David Lebovitz’s blog is distinguished for the quality of the writing and the stories he tells (not to mention the romantic setting).  His book about ice creams and sorbets, The Perfect Scoop, is a straightforward cookbook, unadorned by story but with his personality is clear in the writing and extensive, helpful headnotes (which are the bane of any cookbook author’s life).  Photography is excellent without calling attention to itself, and the recipes (including those for things like spiced pecans and numerous sauces) are clear and complete.  I made his basic chocolate and also his malted milk ice cream (recipe below).  I’ve always had a problem with texture—my ice cream has always been a little icy and my wife, Donna, wrinkles her nose and says what she does about home made pasta (“OK, Michael, but is it really worth it?”).  Probably because of the high fat content, David’s ice cream impressed even my wife.  He’s got a perfect basic custard technique (6 yolks : 3 cups milk/cream).  I haven’t tried any of the non-custard recipes; a commenter on the previous post said he was disappointed in the flavor of the roasted banana ice cream.  It uses only milk, so it’s pretty low fat.  Not normally the way I like to go (which is high fat, and throw in some candy garnish!).  I’d try the plum ice cream; that uses cream but no yolks, and the avocado—I’m curious about about the flavor and how the fat-rich avocado works as ice cream.
    All in all, I’d be surprised to learn that there’s a better ice cream book that’s out there.  Will I do the basil ice cream?  Not likely. But the green tea?  Maybe.  The bourbon pecan?  That’s in the batters box, right after the malted milk ice cream is gone. Which should be this afternoon.
    I’m not much of a sweets person, but I can’t keep my hands off a vanilla malt, a concoction that’s been sadly ignored in America over the past few decades.  That he thought to do a malted ice cream makes me love this book (recipe below).  That it tastes so good is a delight.  David’s malted milk ice cream is … what? … I feel like a kid again as I eat it.

Malted Milk Ice Cream
About 1 1/2 quarts (1 1/2 liters)
I froze lots and lots and lots of ice cream when writing this book. It was a treat having freshly-made ice cream every day, but space in my freezer soon became an issue and after more than one frozen ‘brick’ of ice cream slipped out, which I always seemed to just narrowly avoid crashing down on my foot, I eventually realized that it was impossible (and a little dangerous) to coexist with too many flavors all at once. Consequently, I passed off lots of ice cream to friends, neighbors, local shopkeepers, and occasionally, a startled delivery man. All were more than happy to take a quart off my hands. But this Malted Milk Ice Cream was the one that I refused to part with, and I guarded it secretively, saving it all for myself.
The recipe calls for malt powder which is usually found in the ice cream aisle of your supermarket. But sometimes it’s stocked alongside chocolate drink mixes like Ovaltine, which isn’t the same thing and shouldn’t be used here. Most common brands of malt powder are Carnation and Horlicks. (See Resources (page 000) for online sources.)
1 cup (250 ml) half-and-half
3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
2 cups (500 ml) heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup (90 g) malt powder
6 large egg yolks
2 cups (350 g) malted milk balls, coarsely chopped
Warm the half-and-half with the sugar in a medium saucepan. In a large bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, vanilla, and malt powder. Set a mesh strainer on top.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a wooden or heatproof plastic spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and whisk it into the malted milk mixture. Stir until cool over an ice bath.
Chill mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. As you remove the ice cream from the machine, fold in the chopped malted milk balls.


38 Wonderful responses to “David Lebovitz’s Perfect Scoop”

  • sorcha

    We got an ice cream maker last year and I think we need this book to go with it. Thank you.

  • Connor

    I’m anxious to try the malted milk ice cream given your feedback, especially considering the version I’ve made uses Ovaltine (which this recipe says NOT to use) and is quite good. The Ovaltine version is from the Gramercy Tavern desserts cookbook, and many of the ice cream recipes in it call for a whopping 12 egg yolks (for 1 to 1.5 quarts)! It’ll be interesting to see how cutting down to 6 egg yolks (per Perfect Scoop’s recipes) will affect flavor/texture, if at all…

    Man, that bourbon pecan version does sound good…

  • Tags

    Did you use unpasteurized cream? That’s what I’m eager to get my hands on. My dream is to drive down to Polyface Farms with an ice cream maker, some sugar, vanilla extract, chocolate & Dutch process cocoa powder.

  • Jennie/Tikka

    Just got an ice cream maker msyelf last summer. So far the big hit around my house is cinnamon/vanilla/cardamom – its really good over fresh peach pie (that’s still warm out of the oven)!

  • Maya

    Tags, that sounds great. I worked in England as a teen and we had unpasturized milk delievered to our door every day. It tastes so different from the regular kind.

    Peppermint is my favorite flavor, by the way.

  • eriq

    I’ve never gotten a batch of ice cream at home to turn out not icy, so switched to making sorbet instead.

    Everything I’ve tried from Harold McGee’s The Curious Cook chapter on fruit ices has turned out great. A satsuma tangerine fruit ice is really something to behold. Medium sweet water ices seem to be the best for general sorbet making.

    Malted milk ice cream sounds good enough to tempt me, though!

  • Nick

    Re: ‘icy’ ice cream. In his series (In Search of Perfection), Heston Blumenthal get’s around this problem by using dry ice. He claims the normal freezing process is too slow in a domestic ice cream machine. Check out this article by Sara Dickerman in Chow:
    I haven’t done it but it could be fun! Get my 7yo daughter involved in some crazy cooking.

  • Chris Hennes

    Michael, you are a terrible influence in my life. First, Charcuterie, now, ice cream. Could I add any more fat to my diet :). Holy cow your bacon recipe is amazing, by the way. Finished smoking it yesterday. Wow.

  • Claudia

    I have The Perfect Scoop, as well as numerous other ice cream books, but I frequently just clip/print out recipes that just look good. One I designed (and will be test-running soon):

    Blackberry Ice Cream with White Chocolate and Blackberry Pureé Ribbons and Crunched Macadamia

    For the ice cream:

    2 cups heavy cream
    1 cup whole milk
    1cup granulated sugar
    7 large egg yolks
    8 ounces white chocolate, melted
    1 cup macadamia nuts, toasted and crushed

    For the puree:

    6 cups fresh blackberries
    ½ cup granulated sugar
    ½ cup cold water

    1. In a large sauce pan, combine the blackberries, sugar and water, stirring occasionally, and simmer, uncovered – about 5 minutes. Pureé mixture in batches in a food processor and let cool.

    2. Bring cream and milk to a simmer in a sauce pan, over medium heat.

    3. In a bowl, whisk together sugar and yolks until pale and thickened, then slowly whisk the warm cream mixture into the custard, a bit at a time.

    4. Return mixture to the saucepan over medium-high heat, and stir continuously, until mixture is slightly thickened, and coats the back of the spoon.

    5. Strain mixture into a bowl and place into an ice bath, stirring until cold.

    6. Remove from the ice bath, whisk in all but 1-1½ cups of the blackberry pureé, until the ice cream is a startling shade of lavender, and then pour into an ice cream machine and mix, according to manufacture’s directions.

    7. Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler.

    8. With the machine still churning, drizzle the melted chocolate into the ice cream. Do not over-mix – the chocolate should appear just as swirls or ribbons.

    9. Repeat the same procedure with the remaining blackberry pureé, using just enough to create ribbons of pureé throughout the ice cream mixture.

    10. Sprinkle the toasted, crushed hazelnuts into the mixture and stir, until just incorporated. Cover mixture and place it in the freezer until firm.

    What’s driving me nuts, though, is finding a good gelato recipe. Sure, the recipes are there, but they always end with “churn/freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions”, and my ice cream maker’s instructions are only for ice cream – I think I need to freeze/churn LESS for gelato, to put less air in the mix, but I still am not sure what that churn/freeze time is. Any gelato aficionados out there, please jump in . . .

  • Heidi

    This past weekend I froze: D. Lebovitzs’ roasted banana ice cream, a tweaked vanilla bean gelato sourced from a Chowhounder, a caramel cider ice cream from Kate Zuckerman’s The Sweet Life (been baking my way through this one with nary a clunker in the bunch), and an orange sorbet recipe from an online site I test recipes for. The only disappointment was the roasted banana – low in both flavor and texture. The caramel cider was sublime – made with cider from a friend’s organic farm – tasted just like a satiny, cold tarte tatin. The combination of the vanilla gelato eaten in the same bowl as orange sorbet was divine creamsicle.

  • Marvin

    I just purchased this book yesterday and everything in it looks wonderful. I am going to tinker with a recipe this weekend.

  • sean

    Michael, any idea how to make olive oil gelato as they serve at Batali’s Otto? It is amazing. But I am puzzled as to how they incorporate the oil into recipe. Suggestions?

  • eriq

    Peeking in the book at amazon, Mr. Lebovitz has a recipe for olive oil ice cream. It looks like it’s as simple as making the custard, then whisking in the olive oil.

  • ruhlman

    i would imagine it’s simply added to a base, a flavoring. you wouldn’t want to freeze aioli for a mayo ice cream, though who knows? maybe they do emulsify it before freezing.

  • Kim

    It must be the New Moon or something… I ran across David’s Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream recipe on his blog just this morning. I promptly put The Perfect Scoop in my Amazon queque. Nice to hear that other recipes will make it into the rotation.

  • can call me "Chef" Suzy

    re: Olive Oil Gelato: FOUND IT!!!

    Remember: PacoJet is to frozen as ISSI is to foam.

    Just as you can foam ANYTHING with ISSI, you can gelato-ize ANYTHING with PacoJet…

    (I can picture Mario smirking over this as he scoops it out of the PacoJet):

    copied DIRECTLY from:

    “pesto sauce (a profit-enhancer recipe)”

    [PacoJet’s own words…I shit you not!}

    Ingredients for 10 portions

    680 g 24 oz basil fresh
    40 g 1.3 oz
    pine nuts
    120 ml 4 fl.oz olive oil
    50 g 1.6 oz garlic
    8 g 0.15 oz salt

    Preparation / Filling of beaker

    1. Wash basil and blanch it for a few seconds in boiling salt water.
    2. Remove it and cool it immediately in ice water.
    3. Drain well and cut the basil roughly.
    4. Mix all ingredients well and put it into a beaker.
    5. Press down well.
    6. Freeze at -20°C (-4°F) for 24 hours.
    7. Pacotize only the quantity required and mix it directly under the hot pasta.


    1. For “mise en place” warm the pacotized pesto to melt and keep it refrigerated in jars for further use.
    2. To prepare a larger “mise en place“ (for example in the summer for the winter season, because of price and quality difference), you can pacotize several beakers, remove the pacotized content immediately, fill it into vacuum bags of 200 g (7 oz) size, (without letting it defrost), seal it and place it back into freezer.

  • Heidi

    Here’s the (relatively easy) recipe. I’ve made this with delicious results, although not the same dense texture as you get at Otto. I’m guessing is a equipment-related difference.

  • can call me "Chef" Suzy

    PS: “Pacotize Me!” %^P

    BTW: On the far oposite of the ice cream spectrum is my children’s fave:
    Ziploc Baggie Ice Cream

    – 1 sandwich size ziploc baggie
    – 1 gallon size ziploc ”
    – ice cubes
    – table salt
    – half and half
    – sugar and/or any yummy/sweet flavoring that mixes with milk (Ovaltine works)

    1) Mix sugar/flavoring to taste in a cup (Preferably one with a pour spout if you don’t wanna make a big mess and piss Mom off)

    2) Pour as much of the above as will fit — NOT TOO FULL! — into the sandwich baggie, and please make sure it’s really totally closed. Oh yeah, and make sure you leave a little “squish” room in the baggie, like a little air, but not too much…

    3) Fill the BIG baggie half full with ice (cubes, half-moons, whatever comes outta your mom’s fridge).

    4) Add SOME salt…like more than you put on fries, but not like, the WHOLE cardboard can-thing from the cupboard. Whatever’s left in the salt shaker on the table is usually about right.

    5) Put the CLOSED baggie with the liquid stuff in on top of the ice

    6) Fill the rest of the BIG bag with some more ice, but don’t like CRAM it full or the bag will break and make a BIG mess on the floor and mom will make you clean it up (and DO NOT let the dog lick up all the salt and puke!)

    7) Squish the whole thing around for like, the amount of time for 1 “Aqua Teen Hunger Force”. (DO NOT let mom catch you THROWING or PUNTING the bag across the room like fur shur!)

    8) OVER THE KITCHEN SINK open the BIG bag and fish out the little bag to see if it’s frozen the way you like it. DO NOT OPEN LITTLE BAG until you dry it off with a paper towel OVER THE SINK!

    9) Bite the corner off the little baggie and squeeze the ice cream goop into your mouth. That way you don’t hafta use a spoon and then forget you that you did and mom finds the sticky spoon between the couch cushions…


  • can call me "Chef" Suzy

    PPS: Re: (sweet?)Olive Oil Gelato

    …actually, I haven’t tried it, but it would seem that if you took the PacoJet Pesto Gelato recipe and substituted sugar for the garlic/salt, it might make an interesting sweet Basil Olive Oil Gelato.

    Might not enhance your profits though…

    I have a question: Since I have never personally used the PacoJet: Does anybody out there know; WTF does the thing do that a food processor or good blender can’t do?

    I mean, Ferran Adria supposedly LOVES the thing almost as much as he loves his ISSI, but I can’t see that it does, well — anything that a food proceesor or good blender can’t do?

    Oh man!…I really miss that GINORMOUS burr blender they had in the kitchen at Esalen. THAT was cooking with POWER TOOLS!

    Chef said: “Ya’ just get yerself a big ‘ol 5 or 10 gallon bucket, throw in anything, (and I mean ANYTHING) into the mix — frozen, solid, oil, water, whatever, and BRRRRRRRR!!! Voila!”

    “Esalen Special Organic Vegan Dip/Soup/Salad Dressing/Frozen Dessert/Pie Filling”

    …and sometimes ALL of the above, at successive meals…

    Boy Howdy! That MF was so big I had to practically reach OVER MY HEAD to hold the handle — and that was when I put the bucket ‘o fruits’n veggies on the floor.

    PacoJet? Pffffft-toooey!

    Effing UNItasker my man…what you need is a MULTI-Tasker. Something that you can use for gelato AND ce-ment!

    You want some GELATO man? I gotcha gee-lah-TOE right here!

    Now THIS sounds more like Mario!
    Or some weird mutation of Mario and Alton…

  • Joan

    Awesome… I need to try new ice-cream recipes. My ice-cream is too icy as well.

  • Connor

    To prevent icy ice cream, some of the best tips I’ve come across are (1) make sure the custard/ice cream base is REALLY cold before you add to machine. An ice bath is great, but in addition, I always refrigerate for several hours or overnight. (2) add a little vodka or spirits to the mix (1 to 2 tsp.) — a Cooks Illustrated tip. It lowers the freezing temperature of the entire mix, resulting in a smoother ice cream. (3) store ice cream in air-tight container, with a piece of plastic wrap covering the surface. This extra step really does make a difference.

  • Jennie/Tikka

    Hey Shasta – here’s your traditional custard ice cream recipe (I use this one myself):

    Egg yolks, 12
    Sugar, 12 oz.
    Milk, 2 pt.
    Heavy cream, 1 pt.
    Vanilla extract, 2 tsp.
    Salt, pinch

    Its even better when you use vanilla beans (2) instead of the extract.

    It is literally a Creme Anglaise custard sauce that you freeze so use the same procedure for making an Anglaise (but then chill overnight in the fridge and run it through the ice cream maker the next day).

  • bloviatrix

    I just bought this book and am planning to start using it this weekend. Last summer I worked my way through Emily Lucchetti’s A Passion for Ice Cream with great success.

    I’m disappointed to hear that the roasted bannana ice cream isn’t rich/flavorful enough as that recipe caught my eye. I think I might use David’s technique for roasting the banana but use Lucchetti’s ratios for banana ice cream. (I highly recommend making banana ice cream and adding chocolate and caramel swirls)

  • David

    Michael: Thanks so much for your kind words about my book and I’m glad you and your readers are enjoying it.

    For the Roasted Banana Ice Cream, I’m surprised some found the flavor vague. Emily Luchetti’s recipe, in her lovely ice cream book (which I just got), calls for 2 bananas to 2 cups liquid (cream & milk) and mine has 3 bananas for 1 1/2 cups liquid. (I use milk although you can use cream or half-and-half.)

    Although fat is a flavor-carrier, I find it obscures the taste of fruit so I knocked it down a bit in the fruit recipes. It’d be interesting to find out why the first recipe, which has less fruit and more liquid, tastes more banana-y.
    (Is that a word?)

    Melissa at Travelers Lunchbox did a write-up on that ice cream which folks might find interesting.

  • Deborah Dowd

    My kids gave me an electric ice cream freezer for mother’s day (they always wanted a big round mom?), the kind that still uses ice and salt, and I cannot wait (weight!) to make the malted milk ice cream! So when I have to go to Lane Bryant to get a bathing suit I will be cursing David and his book!

  • Ann

    I just found your blog from smitten kitchen. I just got this book and have been playing with the recipes. So far I’ve done the roasted banana and the chocolate ice cream (with the custard base). The banana is REALLY good, but my bananas were right on the verge of being rotten, they were so ripe. Maybe that has something to do with it? It’s interesting to mix the banana with the chocolate. You can definitely tell a difference in the textures — ice cream vs. custard — but that’s not a bad thing, to have the play of two textures and two flavors going on.

  • Heidi

    My bananas were also squishy, blackened ripe, which was the primary reason for selecting that particular recipe. I just made the frozen yogurt recipe from the same book using full-fat Fage Greek yogurt, and I had a difficult time not gobbing up the entire tart/sweet/creamy batch at one sitting. The recipe is pure simplicity.

  • Andy

    Hey Michael, about the avocado ice cream: i just made some (actually it was avocado coconut) and it was definitely good for one scoop. the only thing is you only want one scoop and then you never want it again. it tastes a lot like avocados, which is good, but its not something to experience more than once.

  • eriq

    I just made my first batch of malted milk ice cream last night. I’ve got to say it, this is the best batch of ice cream I have personally made.

    I didn’t add the chopped malted milk balls — I prefer my ice cream to be smooth, especially when trying out an unknown type. I think the bits and chunks can mask issues with consistency, texture and basic flavor.

    The consistency, texture and flavor of this one are just wonderful. Very smooth, very creamy. No noticeable ice crystals like I’ve had every other time I’ve tried to make ice cream at home.

    Tastes like an intense vanilla malt.

    Guess I need to get the book…

  • Ms B

    OMG! I made the malted milk ice cream over the weekend and it is to die for!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I used the Carnation brand malt, organic half-and-half and 40% cream and half-and-half. I added a tablespoon of the vodka and, yes, it did make the custard freeze more smoothly.

    I only added about half the malted milk balls called for — the entire amount just looked like way too much. Using two cups of unchopped Whoppers worked out just right in terms of creamy to crunchy ration. I note that I finally found a use for the Alaskan “ulu” knife my mother-in-law gave me – it is great for chopping up malted milk balls that otherwise would roll around.

    The recipe yielded about a quart. Next time, double batch . . .

    YUM YUM YUM!!!!!!!

  • Rinyin

    If you are really curious how avocado works as ice cream, you may want to give avocado shakes a try. It’ll give you a glimpse of how rich the avocado flavor is and how well it works as a sweet dessert item. Many Vietnamese Pho restaurants serve avocado shakes. Go try it. They’re good.