Gelato is ice cream’s smoother more flavorful Italian cousin. In Italy there are gelaterie shops everywhere. The trend came to the US several years ago, but there are still many people I meet that are not familiar with gelato. It is best made in small batches. It has less butterfat than most ice cream and there are a few secrets to making it smoother. Most recipes for gelato use only egg yolks, no whites. The yolk works as a stabilizer in the process. The other secret is to cook the custard and then after straining let it sit for for several hours after pasteurization is complete for the milk proteins to hydrate, or bind. This hydration reduces the size of the ice crystals, making a smoother texture in the final product.
I have an Italian gelato machine. But you do not have to have one to make good gelato. It does help if you have a machine which stirs while refrigerating, but you can still get good results with an old fashioned ice cream machine. My machine is made by Lusso and I call her Lucille.
Here is the recipe:
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/3 cup dried culinary lavender flowers
- Zest of one lemon in large strips (use a vegetable peeler not a zester)
- 7 egg yolks
- 1 cup sugar
- dash salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- Purple food coloring paste (buy this in cake decorating section of a craft store) optional
- Bring milk, lemon zest and lavender almost to a boil
- Turn off heat and allow to sit for 1 hour
- Strain and discard lavender & lemon peel
- Add cream with a whisk
- Reheat strained milk & cream until bubbles form around edge of the pan
- Beat the egg yolks with with sugar and a pinch of salt in a stainless steel bowl that will fit over a saucepan of water. Beat vigorously until the mixture is yellow and creamy (about 3 minutes)
- Add a ladle of the hot milk/cream to the egg/sugar mixture and continue to whisk, then add the remaining milk/cream mixture very slowly
- Maintain a simmer in the bottom of the double boiler, do not allow it to come to a rolling boil
- Beat by hand or with a mixer while cooking for about 15 minutes, do not allow it to boil
- When the back of a wooden spoon is coated with the mixture and you can draw a line with your finger it is ready.
- Stir in the vanilla and pour through a strainer into another bowl that will fit into a larger bowl fitted with ice
- Whisk in the coloring if you want to use it
- Place plastic wrap over the entire top of the mixture, touching it all the way around. This creates a seal and will not allow a skin to form.
- Place the bowl with the mixture in it into the bowl of ice and allow to rest until all of the ice melts.
- At this point you can place it in the refrigerator to chill further, as long as over night.