My ice cream maker has seen a bit of activity lately. In the past few weeks, I’ve churned out a delicious olive oil ice cream and a sensational Guinness milk chocolate ice cream (if only I had documented it), and last night, I took on my most formidable foe yet: Gianduja-Stracciatella Gelato. If you’re scratching your head, let me translate. Gianduja is a milk chocolate hazelnut treat from Italy, and Stracciatella is melted chocolate drizzled into churning ice cream, resulting in light, flakey “chips.” Together, the Gianduja and Stracciatella form a Voltron of tastiness in gelato form, or so one could only expect. And yes, I had high expectations.
This recipe hails from David Lebovitz’s amazing creamery bible The Perfect Scoop, which is a must-have for anyone with a functioning ice cream maker. Everything I’ve made from this book has been stellar, including the aforementioned olive oil and Guinness milk chocolate ice creams. Would the winning streak extend to this hazelnut gelato? Results after the jump…
First things first: gotta toast some hazelnuts. One of many steps in this slightly involved recipe.
While you gaze upon these lovely hazelnuts, I should note that this is the first time I’ve made gelato. Heart RACING.
After ten minutes in the oven, it’s time for Operation: Skin Peel.
Mixed results, largely successful though.
Eventually I load up all the hazelnuts into the blender. They shall soon meet a cruel and eviscerating fate.
And we have hazelnut powder.
Next I heat up some whole milk, cream, sugar, and salt.
When I deem it to be warm enough, I add the hazelnut powder, remove from the pan from the heat, and let it steep for an hour. Actually, I let it steep for nearly two hours.
A small army of bowls enlists for duty. I’m not crazy about how many dishes this recipe has already yielded for my sink.
About four ounces of milk chocolate. It’s not the best quality, but it’ll do.
Meanwhile, I need to free up my saucepan. I pour the hazelnut mixture through a sieve, and into bowl #2.
I fear I may have heated the milk too much initially because it’s now rather thick and takes a while to filter through.
Elsewhere in the kitchen, a cup of cream comes to a boil.
No, I didn’t just vomit on my hand. As per Lebovitz’s instructions, I used my hands to squeeze out the last remaining liquid from the leftover hazelnuts. I don’t think it helped much, but it sure made my hands feel mealy.
Back to the hot cream! Once it juuuuust reaches a boil, I pour it over the chocolate.
Soon we have a delightful chocolate cream mixture going on.
And now bowl #3 arrives at the dance, full of yolky glory.
This later leads to an attempt at an egg white omelet, which in turn is converted into a scramble when things go haywire.
Anyhooo, back to the (dirty) stove. The hazelnut mixture returns from whence it came. Yes, it’s back in the saucepan, warming up.
Once the mixture is warm enough, I pour it slowly into the egg bowl, whisking the whole way. Everything then goes back into the saucepan yet again, and I must set about stirring constantly to form the custard. Of course, since the mixture is already quite thick, it’s hard to know when it’s ready, but I rely on the old adage that once it begins to steam, the end is nigh. Thus, I stir for about two minutes after the initial plumes of steam rise from the pan and then call it a day.
Once I’ve determined that we’re in custard land, I pour the mixture into the chocolate-cream bowl. I should note that I am deeply fearful that I’ve pulled the trigger too early on the custard.
Lil’ stirs. Some vanilla extract also enters the equation.
We then relocate the bowl to an ice bath, which I like to house in a big pot. The goal is to cool down the mixture enough that it stops cooking. At that point, it can then go into the fridge…
The next morning, it’s time to get busy.
The mixture, sufficiently chilled. The white spots are merely areas where condensation on the plastic wrap has dripped onto the ice cream base.
I pour the batter into the machine and let it do its thang.
Time to make the Stracciatella! Behold, five ounces of semisweet chocolate.
Expert chopping by me, if I do say so myself.
Just trying to make y’all salivate.
A quick visit to the microwave, and we have melted chocolate.
The gelato is almost ready. I taste a little bit of it. It’s pretty good, but not as amazing as, say, the Guinness milk chocolate ice cream.
And now the Stracciatella. I couldn’t take pics because this required some dexterity with my hands. Basically, I drizzled the chocolate into the ice cream machine in the last minute of churning, but for whatever reason, this caused the cylinder to stop spinning. As a result, I had to scoop the gelato out of the machine, drizzling the chocolate into the container simultaneously and then stirring to break up the pieces. It was all a bit cumbersome and tricky, especially since the gelato started to liquify rather quickly, probably thanks to the warm chocolate. In the end, I managed to pull it off, but not without significant stress.
The final product…
Sort of looks like a big mound of cookie dough.
The Verdict? Oh YEAH. While the gelato on its own is merely pretty good, once mixed with the dark chocolate Stracciatella, it takes on a whole new life. The deeply chocolately mix-in elevates the entire dessert. Texture-wise, the gelato is perfectly dense and the Stracciatella light and delicate. A perfect balance. A PERFECT SCOOP.
Because this recipe is a bit more involved than others, I might not make it again anytime soon, but it certainly continues Lebovitz’s streak. Also, I should note that after one scoop, I’m pretty much full. This gelato ain’t light, kids…