Chocolate Gelato

A homemade chocolate gelato with a smooth, velvety and pure chocolate flavor.

Sometimes a food will haunt me, and I can do nothing except think about it, talk about it, and dream about it until I have uncovered it’s secrets.

It all began with a few innocent ingredients; chocolate, milk and sugar.  I was longing for chocolate gelato; intense, luscious and rich.  The thought of a melting spoonful on my tongue, and I was a lost cause, enough so to send me into mad quest to capture the beguiling qualities of this dense and creamy Italian favorite.

Gelato is generally differentiated from ice cream by its creamy, supple texture and it’s intense flavor; like smooth cold fudge that slowly dissolves in the mouth. And despite its richness, it doesn’t coat your tongue the way premium ice creams do.

Both ice cream and gelato are emulsions of air, fat, sugar and water.  What makes one different from the other is often the proportion of these ingredients.

Homemade ice cream is often made with heavy cream and a large quantity of egg yolks to improve body and texture by inhibiting the formation of ice crystals as it’s churned, resulting in a creamy texture.  The high percentage of fat from the dairy however can coat the taste buds and dull perceptions of flavor, while the large amount of egg yolks can give an unwanted underlying eggy flavor to the custard.

Sicilian style gelato recipes on the other hand, contain neither cream nor egg and are made from a base of milk, sugar and cornstarch, resulting in a gelato that is lighter and more intensely flavored but that can sometimes be gummy and chalky from using cornstarch as a primary thickener.

I wanted to create a homemade gelato that would be smooth and velvety with clean chocolate flavor.

I started with the chocolate: I used a combination of both cocoa powder and bittersweet chocolate to insure an intense and complex chocolate flavor.  The combination of bittersweet chocolate with it’s high percentage of cocoa butter helped with the denseness of the gelato, and the cocoa powder with the depth and intensity of flavor.

Next was dairy:  I chose to use whole milk instead of heavy cream or a combination of heavy cream and milk to keep the percentage of fat down so as not to dull the flavor of the chocolate.

Lastly as a thickener, I used egg yolks in conjunction with cornstarch to mimic the luxurious mouth-feel of ice creams (without the coating that dulls your palate) and the dense texture of gelato.

The result: gelato success,  fudgy, velvety and bright with chocolate flavor; like bliss in spoonable form.

What’s your chocolate bliss?

Serves Serves 6 to 8

Chocolate Gelato Recipe

A smooth and velvety chocolate gelato with clean chocolate flavor.

25 minPrep Time

2 hr, 25 Total Time

Save Recipe


  • 4 ounces (112g) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3 cups (750ml) organic whole milk
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated organic cane sugar
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ½ cup (50 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ TB (15g) cornstarch or arrowroot powder
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract


  1. Half fill a large bowl with cold water. Add a few handfuls of ice cubes. Set ice bath aside.
  2. Place the chopped chocolate in a large bowl and melt over a double boiler or in the microwave, stir until smooth. Set a fine-mesh strainer over the bowl and set aside.
  3. In a saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer over medium heat.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk the yolks, the sugar and salt until it thick and slightly paler in color. Sift in the cocoa powder and cornstarch and whisk until a paste forms.
  5. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle half of the hot milk into the cocoa mixture, and whisk until smooth. Return the mixture to the saucepan, whisk to combine and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon (about 5 minutes), do not boil.
  6. Slowly strain the hot mixture over the reserved melted chocolate. Whisk until the chocolate is completely incorporated and smooth then add the vanilla.
  7. Place the bowl in the larger bowl of ice water and stir the mixture occasionally to prevent a skin from forming, then cover the surface with wax paper, and store covered in the refrigerator overnight or for up to 1 day before churning. (The mix is best if it is aged (stored in the refrigerator) overnight. This resting period improves the churning qualities of the mix and improves the body and texture of the gelato.)
  8. Freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker. Transfer to an air-tight container and freeze for at least 2 hours before serving. Let soften for about 5 minutes before serving.


Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Vegetarian


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  1. says

    Great explanation of the difference between gelato and normal ice cream. I never knew to be honest! My chocolate bliss…well anything chocolate would be bliss. I recently made a molten chocolate lava cake…now that was intense and blissful. I love the pictures as usual!

  2. says

    My choc bliss? Any form of hot chocolate. A fondue, a molten cake, a hot choc sauce. For that matter any kind and form of chocolate can take me to heaven. The only problem is its never enough. Just never enough. In each form and shape, chocolate is divine.Am I blabbering? Well your gelato did that. I generally go to my fav gelato place for my fix and have not tried it at home but have been planning to buy an icecream maker forever!

  3. says

    You’ve posted this on perfect time! We’re experiencing scorching and hot days here. Your pics are cool…cool! 🙂 I’ve just finished my dinner and now I’m salivating for this gelato!

  4. says

    Seriously amazing. I am just blown away by your talent… as a photographer AND a chef!!! I would love to make this. Better yet, I would love for YOU to make this and me come over for a visit! 🙂

  5. Jim Bauer says

    I am definitely going to try your recipe, The coating you describe is not pleasant. So far everything we have tried has had a coating not only on the tong bet the spoon as well. Love your fine pictures.

  6. says

    Thanks for the gelato/ice cream explanation – now at last it makes sense! Agree that too much fat can leave your tongue coated and senses of taste dulled… but not with THIS baby! Spectacular photographs – and I KNOW how hard it is to photograph frozen desserts ;o)

  7. says

    I heart Gelato Sylvie. Was in Rome last year in the summer & nothing made the day more blissfull than walking the cobbled streets sampling all the different flavours. My all time fav most definitely was the dark chocolate gelato. Never really attempted to make it. But looking at your recipe I think I just might x

  8. says

    We hooked to gelato, period. Ever since we discovered an Italian gelato place, we almost do not eat ice cream. The light fluffy feel of gelato beats every other ice cream. (I do not use egg for my gelatos when i make them at home.) Gosh Sylvie your photographs almost make me touch the screen to feel the gelato!

  9. says

    Beautiful post as usual Sylvie. It’s good you are bringing up the point of gelato vs. ice cream mid winter as I planned to make a cardamon gelato and put to a good use my ice cream maker. Last summer I experimented quite a bit with ice cream, gelato and sorbet and came to the conclusion that 5% whole milk does not sound so bad after reading fat content on the cream. I don’t know if I will ever bring myself to make ice cream again but definitely see much more gelato in my future. Thanks again for sharing your results and enjoy some warm weather for us here east coasters.

  10. Lora @cakeduchess says

    I love your in depth description of gelato. I didn’t realize that about Sicilian gelato and I grew up on it. Your gelato does look like velvet and has given me a mad craving for a bowl:) Stunning.

  11. says

    Sylvie I can’t being to explain how blown away I am by your pictures — I love your use of light to bring out the contrast in your dishes and ingredients. This chocolate gelato recipe looks divine, once the ice clears in Dallas I’m off to the store to grab the ingredients. I’ve been dying to make chocolate gelato for awhile 🙂

  12. says

    I never really understood a difference between gelato and ice cream. You have explained it wonderfully, thank you! I’m not a big fan of chocolate flavoured ice cream, however your photos make it look so divine that I would love to lick the spoon in the last picture! Your photos are real food porn! 🙂

  13. says

    When I saw a new photo on flickr I thought a new post must be in the works – I’m so glad I was right! I didn’t know the difference between ice cream and gelato but I’m lactose intolerant and have always been able to eat gelato if I take a Lactaid pill. Ice Cream… can’t touch it at all. I wonder if it’s because one is made with milk and one cream.

  14. says

    I swear – not 10 minutes before reading this post, I had a sudden craving for chocolate icecream. I don’t eat icecream very often and rarely eat chocolate! Needless to say, I want some even more now. 🙂 Great information too. x

  15. says

    Over the holidays, Williams-Sonoma bribed us into their store THREE days in a row with their “daily deals.” On the third day…. it was because they were selling an ice cream maker (with second freezer container) for $39.99. I thought it was a steal and SWORE to the husband that I’d “make good use of this.”

    Well… it’s 2/1, and I still haven’t taken it out of the box.

    Chocolate happens to be a weakness for Mr. RGBistro. Your beautiful post reminds me that I ought to make good on my promise and make the man some gelato.

    Will report back if I do!

    Happy week,


  16. says

    I *just* bought an icecream maker that should be arriving very soon 🙂 I can’t wait to make gelato and I think I will be using this very recipe. Great post – so informative – and beautiful photography, comme d’habitude!

  17. says

    Chocolate is not my favourite flavor (yes, i know), but you have explained it so well Sylvie….
    Loved the pictures, gorgeous as always especially the last spoon!

  18. says

    My Chocolate bliss?Its dark chocolate bar with candied orange peel.I cant have enough of it.Yours is a lovely and vivid post on your chocolate love.Enjoyed reading it so much.I love hazelnut & choco gelato topped with praline.

  19. says

    There’s nothing like the perfect gelato (and I must say, chocolate is my favorite). Love your use of cocoa powder to really boost the depth of flavor here – I would have never thought to do so!

  20. says

    I love your post describing your adventure to satisfy your taste buds and your explanation of the difference between ice cream and gelato, but your photos are amazing and literally make me want to lick the screen! I’m bookmarking this recipe to try later!

  21. says

    Velvety, chocolatey heaven. Yum. I wish I could be spoon-fed some right now. Your photos are so wonderful. They capture the gelato so vividly.

  22. says

    Oh Sylvie, that looks like heaven! We just made chocolate frozen custard that I’m going to post about in another week. I was amazed at just how many eggs it took to create the texture I was looking for. This is definitely lighter. I bet I’d feel less guilty eating yours!

  23. says

    Bookmarked. This is pure bliss. I have some wonderful single origin deep couverture chocolate I just ordered online. Will save it up for this. Gorgeous!

  24. says

    Wow all these years I’ve been making gelato and never realized. I prefer a cornstarch based ice-cream to the ones that use eggs. Here in the Caribbean arrowroot is the preferred thickener. Combining both the eggs and the cornstarch has me very intrigued…gosh and that last spoonful does look sooo fudgy. Yum

  25. says

    I never knew that cornstarch was the traditional thickener in gelato. Sounds like you found the perfect balance for amazing texture and flavor. I could dive right into these beautiful photos. xo

  26. says

    Sylvie, this is my kind of gelato. I’m so glad you shared the difference between ice cream and gelato because I think some people consider them to be one and the same. I prefer gelatos myself but I’m also new to gelato/ice cream making and I’ve been curious about using corn starch as a thickener. I will borrow this recipe for sure. Less eggs and cream in a frozen treat is most welcome in my house! 🙂

  27. says

    Wow! Stunning, stunning photos that show the fabulous texture of this perfect gelato! And mmmmmm chocolate! It looks so wonderful and I love the recipe. I am definitely making this following your beautiful recipe! Another wonderful post filled with gorgeous photos, Sylvie!

  28. says

    I can’t wait to make gelato now! I didn’t know the differences between it and ice cream, but it certainly sounds and looks superior to the two. I need to make this with the ice cream maker that’s been collecting dust in my pantry. Sylvie – stunning post…I just luv your writing and presentation style.

  29. says

    Sylvie, this gelato is just stunning, as are your photos. I remember my very first chocolate gelato, which was in Italy, and it just melted in my mouth. I would love to try making it at home someday. Thank you for sharing this great recipe and inspiring me! I’m so glad to have found your blog.

  30. says

    This is such a swoon-worthy recipe, Sylvie, and I am absolutely thrilled to have found it. In addition, so many of my questions have been answered by this very informative post. Your innovation of essentially applying the best qualities of ice cream and gelato to a single dish is a brilliant idea and one I definitely intend to try.

  31. says

    I am a huge ice cream fan and usually prefer ice cream over gelato but not after reading this. I seriously want to lick my screen. This is a recipe to try!

  32. says

    Gorgeous! I would hang these photos in my house…no question! I love gelato but have never tried making my own. There’s this great place in Chicago that makes amazing gelato in interesting flavors — the goat cheese cashew caramel is my favorite. Yum! Great post as always.

  33. says

    Now that’s my kind of dessert! Love, love, looove chocolate gelato. If you’re looking for a less chalky texture, you could also replace the cornstarch by a combination of lecithin and xanthan gum; it works wonders :-Þ

  34. says

    Your photos are absolutely stunning!! My daughter has been asking for gelato, she recently discovered what it is, but I haven’t really had a good recipe. If I can make it half as good as yours it will be a winner!

  35. says

    So I made this recipe this weekend and it is to die for! That is the best i’ve made so far… and I’ve been experimenting with ‘ice cream’ recipes for about 8 months now. I’m thinking I add Cayenne Pepper to my next batch for a little spicy kick! Thanks for sharing your recipe… it was really delicious!

  36. says

    Sylvie, your photography is stunning – brings this gelato up close! My kids love gelato but I’ve never tried making it, so thanks for figuring this one out!