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A one-stop ice cream guide delivered with great zeal and enthusiasm
on 31 August 2013
Ben Vear's second book, Ice Cream & Other Frozen Delights, is a gelato compendium - containing everything you need to know about the mysterious ice that has been universally loved since its first incarnation as frozen milk, flavoured with herbs and spices in ancient China, to the modern Mr Whippy.
Ben is a fourth generation scion of family run Winstones Ice Cream, that began in the 1920's when his Great-Grandfather offered refreshments to passing walkers. The business has grown organically to produce more than 1,000,000 litres of ice cream each year. Ben is deeply passionate about the business: keenly preserving the Winstones spirit for sourcing the finest ingredients ethically and locally, whilst bringing his own flavours and scientific approach to the mix.
Ice cream making is somewhat of an alchemy - a scientifically complex balance of fats, solids and liquids - which in my experience essentially means it is very easy to screw up! Ben navigates you past the potential minefields with clear and easy-to-follow instructions. The book starts with a basic introduction followed by a chapter on each category of flavouring with striking pictures of each scoop.
The Introduction traces the history of ice cream from its royal roots, as the preserve of the rich and noble, to the modern day Mr Whippy, pumped full of air and chemicals. This is followed by an overview of the necessary equipment and ingredients, with detailed instructions for the basic technique accompanied by step-by-step pictures.
The flavours start with an exhaustive overview of national favourite Vanilla - discovery, extraction and useful tips for understanding extract versus essence followed by 17 variations. Ben starts with the most traditional, an adaptation of his Great-Grandfather's recipe, and graduates to the more experimental: Candied Bacon and Maple Syrup and the logic defying Baked Alaska. The highlight for me is the Moondust Frozen Yoghurt: vanilla, rum and toasted almonds topped with a sprinkling of sliver glitter - magical!
Sugar, Caramel and Toffee is the most decadent chapter: a detailed explanation of caramelisation, instructions for salted caramel and toffee is followed by indulgent Banoffee Pie and Salted Caramel ice cream (which is dangerously quick to make - ready in just a couple of hours).
The chemistry of our insatiable love for Chocolate is explained alongside instructions for tempering and the perfect chocolate sauce. This chapter goes well beyond a humble choc-ice with imaginative infusions of rosemary and truffle oil.
Ben goes local to the extreme, encouraging you to forage in hedgerows, for the Berries chapter. Here you can make the most of Britain's plump fruits with Gooseberry Fool and Balsamic, Blackberry and Strawberry ice cream.
Citrus guides you through the potentially disastrous addition of citric acid to milk and cream. The show stopping Lemon and Squid Ink looks more like a work of art than humble scoop, whilst the Blood Orange Sorbet is the ultimate refresher.
From here the book turns towards a more mature pallet. Herbs and Spices covers a wide array, from their most popular Mint Chocolate Chip to Wasabi - an unexpected success that is recommended with smoked salmon or game.
Botanical is the most experimental collection that sounds positively Heston-like, try Earl Grey Tea and the vibrant Matcha Green Tea (just don't use a standard green tea bag...it must be matcha or you will have a murky disappointment!).
Alcohol is another perilous ingredient, but worth the effort for Guinness ice cream and Absinthe ice lollies.
Don't skip the Accompaniments, which will showcase your homemade wonders in waffles, meringue nests and sugar-spun baskets. The final recipe pays homage to Mr Whippy, this 21-st century version involves freezing the mix in icecubes and blending to achieve the iconic whippy shape and texture without the chemicals.
You cannot help but be inspired by Ben's infectious love for ice cream