I couldn’t help but fall in love with this, Fany Gerson’s newest book. Here’s an example of why:
“The use of garrafas to churn the ice cream makes Mexican ice cream unique. A garrafa is a large metal cylinder that is placed inside a wooden barrel and surrounded by ice and coarse salt. The ice cream based is then poured into the garrafa, and a nievero [ice cream maker] stirs by hand using a long metal or wooden paddle and dancelike movements.” (From Mexican Ice Cream, Beloved Recipes and Stories).
Garrafas in use, photo from Mexican Ice Cream
(In fact, you can purchase one of these from a number of on-line sources, including Target, which offers a Sunbeam 4 qt. Wooden Bucket Ice Cream Maker for $40; even though it does have a motorized electric crank, no one is going to stop you from dancing in your kitchen!)
As a private chef with a focus on modern Mexican cuisine, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Mexican Ice Cream, and for purely selfish reasons. I am a private chef with a focus on savory dishes, and generally shy away from baking; but, of course, all the dinners I serve include dessert. I am always looking for new ideas and directions as well as new ways to present the amazing flavors of Mexico. Here was something I could make, Mexican ice cream! Little did I know that I would also find nuggets to feed my passion for gastronomy and food history in this 163-page gem of a book.
The sweet treats covered range from the classics, like Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream to the sublime (Carmelized Fig Ice Cream with Mezcal and Queso Fresco, anyone?); from regional ice cream specialties like Oaxaca’s Nieve de Leche Quemada (Burnt Milk Ice Cream) traditionally paired with Nieve de Tuna Roja (Prickly Pear Sorbet), to modern Mexican specialities like Lime Gelato with Chia Seeds. The recipes are easy to follow, the photographs are absolutely gorgeous, and the book is well-rounded, starting with a section on ingredients and equipment and finishing with Cones, Toppings and Sauces.
Fany Gerson is considered one of the country’s most authoritative voices on Mexican confections. Her first book, My Sweet Mexico, was nominated for a James Beard award 2010 for best baking and pastry cookbook. That was followed by Paletas, which introduced American home cooks to the “delicious Mexican Ice pops [that are] the [quintessetial] frozen treat in Mexico. Every little town has at least one paletería (paleta shops) and to Mexicans, paletas are like gelatos to Italians, a delicious and integral part of the culture”.
Gerson is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA); she has been featured in the New York Times, Gourmet, Fine Cooking, Saveur Magazine, Daily Candy, and New York magazine, among others. Fany has worked in a range of fine-dining kitchens around the world including 3 Michelin starred Akelare in Spain and Eleven Madison Park in New York. After a long trip to her native Mexico in 2009 during which she did the research for her first book, Gerson opened La Newyorkina, a Mexican ice cream and sweets shop dedicated, “to shar[ing] the sweetness of Mexico”.