Great day for gelato!

ImageWith all this rainy, freezing weather it is really starting to feel like winter.  I couldn’t help but wish for sunny, warm weather…and what’s more summer than ice cream…or gelato? What’s the difference anyway…

This summer I begged my brother to run some errands with me by promising him that we would stop for an ice cream.  As I wondered around Whole Foods he made his way over to the bakery and found what he thought was ice cream.  I gave him a few dollars to get himself something and he soon returned empty handed informing me that it was not ice cream.  So I walked over with him and realized that it was gelato. I told him that it was the Italian version of ice cream and that he would like it, but I really didn’t know anything more about it… so I did some research.

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On my most recent trip to Whole Foods I got the salted caramel with dark chocolate! It was very sweet but delicious! I also tried a little bit of the key lime pie and the Elvis (banana with peanut butter). They were okay…not as good as the carmel though! The key lime was too bitter and the Elvis had a very strong banana flavor, which I wasn’t a fan of.

Gelato originated in Italy and was founded by Bernardo Buontalenti.  The frozen dessert was born after Buontalenti was asked to prepare a dinner for the King of Spain by the Medici Family in the early 1500s. Ever since then gelato has become a signature Italian dessert.  As the popularity of gelato expanded it eventually made its way to America in 1770.

Ice cream soon evolved after the arrival of gelato because of the differences in manufacturing techniques between Italy and America.  The churning method used here allows for more air creating an entirely different product – ice cream.  Ice cream has around 50% air content while gelato has only 25% – 30%.  (However, gelato has a lower fat content, 3%-8%, while ice cream ranges from 10%-16%.) Since gelato has less air it has a denser texture and a more intensely concentrated flavor. When you see gelato in a store it appears more like frozen yogurt and is softer because it is typically served at a lower temperature than ice cream.

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Anyway my brother ended up loving the gelato and he recently has been asking me to try and make it at home.  This week I gave it a try.  I followed Giada De Laurentiis’ recipe for chocolate hazelnut gelato using an ice cream maker.*  I was worried because most of the recipes I have tried (i.e. ice cream and frozen yogurt) in our ice cream maker turn very icy once they set in the freezer but I was pleasantly surprised that this stayed rich and creamy – no big icy flakes! I’m sure we would have enjoyed it even more poolside in the heat of the summer but it was still a huge hit with the family…definitely a do over! Here’s the recipe:

Giada’s Chocolate-Hazelnut Gelato

Yields about 1 pint of gelato

Ingredients

2 cups whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup sugar, plus 1/4 cup

4 egg yolks

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread (recommended: Nutella)

1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, crushed, for garnish

Directions

In a saucepan combine the milk, cream, and 1/2 cup sugar over medium heat. Cook until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl whip the egg yolks with the remaining sugar using an electric mixer until the eggs have become thick and pale yellow, about 4 minutes. Pour 1/2 cup of the warm milk and cream mixture into the egg mixture and stir. Add this mixture back into the saucepan. Cook over very low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture becomes thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 7 to 10 minutes.

Place a strainer over a medium bowl and pour the warm custard mixture through the strainer. Stir in the vanilla and hazelnut spread until it dissolves. Chill the mixture completely before pouring into an ice cream maker and follow manufacturer’s instructions to freeze.*

To serve, scoop gelato into serving bowls and top with hazelnuts.

*Don’t worry if you don’t have an ice cream maker! There are still many frozen desserts you can make like a semifreddo, which is a partially frozen dessert made from a custard base similar to that of gelato.  You can make this in a small lined baking dish or bread pan.  Here’s a Giada de Laurentiis recipe for a chocolate hazelnut semifreddo.

Sources:
"WhyGelato.com." WhyGelato.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Dec. 2012.
"Italy In SF." The Difference Between Ice Cream and Gelato. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Dec. 2012
“The Deluxe Food Lover’s Companion (Deluxe Edition) [Hardcover].” The Deluxe Food Lover’s Companion (Deluxe Edition): Sharon Tyler Herbst, Ron Herbst: 9780764162411: Amazon.com: Books.
N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2012. (202, 392)
"Chocolate-Hazelnut Gelato." Recipe : Giada De Laurentiis : Recipes : Food Network. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Dec. 2012.
"Stracciatella Semifreddo." Recipe : Giada De Laurentiis : Recipes : Food Network. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Dec. 2012.