Pop Ed Ice Cream: Part 1

I never used to think I could make ice cream. It seemed complicated and, honestly, uninteresting.

But then, during the summer of 2010, 3 things happened:

1. I got David Lebovitz‘s book Ready for Dessert for my birthday.
2. My friend Ethan Frisch started a really cool business called Guerrilla Ice Cream, where he made and sold ridiculously delicious (and interesting!) ice cream and donated 100% of the profits to important organizations like the Street Vendors Project.
3. My neighbors moved to Portland and I inherited their ice cream maker (so yes, this ice cream maker is very local!).

So, armed with my hand-me-down ice cream maker and the good advice of Ethan Frisch and David Lebovitz, in the summer of 2010, I started making ice cream. And what I discovered is that making ice cream is awesome.

Ingredients for bourbon chocolate gelato

See, here’s the thing: I’ve always had a sweet tooth, so baking has been a natural path for me. But as anyone who bakes will tell you, the difference between a hard, dry cake and a moist, fluffy one is precision and chemistry…so, if you don’t know a lot of baking science, it can be tough to improvise and add your own spin. On the other hand, I love cooking for the experimentation and freedom it offers – but it’s never satisfied my obsession with dessert.

Which is why, when I discovered ice cream making, I fell in love. Here’s the thing: there are some basic ratios and structures you need to follow when you make ice cream, but if you get them down, you can experiment to your heart’s content! Ice cream making: it’s a sugar fiend’s playground.

When Ora and I started The Big Ceci, I knew right away that I wanted to write an ice cream tutorial, and here’s why: anyone can make ice cream from a recipe. But if you understand how each ingredient functions in the ice cream, and how to manipulate those ingredients – how to make ice cream sweeter or less sweet, more dense or more airy, more rich or more light – then you don’t need a recipe. You can invent your own flavors, play with your own combinations, and improvise. In short, once you understand the basics, you can make (and make damn well) any ice cream you can dream up – not just any ice cream you can find a recipe for on the internet. And I think that’s pretty cool.

So now you have the backstory. Come back for Part 2 next week, where I’ll talk about the fundamental ice cream recipe and how to make it your own. And in the meantime, start brainstorming for the crazy fantasy flavor you’re gonna be making! I’m thinking about balsamic black pepper* myself…

* Damn. Just googled it and found out that someone already did that. Guess I’ll be doing some brainstorming, too!