If there is something dear to the heart of most of us, it is ice cream, or some form of ice cream, especially on a hot summer’s day. Making ice cream from scratch is a bit intense at times – like when the hand-crank freezer leaks salt into the batch you have been waiting for. Another disappointment is when it gets chunks of ice when you freeze it in the freezer without having churned it because you don’t have a churn. You can also put a bowl in a bucket of ice and chill the mixture by hand, stirring, stirring, stirring, but that is a bit primitive.
Enter the electrified, freeze-the-bowl-overnight variety of churn. We got one for our wedding over 20 years ago, and we still use it. It looks something like this one, except we have to make the ice cream! And it works wonderfully well for gelato.
I’ve outgrown my taste for heavy, thick ice cream. Frozen yogurt is okay, but never a favorite. Sorbet is better than ice cream or frozen yogurt, but not quite what hits home. The other night, we went out shopping and ended up buying gelatos just because. And then the thought hit: why not make it at home? We just love gelato!
Research began, and at first I was sure I was not finding anything that was gelato as it sounded way too much like ice cream. The difference, it seems, is that gelato is not all cream, but a bit of cream or half-and-half combined with milk. Some gelato recipes have egg yolks, and others do not. Those egg yolks are necessary to absorb water and prevent those nasty chunks of ice from forming, so some recipes that are eggless use a starch of some sort to absorb the water molecules. Interesting, eh? You can use cornstarch or potato starch or arrowroot. Not liking that idea, I used egg yolks in mine, but it is good information to have on hand. Ya gotta love the internet!
Basic Gelato Recipe
3 c. whole milk / half-and-half / cream combination (largest portion should be milk)
3/4 – 1 c. sugar
4 egg yolks
Heat milk combination over low heat with half the sugar, stirring to dissolve sugar. Watch the heat does not get too high. Beat egg yolks with remaining sugar until thick, heavy, and filled with air. Add a bit of vanilla if you want. Once the milk is warmish, and the yolks are beaten and thick, take about a cup of warm (not scalding hot) milk and beat it into the yolks. This is to equalize the temperatures of both mixtures. If the milk is too hot, you will cook the yolks, which is not what you want to do. Then, beat in the rest of the milk. Once this is done, take a fine strainer or sieve and pour the mixture through it to remove any chunks of cooked egg or whatever. Store in the fridge until cold. Then freeze, using whatever ice cream maker you have on hand, being sure to read the directions!!!
Customizing your gelato is easy. Some hints I read about making good gelato, one with a deep rich flavor, is to use over-ripe (but not spoiled) fruits, freeze it until custardy in texture, not hard, and so on. Too little flavor is not good! I read about the following types of gelatos:
- mascarpone lemon gelato
- chocolate-cardamom-stewed fig gelato
- toasted coconut gelato
- raspberry gelato
- blueberry lemon gelato
You get the idea – you can do anything you want! What did I choose?
Mint & Chocolate Chunk Gelato
2 c. whole milk
1 c. combination of cream & half-and-half
1 c. sugar
4 egg yolks
fresh mint leaves
chopped Valhrona 70% or more dark chocolate (1 bar)
Follow the directions above. In the milk mixture, add the mint leaves and leave to soak a bit. Beat the egg yolks and vanilla. When ready to combine the two, I strained out the mint leaves and set them aside. Once the yolks and milk were combined, I took the mint leaves, now soft from being in the warm milk, and chopped them up as fine as I could. Then I put them into the yolk-milk mixture, and put the whole mess in the fridge to cool. Once ready to churn, I set up the ice cream maker and churned – about 20-25 minutes by my watch – and then, before removing the gelato from the churn, added the chopped chocolate.
Freeze, eat, devour.
Altogether, I was very happy with the recipe. I think the chocolate could also be melted and then slowly poured into the gelato as the ice cream machine runs. That could be pretty darn delicious. I know we will be revisiting gelato a lotto this summer.