Chocolate gelato is one of The Artist’s favorite desserts, especially when served with freshly baked cookies. He is constantly on the look out for new brands to try, weighing one against the other with scientific precision. When he heard that I was going to be making a batch for today’s Chocolate Monday, his smile could have lit up a moonless night!
Spring has arrived early here in California, but you don’t have to wait for warm weather to make this delicious treat. American’s do consume the most ice cream per year, but you may be surprised that other countries in the top five include Norway, Sweden, and Denmark! Apparently having a long summer season is not a requirement for consuming frozen desserts, LOL.
Making ice cream, gelato, sherbet, or other frozen desserts is easy if you have an ice cream maker. There are many on the market and you don’t have to spend a fortune to get one that makes great products. If you already have a KitchenAid stand mixer, you can even buy an attachment that churns ice cream! If you love frozen desserts, if your family constantly begs you to buy them, and if you want the best tasting ice cream you’ve ever had, buy a machine and make your own. You won’t go back to pre-made.
If you have been following The Heritage Cook for a while you know that I am having a love affair with Bourbon and Chocolate. It all started with a chocolate milkshake The Artist and I had at a restaurant in Napa Valley. We came home and happily recreated our version of it. Some friends were over for dinner that night, one of them a co-worker of The Artist’s. Ali has been talking about that milkshake at work so much that they decided to make their own version last week! It was declared a huge hit and I was so proud to have started a new tradition at the office.
When I thought about making chocolate gelato, it seemed a natural extension of this love affair to include Bourbon in today’s recipe. There isn’t much in it (only 2 tbsp), and it is subtly flavored, but it is definitely there. You can’t add a lot of alcohol to the mixture or it won’t freeze properly, but that doesn’t preclude you from adding a splash over the top when you serve it, LOL!
The original recipe I started with called for bittersweet chocolate, but I was all out so I substituted unsweetened chocolate and added some extra granulated sugar to balance the sweetness. What happened was that the intensity of the chocolate flavor was enhanced and the final gelato took on an almost brownie-like taste. It completely changed the gelato, making it even better! The Artist named today’s recipe with great pride 😉
There are a couple of tricks that will make your attempts at homemade ice cream a success every time. The first one is the hardest for me to remember because it requires me to think ahead – HA! For most machines on the market, you have to pre-freeze the container. This time I actually remembered and wasn’t trying to rush the process. Success!!
The other thing is to thoroughly chill the cooked custard. Again, this takes advanced planning … not my forte. Chill it in the refrigerator or freezer, stirring occasionally to make sure all parts of the liquid come in contact with the exterior of the bowl. Also, using a thin aluminum bowl will speed the process. Having a well-chilled custard helps your machine churn it more quickly, saving wear and tear on the equipment.
Listen to your machine as it is churning the custard. You will notice a change in the pitch of the sound it is making as the custard begins to thicken. Without even looking you can tell when it is ready to transfer to the freezer. It will be the consistency of soft-serve at this point but will thicken perfectly when transferred to another container and placed in the freezer to finish hardening. The flavors will also continue to blend and intensify, so make this a day or two in advance of when you want to serve it for the best results.
Some people may be tempted to replace the whole milk and cream with low-fat milk, and you can do this. But please resist the temptation to reduce calories. You will wind up with a wimpy version, not worthy of the title gelato. Honestly folks, make this with the good stuff and just don’t eat as much in one sitting. This is intensely chocolatey and so good that you really don’t need much to be completely satisfied.
OK folks, it is time for you to pop into your kitchen, dust off the ice cream maker and get to work on this amazing dessert. Use a small scoop and place some in a pretty serving bowl. Tuck a couple of cookies alongside and you have a dessert that your friends will be dreaming of and begging for!
Happy Chocolate Monday everyone!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
If you love keeping your mother’s or grandmother’s kitchen equipment for the memories they hold, there is one piece you should toss out … their old rubber spatulas. Over time they lose their flexibility and the old ones melted when near a heat source. The new silicone varieties are nearly impervious to heat and can be used when frying or to stir boiling candy syrups. They are worth the investment and add a bright spot of color to your kitchen!
The ingredients are gluten free, but check the labels on your cocoa powder and chocolate to make sure. Note on gluten in distilled alcohols … the distillation process removes virtually all the gluten ingredients, however many distillers add caramel coloring which usually contains trace amounts of gluten. For those with extreme sensitivities, avoid the Bourbon. You can substitute coffee, non-grain alcohols or use more cream.
- 2-1/4 cups whole milk (not low-fat)
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 oz unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
- 6 large egg yolks (discard whites)
- 2 tbsp good quality Bourbon such as Buffalo Trace
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Large pinch kosher salt (preferably Diamond Crystal brand)
- Pre-chill the bowl of your ice cream maker if needed. (Some of the high-end machines do not require pre-chilling.) Plan on making the custard a day before you are going to serve the gelato. You will need chilling time for it to firm up for best flavor and texture.
- Set a medium bowl next to the stove with a medium-fine wire sieve in it.
- Heat the milk, cream, and 3/4 cup of the sugar in a 3-quart saucepan, stirring often with a heatproof spatula, until the sugar dissolves and the milk starts to steam. Add the cocoa powder and chopped chocolate and whisk until smooth. Pour into a 4-cup heatproof measuring cup with a spout.
- Meanwhile, place the egg yolks and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light yellow and very thick. Reduce the mixer speed to low and very slowly pour about 2 tbsp of the hot chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Beat for 30 seconds and add another 2 tbsp of the chocolate. This will temper the eggs, bringing them up in temperature so they are not as likely to scramble when you add the remaining hot liquid. With the mixer on low speed, very slowly pour in the remaining hot chocolate mixture and beat until smooth and glossy.
- Transfer the egg and chocolate mixture back into the 3-quart saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula, until thickened. An instant-read thermometer will register 178°F to 180°F. The mixture will start off very thin and just when you think it won't thicken, suddenly it is done! Just be sure not to allow the mixture to boil or you will have scrambled eggs.
- Pour the mixture through the sieve you previously set into the medium bowl by the stove. Pouring the custard through a strainer will remove any egg bits that may have formed or unmelted chocolate pieces. Scrape the bottom of the strainer so you get as much of the custard as possible into the bowl. Stir in the Bourbon, vanilla, and salt. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the custard and chill completely. The plastic wrap will help keep a skin from forming on the surface. You can make the custard up to a day in advance.
- Once thoroughly chilled, pour the custard into the bowl of your ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer's directions. Transfer to covered containers and freeze. It will become quite hard. For the easiest serving, let sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes before scooping it into bowl and enjoying.
- Yield: about 1 quart
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