Frozen Favorite

Gelato is has been around since the late 16th century. The word “gelato” literally means “frozen” in Italian. The true difference between ice cream and gelato is in its composition. Gelato is created in smaller batches. No oversized ice cream drums for this delicate treat. It also requires a much hotter cooking temperature when preparing the custard, which is later chilled overnight before churning. Gelato is served at a warmer temperature than ice cream; that way the creamy textures and flavors are pronounced when you eat it. Great gelato uses the finest ingredients for rich and intense flavors. In contrast, ice cream is creamier and the flavor is an undertone. Gelato is bold and bossy!

My focus this summer is all things gelato. I have mastered two of my recipes so far: Bossy Chocolate with Sea Salt and Vanilla Bean Dream. Now, if you are not a chocolate lover, steer clear of my chocolate gelato. It is a dark chocolate lover’s dream! There is nothing subtle about the deep, rich flavors that overtake your chocolate craving. The vanilla bean gelato’s secret is in the vanilla bean paste. There is no need to steep a vanilla bean when you can purchase paste that has those same rich flavors in a jar. 

Bossy Chocolate with Sea Salt Gelato

4 large egg yolks, room temperature
3/4 c sugar
2 1/2 c whole milk
1/2 c heavy whipping cream
3.5 oz bittersweet chocolate, cut into bits
7 T cocoa powder
1/4 t salt
Ghirardelli Dark Sea Salt Soiree bar, cut into small bits

In a medium-sized bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar on high until fluffy and light golden yellow. This takes 2-3 minutes. Set aside. 

Over medium heat, warm milk and cream in a medium saucepan just until bubbles appear around the outside edge. Do not boil. Remove the milk from the heat once the bubbles appear. While milk is warming, melt the bittersweet chocolate in the microwave until smooth. Slowly stir about 1/2 cup of the warm milk mixture into the egg mixture and whisk rapidly. Slowly add more remaining mixture to the eggs, whisking continuously until it’s completely combined with the sugar mixture. Add in the cocoa powder and melted bittersweet chocolate. Return mixture to the saucepan and heat until it thickens enough that you can run your finger down the back of the wooden spoon and see your track. Remove from heat and pour custard through a fine mesh colander into a bowl. Cover the custard with a thin sheet of plastic wrap and chill overnight. 

To freeze: Place chilled custard into your ice cream maker’s bowl and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Add the candy bar bits 5 minutes before the gelato is finished chilling. Remove from the freezer container and place into an airtight plastic container and freeze for 2 hours before serving.

Vanilla Dream

4 egg yolks, room temperature
3/4 c sugar
2 1/2 c whole milk
1/2 c whipping cream
1 T vanilla bean paste
1/4 t salt

In a medium-sized bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar on high until fluffy and light golden yellow. Add in vanilla paste and salt. Set aside.

Over medium heat, warm milk and cream in a medium saucepan just until bubbles appear around the outside edge. Do not boil. Remove the milk from the heat once the bubbles appear. Slowly stir about 1/2 cup of the warm milk mixture into the egg mixture and whisk rapidly. Slowly add more remaining mixture to the eggs, whisking continuously until it’s completely combined with the sugar mixture. Return mixture to the saucepan and heat until it thickens enough that you can run your finger down the back of the wooden spoon and see your track. Remove from heat and pour custard through a fine mesh colander into a bowl. Cover the custard with a thin sheet of plastic wrap and chill overnight. 

To freeze: Place chilled custard into your ice cream maker’s bowl and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Remove from the freezer container and place into an airtight plastic container and freeze for 2 hours before serving.

Here are a few tips I have found to be true in making a creamy gelato:

•  Whip the egg yolks and sugar until creamy and light golden yellow (about 2 minutes).

•  Heat the milk and cream just until bubbles appear around the edge. That is the perfect temperature to incorporate into your eggs and sugar.

•  Gelato custard is done cooking when you can dip a wooden spoon in it, run your finger down the back of the spoon and can see the track. No need for a thermometer when you have a wooden spoon and your finger!

•  Use only the best chocolate you can find. If you use a mediocre chocolate, then expect to have mediocre gelato. I used Ghirardelli, which can be found in the baking section of the grocery.

•  Strain the custard through a fine mesh strainer. It catches any clumps and makes a perfectly smooth gelato.

Categories: Eat & Drink, Food Lover’s Guide, In The Magazine