I have bought the ice cream maker and I am ready to churn. There are fine recipes in many books for ice cream but isn’t there something romantic, and very chic, about real Italian ice cream? One is wafted to a picturesque piazza where you’ll be served a stylish confection, the memory of which will last a lifetime. Well, OK, you can’t replicate the ambiance of an Italian city (sounds of scooters, horns, screeching of brakes, screams of tourists) but you can get a close approximation to an authentic Italian frozen dessert.
Carla Bardi is the author of this sumptuous tome. She has numerous other cookbooks to her credit including Flavours of Rome. She was raised in Tuscany where she learnt to cook surrounded by a big extended family. Those lessons have served her well because she now runs a restaurant on the shores of Lake Bolsena.
Italian Ice Cream is a large-format volume with almost edible photographs by Lorenzo Pasquinelli. The impression given is of an adult ice cream restaurant rather than a dolly-mixture ice cream parlour. These are sophisticated desserts although mostly simple to prepare. Presentation is everything and there are classy serving suggestions that will add so much to the impact.
Prime candidates for dinner parties
Carla offers four styles of dessert starting with Gelato, classic Italian ice cream, then Sorbetto, tangy sorbets, Granita, which has a grainy texture as the name suggests, and Semifreddo, which is softer and less cold than ice cream and usually custard-based. The advantage with all of these is that they are obviously made in advance and are therefore prime candidates for dinner parties and smart entertaining.
The most classic but the simplest of Gelato is the Rich Egg-Cream Gelato. Few ingredients but the result is a creamy convection that is heavenly. This is ideal for the end of an elaborate meal when an unfussy but delicious dessert is in order. I’d serve this with perhaps some sweet biscuits and a shot of espresso.
If you’re looking for an alcoholic but refreshing ice then After Dinner Sorbet will hit the spot. This has both whisky and white port so be mindful of drivers and those doing the washing up. It looks innocent enough, like a damp snowball, but it packs a punch. This isn’t one for the kids.
Double Chocolate Gelato Cake is the pièce de resistance (or whatever that is in Italian). This is a magnificent presentation of Chocolate Sponge (recipe in this book), Chocolate Gelato and that aforementioned Egg-Cream Gelato. It’s stunning but, like all the recipes, easy to prepare.
Italian Ice Cream contains more than 110 recipes for truly elegant frozen desserts. You’ll not be confronted by lengthy lists of ingredients and these ices are not over-taxing to make. The success depends on a combination of flavour and texture. The book is as delightful as the desserts and great value for money.
Italian Ice Cream
Author: Carla Bardi
Published by: Apple Press
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018