you can see, these aren’t simple “mix, put it in the ice cream maker, and forget it” recipes. This is not inherently a negative–sometimes it’s a ton of fun to make such elaborate and beautiful desserts–but you should know what you’re getting yourself into before you decide to buy this book.
When it comes to actual performance, the recipes exhibited the quality of testing I’m accustomed to from Chronicle Books. I never found a confusing set of directions or obvious error. Two of the recipes from this book found immediate places in our stable of favorites–the brown sugar ice cream in its chocolate cake roulade (with warm coffee caramel sauce!) is a bit messy, but so incredibly delicious that no one will care. The white chocolate ice cream (destined to float in espresso according to the recipe, but I enjoy it plain, or in coffee or hot chocolate…) is one of the best white chocolate ice creams I’ve ever had. The only sour note was a Cafe Viennese frozen yogurt shake; it was so tart we had to add sweetened cocoa powder in noticeable quantities to make it enjoyable. And while it’s good enough that we finished it, I don’t think we’d make it again. However, when you’re playing around with a cookbook that strives to push the boundaries of previously-explored flavors, there’s bound to be a few combinations that your taste buds don’t agree with, so to me this is a forgivable (and minor) problem.
Ultimately, while you’ll want to make sure you’re up to the kind of in-depth recipes in this book before buying it, it’s a high-quality cookbook that produces delicious results. I look forward to making yet more recipes out of it!