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It's crazy good!

Local artisans are giving gelato and ice cream the VIP treatment. French macaron ice cream sandwiches? In this town, everything's possible.

April 11, 2007|Amy Scattergood | Times Staff Writer

1. Place the sugar, corn syrup and one-half cup water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil. Use a candy thermometer to watch the temperature and cook to 280 degrees, then carefully add the butter.

2. Bring the temperature to 330 degrees or until the mixture is amber. Remove from the heat and add the salt, vanilla extract and almond meal. Immediately pour onto a parchment-lined shallow pan to cool and set.

Coffee ice cream

3 cups whole milk

3 cups cream

1 cup sugar, divided

8 egg yolks

1 ounce (about 6 tablespoons) coarse-ground coffee beans

7 ounces (about 1 1/4 cups) chopped toffee

1. In a medium saucepan, bring the milk, cream, half the sugar and the ground coffee to a boil.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, use a whisk to combine the egg yolks and the remaining half cup of sugar and slowly -- so as not to cook the eggs -- pour it into the hot cream mixture.

3. Reduce the heat to low and stir until the mixture coats the back of a spoon, about 30 minutes. Strain the mixture quickly and chill in an ice bath, about 10 to 15 minutes.

4. Pour the mixture into an ice cream machine and follow the manufacturer's instructions. Remove from the machine and stir in the chopped toffee. Place the ice cream in a container with a lid, cover the surface of the ice cream with plastic wrap, cover tightly with the lid and freeze (several hours to overnight) to harden.

Coffee macarons and assembly

4 large egg whites, divided

2 cups powdered sugar

2 cups almond flour

1 1/4 teaspoons instant coffee

1 1/8 cups granulated sugar

1. Mix 2 egg whites with the powdered sugar, almond flour and instant coffee and set aside.

2. Bring the granulated sugar and one-fourth cup water to a boil and, using a thermometer to monitor the temperature, cook until 240 to 248 degrees. Just before the sugar reaches temperature, begin beating the 2 remaining egg whites with a mixer. When the sugar syrup reaches temperature, turn the mixer on high and slowly add the syrup to the egg whites in a thin stream. Beat until the egg whites are firm and glossy.

3. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Fold the meringue into the almond mix. Place macaron batter into a large pastry bag with a wide, straight opening.

4. With a marker, draw 2 1/2 -inch circles onto parchment paper cut to the size of your cookie sheet (you should be able to draw 4 to 6 circles per pan, with about 1 1/2 inches between each circle). Place the parchment face-down on the cookie sheet. Pipe the batter onto the parchment-lined cookie sheet. Shake the pan and tap lightly on the counter top until the meringue settles to about 3 1/4 inches in diameter, and let them sit 12 to 14 minutes to form a "skin" (the surface will have lost its sheen).

5. Bake about 10 minutes, until solid on the outside but still chewy in the center. Place cookies on a rack to cool. To store, leave on a rack in a cool, dry place for up to two days.

6. For ice cream sandwiches, place about half a cup ice cream between two macarons and press gently together.

Each serving: 715 calories; 9 grams protein; 99 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 34 grams fat; 15 grams saturated fat; 153 mg. cholesterol; 145 mg. sodium.

**

Cherimoya gelato

Total time: About 1 1/2 hours plus freezing time

Servings: 10 servings

Note: From Leo Bulgarini, of Bulgarini Gelato. Have an ice bath ready for the custard. The same basic recipe may be used for peach gelato -- just use 2 cups chopped peaches and puree them with the juice of one-fourth lemon.

About 2 cups chopped

cherimoya

3/4 cup sugar

4 egg yolks

4 cups whole milk

1. In a blender or food processor, puree the cherimoya until smooth and set aside.

2. In a large saucepan, mix the sugar, egg yolks and milk together over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Do not boil.

3. After about 30 minutes on the stove (the mixture will have thickened into a custard while simmering), remove the pan from the heat and pour the mixture through a cheesecloth into a bowl set into an ice bath. Stir as the mixture cools.

4. When the custard has cooled to 40 degrees, take it out of the ice bath and blend it in a blender with the cherimoya puree. You may do this in batches if your blender is small.

5. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Spread it evenly into a container with a lid, cover the surface of the ice cream with plastic wrap and then the lid and freeze it for at least 5 hours, or overnight. Makes 5 cups.

Each serving: 172 calories; 5 grams protein; 28 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 5 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 92 mg. cholesterol; 44 mg. sodium.

**

Blood orange sorbetto

Total time: About 1 hour, plus freezing time

Servings: 8 (makes about 4 cups sorbetto)

Note: From Allessandro Fontana of Gelato Bar.

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 cup corn syrup

3 1/4 cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice

1. Combine sugar, corn syrup and one-half cup plus 1 tablespoon water in a large saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar is dissolved.

2. Turn off the heat and when the mixture reaches 70 degrees, add the blood orange juice and mix well.

3. Pour into an ice cream machine and make according to the manufacturer's instructions.

4. Remove and place sorbetto in a lidded container, covering the surface with plastic wrap, then covering with a lid and placing in the freezer.

Each serving: 129 calories; 1 gram protein; 32 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 0 fat; 0 saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 13 mg. sodium.

**

For an elegant ice cream sandwich, start with coffee-almond macarons

For a complete guide to preparing a coffee toffee ice cream sandwich, with photos of making toffee and assembling the sandwiches, go to latimes.com/food.

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