Like most of you, my relationship with ice cream started so young, there isn’t a time I can remember without ice cream. As I grew up, my favorite flavor changed over and over—and at some point I became militant about my ice cream not touching my cake—but cold, creamy, lickable scoops of ice cream were always there. When I was an adult and went to pastry school, and I learned how to make
ice cream, it seemed nothing short of a magic trick.
In the sixteen years since, my career has taken me into fancy restaurants, where I was afforded great room for creativity, advancing both my skills and my catalog of outlandish flavors. (Burnt artichoke ice cream, anyone?) I carried stunning composed desserts into the dining rooms of these restaurants and set them before guests, thrilled to share these unexpected flavors and textures with them. But, at some point, it felt disjointed, pouring my soul into desserts that I could only share with a handful of fortunate folks, in places where often even I couldn’t afford to eat.
It was then that ice cream really
became my favorite thing to make. Ice cream is accessible to everyone, everywhere. Any person I meet, of any age, can tell me what their favorite flavor is, and it almost always brings a smile to their face. Like me, hardly anyone can remember their first bite of ice cream. It’s just always been there, sitting next to our birthday cakes, scooped into cones handed to us by our parents, presented at school parties, and served on a weeknight for no reason other than a treat. Here was a dessert I could pour myself into, and share with everyone, because they were already sharing it with each other.
When I moved from my hometown of Seattle to work in Chicago, I started packing pints of my ice cream for sale in a butcher shop called Publican Quality Meats, labeled with brightly colored “Hello My Name Is” stickers. It was then that I had a chance to reconnect with the kinds of ice creams people want to eat as a scoop. I mean, ice cream flavored with masa—the dough you make tortillas from—was delicious as a part of my butterscotch, corn, and cape gooseberry dessert, but you probably wouldn’t sit with a big ol’ cone of it. So, I jumped back into the world of beloved flavors like salted caramel, and I dove deeper and deeper into the world of add-ins, and started composing scoops of ice creams as I would a dessert—with sauces, chunks, and chewy bits strewn throughout. (You’ll find some of these pint-worthy combinations in the “Composed Scoops” chapter.)
When I grew past the “how’s” and started asking about the “why’s” of ice cream making, I fell into a serious rabbit hole of scientific knowledge that’s taken me ten years to hoist myself out of. I wanted to learn why the amount of butterfat in a recipe matters, what various sugars do to the texture, how the speed of churning ice cream makes a difference. I wanted to understand these and a thousand other things so I could know how to make my ice creams smoother or chewier or richer or brighter or more flavorful. I collected as much information as I could from the internet and textbooks, and I had a lot of help from a chef I met when I cooked at The Fat Duck, Chris Young, who co-authored the massive bible of modern cooking, Modernist Cuisine
. And then I literally went to Ice Cream College, a.k.a. the Penn State Ice Cream Short Course.
By now, I’ve filled my head with ice cream, as an art and as a science, and I finally feel I can teach what I’ve learned along the way and help guide others in their ice cream journeys. It goes back to why I started to pack pints in the first place—to share the joy of ice cream with everyone. I hope this book inspires ice cream lovers not only to re-create the recipes I’ve included here but also to take the knowledge I’m sharing and create whatever your heart—or inner kid—desires
Copyright © 2017 by Dana Cree. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.