Birthday Gelato: Vanilla and Hazelnuts

I decided a few days ago that gelato would be a fun birthday treat. I decided on vanilla with hazelnut chocolate spread and chopped hazelnuts.

I have made Hazelnut Gelato before (recipe here) and it’s yummy. But I wanted guests to have the option of plain gelato, a variety of chopped nuts, chocolate sauce and the hazelnut spread.

The key to a great vanilla ice cream or gelato is using the best vanilla extract you can find, or really splurge and use vanilla beans.

This is the base for all gelato:

Gelato di Crema (Gelato Plain Base)

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 large egg yolk
  • 2/3 cup sugar

In a heavy-bottom saucepan, combine the milk and cream. Place over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally so a skin doesn’t form, until tiny bubbles start to form around the edges and the mixture reaches a temperature of 170°F.

Meanwhile, in a medium heat-proof bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth. Gradually whisk in the sugar until it is well incorporated and the mixture is thick and pale yellow. Temper* the egg yolks by very slowly pouring in the hot milk mixture while whisking continuously. Return the custard to the saucepan and place over low heat. Cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and it reaches a temperature of 185°F. Do not bring to a boil.

*The best way to temper is to add a tablespoon at a time until you’ve added about 1/4 cup. Then you can add a full ladle at a time, slowly.

For Vanilla Gelato:  Just before freezing the gelato,  mix in the vanilla and then add to the ice cream freezer.  Use 2-3 teaspoons of vanilla extract depending on how intense you like your vanilla flavor.

One final note. If you’re wondering what the difference is between Gelato, Sorbet and Ice Cream, click here for a pretty good explanation.

Do you know what you have now? Four egg whites. And what can you do with those? Why not make some gluten-free Chocolate-Walnut Cookies?