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
A smooth and velvety chocolate gelato with clean chocolate flavor.
25 minPrep Time
2 hr, 25 Total Time
- 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
- Half fill a large bowl with cold water. Add a few handfuls of ice cubes. Set ice bath aside.
- 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.
- In a saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer over medium heat.
- 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.
- 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.
- Slowly strain the hot mixture over the reserved melted chocolate. Whisk until the chocolate is completely incorporated and smooth then add the vanilla.
- 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.)
- 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.