David Lebovitz. In addition to being a Chez Panisse-pedigreed, Paris-living chocolate and dessert expert, David L. is also the author of The Perfect Scoop. The Perfect Scoop, like Bread Alone, was a seminal cookbook for me, opening a new world of expertise beyond just following recipes. Most of David L.'s other books are out of print, but his blog provides spot-on recipes and hilarious commentary regularly, and when I saw that he was putting out a new book that would draw from his previous works, I had to buy Ready For Dessert. Who am I kidding, I pre-ordered it. It's a beautiful book, and I look forward to cooking from it, but instead of immediately jumping in to the cheesecakes, fruit tarts, or cookies, I found myself drawn directly to the ice creams, which ultimately drew me back to The Perfect Scoop.
In an attempt to take the brown flavor of caramel to the next level, I used rough brown large crystal sugar from the local Jamaican bodega. This added a molasses note, but minimized the burnt flavor of the caramel, because I couldn't see when the sugar had browned, and took it off a little early. I was also a little flummoxed by the instruction to add ALL the milk and cream to the saucepan, as opposed to Lebovitz's usual practice of retaining half the liquid in the chilling container, which helps the mixture chill faster, and, more importantly, allows it to thicken more dramatically, giving better clues as to when it's done. My custard, although it reached the proper temperature, seemed very thin. Instead of vanilla extract, I added almond extract, which gave another shade to the light caramel flavor. I churned half the batch last night, when it was really still too warm, and will churn the rest tonight and check out the difference in quality. (Turns out it was fairly similar--I had used a small enough batch initially that it had frozen despite the short cooling time).
Maybe it's the almond extract, but by the time I came home to churn the second batch, Matt was in love with this flavor like no other before. He usually likes to put a few add-ons on a non-chocolate ice cream, but he told me when I was contemplating shaving in some chocolate to the second batch that he had actually put some chocolate on a bowl of this ice cream, and then changed his mind and taken it off, as it was perfect in pure form. Some things should not be messed with.