Monday, March 14, 2011

Tre Gelati Ogni Giorno

When we were last in Italy - sadly that was ten years ago - Jake had a rule: "tre gelati ogni giorno" (three gelati everyday).  No matter where we were, be it bustling Palermo, sleepy Ustica, or my favorite city in the world (Rome), we found a gelateria three times a day, plunked down some lire, and indulged.  My favorite is ficchi (fig); Jake preferred nocciola (hazelnut).

So, when we came home, we hunted high and low for a good gelateria.  You would think with the number of Italian immigrants in this area that someone would be making genuine and delicious gelato.  But if there is one such establishment here, we haven't found it.  Instead I invested in a gelato maker and played with all sorts of recipes.

What we did stumble across on one trip to Berkeley is a teeny tiny ice cream shop whose imaginative flavors always make my head spin.  Thankfully the line is always out the door and I have lots of time to peruse the options.  So, when we were in Berkeley yesterday, we made a stop at Ici and drooled over the options.  I had a scoop of saffron-rose gelato, Riley chose mango-lime sorbet; Dylan ordered the loose-tooth-unfriendly mint-toffee-marshmallow; and Jake opted for an amazing affogato (two scoops of vanilla, floating in a strong espresso, topped with candied orange peel). Yum!

I was inspired.  Here's a basic gelato recipe.  Time to dust off my gelato maker...

2 C whole milk*
1 C organic heavy cream
4 egg yolks
1/2 C organic raw sugar
1.  In a medium saucepan, mix milk and cream. Warm until foam forms around the edges. Remove from heat.

2.  In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar until frothy. Gradually pour the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Return mixture to saucepan; cook over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until the mixture gels slightly and coats the back of the spoon. If small egg lumps begin to show, remove from heat immediately.

3.  Pour the mixture through a sieve or fine strainer into a bowl. Cover, and chill for several hours or overnight.

4.  Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker, and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer to a sealed container, and freeze until firm. If the gelato is too firm, place it in the refrigerator until it reaches the desired consistency.

*To make Jake's beloved nocciola, I toast and skin 2 C of hazelnuts.  Finely chop the nuts and let them sit in the milk overnight; that's enough to impart an unmistakable hazelnut flavor!  Strain the nuts out and use the infused milk as directed above.

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