Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Inspiring palettes from The Icecreamists (book review)

"Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it is not illegal" (Voltaire) This quote introduces you to a new book The Icecreamists written by an ice cream fanatic Matt O'Connor.

The first time I heard about the Icecreamists was during the brouhaha of the BabyGaga-Gate. I remember reading about Lady Gaga taking a virtuous stand against the ice cream made from the breast milk, just because it was called Baby Gaga. Not sure since when Lady Gaga has been able to own the word Gaga. We used to say "Gaga" almost about anyone as kids if we wanted to claim someone is a bit bonkers.

The book is utterly fabulous. The photos are exceptionally tantalising and inspiring. The photos of each scoop are very artistic.
Think of the Dutch Golden Art paintings: lush still life with the abundant displays of food. Or think of the masterpieces by Rembrandt, his tactile manipulation of the paint, the dark earth tones and golden highlights.

Bravo to the photographer Anders Schonnemann.

Props styling by Rachel Jukes deserves a separate mention, she did a brilliant job by matching each ice cream to the vessel it appears in.

The book is a feast for eyes. And the recipes make you want to grab that ice cream machine that has been hidden in the back of the kitchen shelves for ages, unused and unloved. Not anymore.

What else deserves mentioning? Graphic design and the brilliant use of the visual language.
Very clever titles that are a wordplay or puns like The Vanilla Monologues, Taking the Pistacchio, Doughnut Stop Believin', Lemony of the State, Lenin and Lime etc etc

The first recipe from the book that I decided to try was the traditional Italian Crema Ice cream (I reproduce the recipe with the kind permisssion of Octopus Books).

All the photos below are mine, I tried to emulate the book style by finding an interesting prop and served my ice cream from a ceramic jar from Perugia (old container for Baci chocs)

Admire, drool and reach for the ice cream machine, here is a recipe:

The Custardy Suite

250ml full-fat milk
125ml double cream
4 egg yolks
88g caster sugar
pinch of sea salt

1. Pour the milk and cream into a large saucepan and heat gently, stirring occasionally, until the mixture begins to steam but not boil.
2. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs yolks in a heatproof bowl until smooth. Add the sugar and salt and whisk until pale and slightly fluffy. Gradually and slowly, pour the hot milk into the egg mixture whilst whisking continuosly to prevent the eggs scrambling. Return the mixture to the saucepan and place over a low heat, stirring frequently until the custard thinly coats the back of the wooden spoon. Do not allow to boil.
3. Pour back into the bowl and set aside for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until cooled to room temperature. For more rapid chilling, half-fill a sink with cold water and ice and place the bowl of mixture in it for 20 minutes. Never put the hot mixture in the fridge.
4. Once cooled, cover the mixture and refrigerate, ideally overnight, but at least for 6 hours, until thoroughly chilled (at least 4C). Pour the chilled mixture into an ice cream machine and churn according to the manufacturer's instructions.
5. When the churning is completed, use a spoon or spatula to scrape the ice ceram into freezer-proof container with the lid. Freeze until it reaches the correct scooping texture (at least 2 hours).

The ice cream was very delicate in taste, lovely with the berries.
Alas, my photos don't do any justice to it, but we had guests for dinner and I was running like a headless chicken from the kitchen to the dining room and back, and hardly had any time to do any proper photos. The actual colour of the ice cream was much more yellow.

All I want to say that the recipe worked beautifully.

The book is very well written. As the author himself says, it is part ice cream Bible, part confessional.
It would make a great gift for anyone who loves ice cream.


  1. My mum went through an icecream making phase when we were kids and were treated to the most divine ice creams I've ever tasted. I will be trying the custard ice cream recipe very soon, possibly rippling it with some apple conserve and a dash of cinnamon and some crushed digestives. Apple Pie and custard ice cream :-)

  2. Its a great book I am working at octopus at the moment and I have a copy sat tempting me on my desk.

  3. I love homemade icecream, it is so different to anything you can buy. The styling looks great, nothing like looking at the pictures even if you never make the recipe.

  4. LOL I think I may have to permanently adopt the expression "Taking the Pistacchio" !!

  5. LOL I think I may have to permnently adopt the expression "Taking the Pistacchio" !!

  6. Wow! I so want that book and I so want an ice-cream maker to go with it! :O)

  7. Sounds like a great book from your review! Thank you x