Friday, May 24, 2013

Chocolate Hazelnut Gelato

I know what you're thinking, and no it wasn't warm today. It almost killed me, putting on a sweatshirt this morning so I wouldn't freeze on my way to work. So why am I posting a gelato (Italy's version of ice cream) recipe? Because 2 days ago when I made it (heck, even if I had posted this yesterday), it was HOT! It's pointless complaining about the weather in this area  (although most of us will never stop talking about it if given the opportunity) because we all know it is ridiculous. Regardless, I enjoyed my ice cream thoroughly in the 80 degree weather a couple days ago.


This was the very first recipe I made with my ice cream maker. I was going to start with a regular good old vanilla ice cream recipe, but believe it or not, I didn't have all the ingredients on hand for it (and I couldn't wait to try out my machine!), but I did have everything I needed for this chocolate hazelnut gelato. And man, was it delicious. Even better, it was simple to make!

Quick side note for those who don't know exactly what gelato is. It's basically your typical "American" ice cream except it has a creamier texture. The reason for this is because it usually incorporates less fat and less air in its recipes. And boy, is it scrumptious.

I made my custard the night before so it would have a chance to fully cool in the refrigerator overnight. To make the custard, you start by mixing milk, cream and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, cooking until the sugar dissolves. In the mean time you whip your egg yolks with some sugar in a mixer until the yolks have become thick and pale yellow in color.

whipped egg yolks and sugar
Then to temper the eggs (bring them up to the same temperature as the cream mixture so they don't curdle) you add gradually about 1/2 cup of the warm cream mixture to the egg yolks and stir until smooth. Then pour that back into the saucepan with the rest of the cream mixture and cook over low heat until it is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 7 - 10 minutes.

Just thick enough so if you run your finger over the back, the liquid stays separated 
Pour the mixture through a strainer to ensure maximum creaminess and then stir in vanilla and hazelnut spread (I used Nutella) until dissolved.


Cover and refrigerate until chilled. Then pour into an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer's instructions to freeze. I popped mine in the freezer for a little bit longer afterwards so it could harden just a bit more. When it came to serving, I sprinkled some toasted, chopped hazelnuts on top. Since it was homemade (and very warm in my house) the gelato started melting faster than I expected. Of course, I gobbled up mine so fast it really wasn't a concern.


Even if it is cold out, this is definitely a treat worth making!


Chocolate Hazelnut Gelato
Makes 6-8 servings
{slightly adapted from foodnetwork.com}

Ingredients
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chocolate hazelnut spread (I used Nutella)
  • 1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, crushed, for garnish
Directions
  1. In a medium saucepan combine milk, cream and 1/4 cup of sugar over medium heat. Cook until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, using the whisk attachment on your mixer, whip the egg yolks with the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar until the eggs become thick and pale yellow, about 4 minutes.
  3. Slowly pour 1/2 cup of warm 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 - 10 minutes.
  4. Pour warm custard mixture through a strainer set up over a medium bowl. Stir in the vanilla and hazelnut spread until dissolved. Cover and chill the mixture completely before pouring it into an ice cream maker. Follow the manufacturer's directions to freeze. Return to freezer for 1-2 hours to harden more if desired.
  5. If desired, when ready to serve, garnish with hazelnuts.

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