Is there anything more sublime than gelato? That delectable Italian ice cream, with its silky texture, is my idea of heaven. Frankly, I’ve been remiss in not making it before now.
I admit I had no idea of what gelato was until I toured Italy in the 1980s. Used to the creamy, aerated texture of regular ice cream, eating gelato was a revelation. Relying more on milk than cream, and often with less eggs, it tastes like a frozen (but not too frozen) milkshake. Without all that cream, gelato is richer in flavour and denser in texture than ice cream. There are a multitude of flavours available – some of my favourites tend to be the light fruit flavours like lemon, lychee and watermelon.
However, just sometimes you ache for something rich and velvety like dark chocolate. This double chocolate gelato recipe from BBC Food certainly does the trick. It’s incredibly easy to make, yet tastes like the real deal. I used 62% cocoa chocolate which made for a slightly bitter dark chocolate flavour. If you’re not a fan of that level of bitterness, you might opt for a 50% cocoa chocolate instead, or simply pair it with something sweet, like meringues, as I did.
While I used an ice cream machine, you can make it without – the instructions are below for both. And just be aware, once frozen, gelato can take a while to soften up so bear that in mind when serving. Ideally, it’s meant to be served at about 15 degrees Fahrenheit.
Now that I’ve broken the ice (pardon the pun) and made my first gelato, I fully intend to try making a bunch of ’em this summer. I’m salivating already!
- 750ml/1-1/4 pint whole milk
- 40g/1-1/2 oz cocoa powder
- 5 free-range egg yolks
- 80g/3 oz sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 200g/7 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped (I used 62% cocoa-based)
- Take some of the measured milk and combine with the cocoa powder to form a thin paste.
- Heat the remaining milk just to the scalding point (not boiling), then remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
- In a large heat-proof bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until very pale and thick (this is best done with an electric whisk).
- In a thin stream, add the hot milk to the egg mixture, whisking continuously, until completely combined. Add the cocoa paste and return the mixture to the saucepan.
- Over a moderately low heat, stirring constantly, cook the custard very gently until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon (if you draw a line through the custard on the back of the spoon with your finger, it will stay clear). Be careful not to overheat or the mixture will curdle.
- Remove from the heat and pour the mixture into a large bowl, in which you have added the finely chopped chocolate. Let the mixture sit for a minute so that the chocolate softens, then add in the vanilla extract and stir until completely smooth.
- Allow the mixture to cool, then refrigerate, covered, for at least eight hours, preferably overnight.
- Churn in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Alternatively pour the mixture into a large plastic box. Cover and freeze for an hour. Remove from the freezer and whisk with a hand-held electric mixer or stick blender until the ice crystals are broken up. Repeat three more times and then freeze until firm.
- Prior to serving, take out the frozen gelato and allow it to become somewhat soft (it shouldn't be as hard as ice cream).
Food Photography Info: Canon 550D (EOS Rebel T2i); Sigma 30mm 1.4 DC ‘Art’ lens / Natural lighting