vegan daemon

The mofo scoop on Wheeler del Torro’s <i>The Vegan Scoop</i>. (Cue: gratuitous ice cream not-porn.)

The Vegan Scoop: 150 Recipes for Dairy-Free Ice Cream That Tastes Better Than the “Real” Thing by Wheeler del Torro (2009)
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WHEELER DEL TORRO’S THE VEGAN SCOOP IS MY FAVORITE COOKBOOK OF ALL TIME. The end. Shortest book review ever.

I kid, I kid – but just about the last part. In all seriousness, The Vegan Scoop really is a personal favorite. I love everything about this cookbook: the gorgeous, glossy pages. The luscious, lovingly-photographed balls of frozen deliciousness. The easy-to-follow – yet terribly creative – recipes. The sometimes-sneakily subversive “tasty tidbits” that grace each page’s margins. The way del Torro encourages readers to experiment with different fruits, spices, seasonings and – yes! – even vegetables on their own. The freaking color palette. Simply put, The Vegan Scoop is all kinds of awesomeness.

Besides, who doesn’t *heart* ice cream, hmmmm?

The book, which – have I not already mentioned? – itself looks yummy enough to eat – features 150 recipes for vegan, dairy-free ice cream and ice-cream related foodstuffs. (Disclaimer: all of the ice cream recipes require an ice cream maker. I’ll be reviewing my own model tomorrow, so stay tuned!)

del Torro arranges his frozen concoctions into nine categories:

  • Classic Flavors: Vanilla, Chocolate, Rocky Road, Caramel and Butterscotch;
  • Fruity Flavors: Blueberry, Nectarine, Honeydew, Green Apple and Pear;
  • Healthy Flavors: Lavender Mint, Vanilla Cardamom, Sweet Potato Basil and Oats and Fig;
  • Asian Flavors: Black Sesame, Wasabi, Cherry Blossom and Goji Berry Banana;
  • Caribbean and Island Flavors: Guava, Coconut, Star Fruit and Ginger Beer Sorbet;
  • Novelty Flavors: Chestnut, Chocolate Pretzel, Pecan Apple Danish and New York Irish Creme;
  • Aphrodisiacal Flavors: Jasmine, Rose Water, Licorice and Fresh Mint Lime;
  • Ice Cream Vessels and Sauces: Sugar Cones, Hot Fudge, Caramel Sauce and Very Berry Sauce; and
  • Ice Cream Sides and Desserts: Blondies, Chocolate Chip Biscotti, Boston Cream Pie and Italian White Cream Cake – to name but a few.
  • While many of del Torro’s ice cream flavors are incredibly imaginative (Seaweed! For reals?), all use the same base as a jumping-off point, namely: 1 cup of soymilk, 2 cups of soy creamer and 2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder, with 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar, depending on the dish. (This is the same foundation on which many of the recipes at A Vegan Ice Cream Paradise are built. Frugal vegan alert!) The cool thing about this, of course, is that uniformity leads to familiarity, which – in this case – breeds confidence and self-esteem. After a little time spent practicing with the recipes in The Vegan Scoop, even this amateur felt comfortable enough to experiment with her own fantasy flavors.

    To wit: my dear mother gifted Shane and I an ice cream maker for x-mas 2008, and it was shortly thereafter that I purchased The Vegan Scoop. During the subsequent two summers of ice cream churning madness, we experimented with the following flavors:

    Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream (page 39)
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    Berries Galore (a variation on del Torro’s Blueberry, page 62)
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    Vanilla Ice Cream, with frozen chunks of chocolate brownies mixed in as suggested (page 36)
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    Chocolate Ice Cream, with frozen chunks of chocolate brownies mixed in, again at del Torro’s suggestion (page 37)
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    Cookie Dough Ice Cream (page 42); pictures are of the frozen cookie dough chunks (top) and finished product (bottom)
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    Pumpkin and Oats Ice Cream (page 139); not my best work, photography wise!
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    Green Tea Ice Cream (page 122)
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    My own Chocolate Coffee Marshmallow Ice Cream,
    based on del Torro’s Coffee Ice Cream recipe (page 58)
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    Of the recipes we tried, all but one ranged from tasty at the low end (Mint Chocolate Chip, Pumpkin and Oats) to yummy (Vanilla Brownie, Berries Galore) to downright orgasmic (Green Tea, Chocolate Coffee Marshmallow). The lone dud? Jalapeño (page 172). Actually, I wouldn’t call it a “dud” so much as a “bomb” or an “explosive of some type.”

    I didn’t dare try it, but according to Shane – who loves spicy foods – that shit was hot. The recipe calls for three medium-sized jalapeños, to be tempered by a quart of ice cream; you do the math! Shane tried “watering” the spice down by mixing some of the Jalapeño with store-bought vanilla ice cream in a 1:1 ratio, to no avail; eventually, he threw the whole batch out. Which is pretty much unheard of for him (seriously, he is like my human garbage can, eating up everything that I can’t/won’t).

    Other than this one early debacle, we’ve had nothing but good luck with the recipes found in The Vegan Scoop. The Green Tea and Chocolate Coffee Marshmallow Ice Creams are my own holy grails: the former tastes way better than any store-bought Green Tea ice cream I’ve tried (it blows Turtle Mountain’s Purely Decadent version out of the water, yo!); and, while I used to enjoy the hell out of Tofutti’s Coffee Marshmallow Swirl, I haven’t seen it on a store shelf in ages (by which I mean at least five years), so I’m absolutely thrilled at the prospect of making my own!

    Lemonade Ice Cream; recipe via Betsy @ The Blooming Platter, who also makes use of del Torro’s base formula. I didn’t realize it at the time, but The Vegan Scoop features its own recipe for Lemonade Ice Cream (page 161).
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    Limeaid Ice Cream; like The Blooming Platter’s Lemonade Ice Cream, but made with Limeaid instead! (Watch out for the Skittles; you’re likely to break a tooth on ’em, even if just used as a topping and not mixed in with the batter. They freeze fast!)
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    This – the ability to bring your own fantasy flavors to life – is truly the coolest (pun so intended! and cheesy!) part of owning an ice cream maker, understanding the basics of ice cream churning, and having the confidence to venture out on your own. Most of which I can thank Wheeler del Torro for. (Thanks, dude! Also: mom.)

    Before I close this review out, I should probably offer a caveat re: the ingredients found in The Vegan Scoop. About half of the recipes call for rather mundane, easy-to-find (assuming you live in middle-class America) ingredients; the kind of items you can pick up at any box store. Others require a little more searching, e.g., online or in “international” or “specialty” food stores. For example, I had to purchase the matcha powder for the Green Tea ice cream online (Amazon; so many choices!), and I’m still searching for the ingredients for others (star fruit? black sesame seeds? damn you Wal-Mart, why don’t you carry lavender leaves!?).

    Keep this in mind when calculating the convenience and price of making your own ice cream as opposed to buying it in the store. I prefer to make my own, since I live 1 1/2 hour’s drive from the closest Whole Foods, and have a stand-alone freezer in my laundry room. If you rent a box in NYC and live a stone’s throw from a vegan ice cream parlour, DIY ice cream – or at least that which requires a bulky ice cream maker – might not be the best choice for you. (And also: I hate you. Unless you invite me over for a vegan tour of NYC. In which case I love you.)

    (An abridged version of this review was also posted on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads.)

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