After our kids bought us an ice cream maker for Christmas we thought we would expand on the basic recipe book that came with the machine and invest in a couple of specialist books. We ordered this book along with Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz. Perfect scoop gives accurate metric measurements and final quantities of the end product. A great book with interesting and varied recipes. Ciao Bella gives measurements in cup sizes, American or UK cups? 200ml or 250ml? Spoon sizes? what is a Quart? The last thing I saw in Quarts was bottles of Whitbread Pale Ale that my Dad used to drink over 40 years ago. If these guys want to sell books in the UK market they could at least take the time and trouble to convert the measurements to the target market. In addition the recipes are all made from the same few base recipes and I can see them being very samey. This book will be returned, definitely not for me!
After the DH bought me an ice-cream maker, I started hunting for a good gelato book. A friend loaned me her Ben & Jerry's book, but I'm not a big fan of most American style ice-creams (too creamy!), and besides I prefer gelati, so that one was out.
Here's what you want to know: 1. Measurements are made in cups and teaspoons and Farenheit - because it's an American book. But come on, it just takes 20 seconds to google metric equivalents online...takes much longer to rant about it imo. I have found that using the recipes I'd get about 1.2-1.3L of gelato (I think the book says each batch makes a quart, which is just under 1L, but I haven't found that to be the case), which is a little more than my 1L ice-cream machine can handle, so I've had to adjust the recipe a little - but it works. Plus, my ice-cream machine comes with a multi-measurement cup, so really this becomes a non-issue. Just be aware of how much ice-cream your machine can churn at a go - too much of the mix and it might overwhelm your ice-cream machine. It won't hurt the flavour though, just makes it a bit more slushy/milkshake-like in consistency...
2. Most of the recipes are built on 2 basic ones - True. I don't see this as a problem. The more often you make them, the easier it becomes to tell when the mix is ready! Plus, it opens up a lot of possibilities for making your own flavours, most of which goes in at a later stage. They do tell you how to prep the nuts and there are some other recipes - 1 melon soup, 1 sorbetto cake and 1 gelato cake which comes with a génoise cake recipe. Some of the ingredients are very American, I admit - créme fraiche, rosemary and oil and banana cajeta cashew are probably flavours I will never try. But the rose petal and green tea sound promising...
4. If you can get past the measurements etc, it's suitable for a beginner (assuming you do have an ice-cream machine). I'd never made ice-cream before this, and I found the instructions fairly easy to follow. There are lots of very nice pictures too, if you like that sort of thing. The only thing I found mildly annoying is that you can't get the ice-cream done straightaway! So a bit of patience is needed, noobs. Cooking time takes about 20 mins tops, but then chilling is at least 2-4 hours, another hour on the machine, and then they recommend freezing for another 2-4 hours... if you can wait that long. ;-)
5. The recipes are Very Good. There is helpful index at the end, and the flavours are divided into Classic, American, Uniquely Ciao Bella (including a handful of alcoholic flavours) and Sorbetto. So far I have only tried a handful of flavours - basic vanilla, basic chocolate, maple walnut, hazelnut, and strawberry. The strawberry gelato was actually a lot like eating strawberries with cream in summer... DH had thirds the evening we tried it. We haven't gotten far enough to try the sorbetos yet, but it's all very promising! Note: I reduce the amount of sugar in recipes by half at least routinely, and it still tastes great.
If you already have a book on gelato, this book will probably not give you anything new, apart from some of the very American flavours, but that shouldn't come as a surprise since the basic ingredients and cooking methods will be very similar. If you want a book that gives you exact metric measurements, then this book is not for you either.
But if you don't mind tinkering a bit with recipes and measurements, and want a good book on gelati, you should look no further.
I have two other ice cream books, the Ben & Jerry's book (sitting there collecting dust) and The Ultimate Ice Cream Book (was my favorite till I got this), but then I went and bought this marvelous book! I would have given it a six star rating if I could!
First of all, as a book, I love the way the book is put together, printed, and the images used. For me a good cookery book has to be printed on glossy paper, hardcover, and with plenty of eye pleasing pictures! This book scores big on all these fronts!! I love the color combinations used, they scream fun at me!
Secondly, the contents: I love the brief history introduction regarding ice creams, gelatos, and sorbets at the very beginning of the book! The recipes in this book are exactly what I look for in frozen desserts! The one thing that I simply adore about this book is that it rarely uses extracts and essences, it teaches you how to use the real deal, like hazelnuts, pistachios and the like!!! Great for making homemade ice creams for the entire family to enjoy! The recipes always come rich and smooth!! Had some friends over and made them some chocolate gelato and the almost ate the whole batch! Made milk chocolate and hazelnut gelato with a Nutela swirl for the family and that was gone in a couple of days! The recipes are very easy to follow, especially if you have experience with preparing custards, and the ingredients are fairly easy to find in most supermarkets and there is no need to go to specialty shops.
The book has an abundance of recipes and will give you a better understanding of how to add flavors, like nuts and fruits so that you can experiment and come up with your own versions or even creations, like my milk chocolate gelato with nutela swirl!
This has officially become my favorite gelato / ice cream book in the world!