Chica and I are thrilled that Spring has sprung and the summer months are just around the corner. The warm weather brings thoughts of cookouts and, for me at least, ice cream! Ice cream is my weak point. I love making it, buying it and most of all, eating it! So when I went to Italy last year with my family, I knew I had to try this mythical creation they had there called gelato. I was not disappointed. Those servings of gelato were worth the cost of the plane tickets! Once back in the US, I tried gelato at a few restaurants around town but nothing came close to what I had had there. When the book, Making Artisan Gelato: 45 Recipes and Techniques for Crafting Flavor-Infused Gelato and Sorbet at Home (Quarry Publications), came across my desk, I was skeptical that what I could make at home in my Cuisinart ice cream maker could possibly rival what I had had in Italy. I was wrong! Oh, so deliciously wrong!
I will admit, my cooking skills aren’t up to Chica’s level but once I set my mind to learning to do something in the kitchen, I become quit adept. I read through the introduction to this book at least four times before I even went to the store to buy my first ingredients. I was scared a bit by the concept of tempering eggs, which sounded quite complicated. And stirring constantly and heating to certain temperatures and ice baths all pretty much freaked me out but once I went through my first batch, the second batch was much easier.
The first recipe I tried was a basic French vanilla. I always try the vanilla flavor of a new brand or type of ice cream first because in my opinion, that is going to tell you the quality of all of the other flavors. It’s hard to hide sub-par ingredients behind a vanilla flavor. The ingredients for this recipe are quite basic (pictured below): cream, sugar, milk, eggs, vanilla and a vanilla bean. Vanilla beans can be quite pricey but I happened to have one on hand that I have wanted to use for ages!
The recipes supplied in the book are very thorough and if you just follow every word, step-by-step, you will have a wonderful base ready to add to your ice cream maker. For both recipes I have tried so far, I made the cream base on Saturday and then froze the gelato on a Sunday for dessert that night. The vanilla recipe didn’t make nearly as much as I thought it would so I will double that one next time. It only filled up half of my ice cream maker. However, the chocolate recipe filled the entire thing. It should be noted, gelato is a lot more intense in flavor and consistency so you don’t need quite as big of a portion to feel satisfied. Even my husband, who normally eats ice cream out of a large butter, tub only wanted three smallish scoops. Both recipes got rave reviews, even a good one from my mom and she is very hard to please. The end result was well worth the extra effort!
The part of the book I found most helpful was the information provided before you even get to the recipes. The author discusses everything from the percent of cocoa you should have in the chocolate you use to how to temper eggs. He even reviews the different types of ice cream makers available for home use and gives plenty of details about all of the kitchen supplies you will need to make a successful gelato.
In addition to the detailed how-to guides, there are a lot of different recipes available in the book. He even explains the “science” behind making your own recipes so the end result has just the right combination of solids and liquids. I am not ready to venture out and make my own combinations yet, but I am certain I will eventually. I still have a lot of perfectly laid out recipes to follow within the book. Chica is anxiously awaiting the arrival of the caramel gelato!
If you want to wow your guests this summer with a delectable dessert, start making your own gelato. After making your first batch, I guarantee you will be hooked and ready to make many more!