Sometimes you just get lucky.
I used to work for the government, in one of those agencies with three letter names. On dull, slow days, my colleagues and I would kill time by thinking up new versions of acronyms. We found hilariously new uses for various three and four letter Anglo Saxon words. I can’t publish them here, but the experience converted me to dreaming up new acronyms wherever I go.
In the culinary world we don’t have enough good acronyms, but there is one I live by: DDDD or D4. Pronounced “D-Four”, D4 stands for something vital: Drop Dead Delicious Dessert. Just what makes a D4? It’s very precise. Someone takes one bite, puts down their fork or spoon, and with watering eyes asks, “What is this?”
Suzen and I split the labor. She cooks and I search for recipes. I take a weekly tour of our local bookstores, looking for the best new books and recipes. I pour over books with titles that include “Good” and “Better” and “Best” and even “Bible.” Recently I found The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz, a collection of recipes for ice creams, sorbets, granitas, and sweet accompaniments. “Perfect” is a very strong word, so my hopes were very high.
I started leafing through the book, recipe by recipe, anxious to find that rare, elusive D4. I never finished getting through the book. I stopped at page 51, bought the book, went to the store, bought the ingredients, went home, did mise en place, and waited. Suzen came into the kitchen and asked, “What’s this?” I pointed to page 51. She went to work. Three hours later, both of us had watering eyes.
The Malted Milk Ice Cream on that page is simply the finest ice cream experience you will ever have in your life. Suzen and I have toured the summer New England ice creams stands, tasted the flavor of Berthillon of Paris, … Nothing can match page 51. Even if you think you don’t like malted, you will. We make this icy dream with regular malt balls. But you go the extra step and use gourmet malt balls to, God forgive me for saying this, kick it up a notch. The possibilities are endless.
Suzen’s love for malted comes from a childhood in Brooklyn. I grew up in Portland in the 50s and 60s when there were many mom-and-pop ice cream stands with a handful of flavors, but each handmade. I loved milk chocolate. On page 31, there is the truly perfect recipe for Milk Chocolate Ice Cream. Make it with the milk chocolate from Trader Joe’s and you will have flashbacks to childhood.
By some error, a container of Malted Milk was lost in our freezer for six weeks. We opened it, sad at the waste and worrying how bad it would taste. Amazingly, the aging in the freezer had softened and blended the flavors. The texture was even richer. It was better. More watery eyes.
It’s November and we are putting away the November 2008 vintage. They should be ready for opening by Christmas, but we are considering the option of going deeper into January 2009. It will all depend on our weekly tastings as we carefully rotate each container in the freezer.
Yes, you can become very serious about ice cream. And, if you were to have one and only one cookbook for this confection, then you must have The Perfect Scoop.