On a hot summer day, few things are more refreshing than a scoop of ice cream. Denver, of course, has some terrific ice cream shops (Sweet Action, High Point Creamery, Little Man, and these hot spots among them) but another way to enjoy the delicious treat is to make it at home.

In preparation for tomorrow’s Food Lover’s Book Club at the Cherry Creek Library, I picked up a copy of The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz and experimented with a few of the recipes. In addition to making basic vanilla and chocolate, I made chocolate sauce and cones.

To make vanilla ice cream you only need cream, milk, sugar, egg yolks, and good-quality vanilla. And while the recipe takes time (don’t try to multitask while cooking the custard, and have an ice bath ready), once you master the basics, you can get creative with add-ins and additional flavors.

How to:

In a small pot, combine 1 cup cream, 1 cup milk, and ¾ cups sugar. Let the mixture heat up and then let it cool for about 30 minutes. Next whip 6 egg yolks in a separate bowl. Once the milk mixture has cooled, add it to the egg yolks, whisking as you combine. Return the milk-egg mixture to the stovetop and heat again until the mixture is creamy and thick. In another bowl, add a second cup of cream along with 1 teaspoon of vanilla; strain the custard mixture into the bowl. Completely cool in an ice bath and then the fridge. Now you’re ready to make ice cream.

Machine vs. Hand Stirred:

Ice cream makers simplify the act of freezing the cream. On my first attempt, I used the machine whose bowl I had frozen the night before. I simply turned it on, added the cooled custard and let it spin around for about 15 minutes. The result was smooth, creamy, delicious ice cream.

For my second attempt, I made chocolate ice cream (add chocolate chips and ¼ cup cocoa powder to the milk mixture at the beginning) and turned the custard into ice cream by hand. Instead of adding the mixture to the machine, I spread it out on a large rimmed cookie sheet and put it in the freezer. Every 15 minutes, I took it out, stirred it around, and put it back in. After 1 hour, I had the best, smoothest chocolate ice cream I’d ever tasted.

The verdict:

A machine, which can run $60 to $300, does make ice cream a more convenient luxury. But, if you have time (and the space in your freezer), don’t bother with the purchase.

Making ice cream is a fun summer activity with a sweet reward at the end. Master the basics and then work your way through the Perfect Scoop for a delicious world of cool treats. See you at Book Club!