Friday, August 15, 2014

Dark Chocolate Gelato - Intense Flavor, Delicate Texture

Italy's famous gelato is a delicious frozen dessert with an astonishing clarity of flavor and a unique texture

Italy's famous gelato is a delicious frozen dessert with an astonishing clarity of flavor and a unique texture. It has a rich, creamy and elastic consistency that just melts in your mouth. It is usually prepared using fresh and good quality ingredients such as milk, egg yolks, cream and natural flavorings. Dark Chocolate gelato is my personal favorite and I found an amazing recipe for it!

 Italy's famous gelato is a delicious frozen dessert with an astonishing clarity of flavor and a unique texture

But first, you may wonder if there is a difference between gelato and ice cream. There are two main characteristics that sets them apart, regarding the ingredients and churning technique. First, ice creams contain usually 15% milk fat while gelato is prepared with only 5-8%, making it a lighter alternative. Secondly, due a different churn process, less air is allowed to be incorporated in the gelato mixture producing a dense, rich and elastic texture but also a more intense and flavorful taste. On the other hand, more air is added in the ice creams for an easier scoop and a softer texture.

Italy's famous gelato is a delicious frozen dessert with an astonishing clarity of flavor and a unique texture

I found this incredible recipe on one of my favorite Romanian culinary blogs owned by Adi Hădean, a foodie, well respected chef and future Masterchef judge. It's the best chocolate gelato I have ever tasted and the greatest part about it was the fact that I prepared it myself. 

Italy's famous gelato is a delicious frozen dessert with an astonishing clarity of flavor and a unique texture

An important part of making gelato is the base which is a mixture of milk, egg yolks, cream and sugar that needs to be properly pasteurized. For this it's necessary to have a cooking thermometer and a food scale because both the base temperature as well as the measurements are important to get the best result. Also, after the base is cooked it needs to be place directly on an ice bath. The purpose of this step is to rapidly lower the mixture temperature so it ensures a correct pasteurization. I usually prepare the base a day ahead because it needs time to maturate and develop flavor.

Italy's famous gelato is a delicious frozen dessert with an astonishing clarity of flavor and a unique texture

This base can be used for a variety of  flavorings such as chocolate, vanilla, hazelnut, pistachio, coconut and more. So, this is my advice, follow the instruction carefully, use quality ingredients and you'll create a delightful Italian gelato in your own home.

Yield: 6 servings                            

Ingredients for gelato base:
  • 500 ml whole milk
  • 50 ml heavy cream
  • 75 g egg yolk (approximately 4 egg yolks)
  • 150 g (3/4 cup) granulated white sugar 
Ingredients for chocolate flavoring:
  • 400 g dark chocolate (60 % cocoa)
Directions:
  1. For the gelato base preparation, place the milk, heavy cream, egg yolks and sugar in a blender and blend until fairly homogenous, approximately 2 minutes. Transfer the mixture in a heatproof bowl.
  2. In the meantime, place a pot with 3 cm (1 inch) water on the stove and bring it to boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer slowly.
  3. Place the bowl with the base mixture on top of the pot and stir constantly, for about 20 minutes, until the composition reaches 72-74 °C (161-165 °F). 
  4. Prepare an ice bath by filling a large pot with ice and water.
  5. When the mixture gets to the desired temperature, remove from heat and place the bowl directly on ice bath.
  6. After the base is cooled completely, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  7. For the chocolate flavoring preparation, in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of 3 cm (1 inch) simmering water, melt the chocolate, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and let it cool.
  8. Place the melted dark chocolate and the base in a blender and blend until combined, for about 2 minutes. Ensure that the mixture is completely chilled before going to the next step.
  9. Transfer the gelato mixture into the ice cream maker and process according to the manufacture's instructions.
  10. For the best texture, serve the gelato immediately.  
  11. Scoop gelato into serving bowls.
Enjoy!

Tips and Tricks:
  • The gelato base can be stored in the refrigerator up to 3 days. 
  • If not served immediately, transfer gelato into airtight container and freeze up to 1 week. Let it soften for 5 minutes before serving.

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