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A Passion for Ice Cream: 95 Recipes For Fabulous Desserts
By Emily Luchetti
Chronicle Books, 2006
ISBN 0811846024
Review By William I. Lengeman III

There may be no definitive answer to the question of how many creative uses you can devise for ice cream, but Emily Luchetti has dreamed up nearly 100 in this, her fourth cookbook devoted to desserts.

Early on in the book Luchetti asks us to "imagine the dreariness of a world without ice cream" (gasp) and points out that Americans consume the frozen delight to the tune of 46 pints per person per year.

In her introductory chapter, the author, who is a cheerleader for the homemade stuff, elaborates on the difference between ice cream and its cousins, including sorbet, sherbet, granita, frozen yogurt and so on.

Getting Started takes a closer look at optimum ingredients (bittersweet chocolate, unsalted butter, whole milk, pure cane sugar) and presents a capsule guide to ice cream machines and other equipment. Also included here are tips on making, storing and serving frozen desserts, all of which should be especially helpful for the novice ice creamer.

In Simply Presented, the first chapter of recipes, Luchetti offers up 14 simple concoctions - though "simple" is rather a subjective term. Among these are Arnold Palmer Ice With Blueberries and Raspberries; Black Cow Sundaes (think root beer float with the root beer made into granita) and Iced Bellinis, a peach-based incarnation of the Cipriani Bellini cocktail.

Finger foods are up next in With Your Fingers, which presents such offbeat frosty delights as Chocolate Soy Milk Frozen Pops; Gingersnap Lemon Ice Cream Sandwiches and Mini Meringue Baskets Filled With Pomegranate Sorbet. The next chapter includes 13 frozen desserts that are intended to be consumed Through A Straw. Among these are the quirky Batido De Trigo (Puffed Wheat Shakes); the eye-catching and very colorful Purple And Yellow Cows, which are made with pineapple juice and cassis-berry sherbet and Watermelon Bubble Tea, which doesn't actually contain any tea.

In A Mold presents such treats as a Red, White And Blue Ice Cream Cake that uses red berry sorbet, vanilla ice cream and blueberry sauce. Frozen Marjolaine is an intriguing concoction that alternates almond meringue layers with Mexican ice cream. Luchetti also puts her distinctive spin on that old campfire favorite with the S'mores Ice Cream Cake With Cappuccino-Chocolate Ice Cream.

On A Plate winds up the recipes section with 17 favorites, including Chocolate Banana Baked Alaskas. If that's not enough chocolate for you, you might want to go with the Cho Cho Cho. Sure to put your chocolate glands in overdrive, this one consists of a chocolate brownie, white chocolate ice cream and a velvety chocolate sauce. Among the other treats that fall on the plate is a nice Mango Soup With Coconut Sherbet And Strawberry Sorbet.

Luchetti wraps it all up with a section of Adornments, including an array of sauces. Also, a list of 24 sources for ingredients and equipment and a biography.

An especially nifty touch are the seven brief profiles of "artisinal" ice cream shops that the author has scattered throughout the book. Among them, Toscanini's in Cambridge, Tropical Dream in Hawaii, and shops in Rhode Island, Maine, San Francisco, Berkeley, and Madison.

William I. Lengeman III is a food writer, book reviewer and publisher of Tea Guy Speaks.

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