Even though gelato is a semi-soft ice cream, many types of gelato are made without dairy. This chocolate gelato, which I had at a cafe on the Amalfi Coast, is one of those and I absolutely love the combination of hazelnuts and dark chocolate. It’s based on a Sicilian style of gelato that uses corn starch as the thickener for the ice cream instead of eggs. Not only is it vegan, but using corn starch instead of eggs allows the chocolate flavor to shine through even stronger. Yum!
One of the big differences between gelato and ice cream is that gelato is softer because it is held at a higher temperature than ice cream. Don’t let your gelato freeze completely before serving, but if you have to freeze it, let it thaw for about 10 minutes outside the refrigerator, then stir everything together to get that extra creamy gelato texture.
½ cup hazelnuts, soaked for at least 6 hours
2 cups of almond milk
½ cup of sugar
1/8 teaspoon of salt
6 ounces of dark chocolate
2 tablespoons of corn starch combined with 2 tablespoons of almond milk
Drain the hazelnuts and puree them with 1 cup of the almond milk. Once the mix is smooth, add the second cup of almond milk, sugar, and salt and blend the mix until smooth. Melt the dark chocolate over a double boiler, stirring it slowly while it melts. While the chocolate is melting, warm the almond milk-hazelnut mix in a small pot over medium heat until it is steaming, but not boiling. Add the corn starch solution and quickly whisk this. Keep it steaming for about 2 to 3 minutes, then stir in the dark chocolate.
“Both the hazelnuts and the cornstarch serve to thicken and bind the gelato together.”
Either churn this in an ice cream machine or place it in a bucket and then transfer it to your freezer. If you do the bucket and freezer method, stir the gelato with a fork every 45 minutes to keep large ice crystals from forming.
“If you fall in love with making gelato, it’s totally worth the money to get a good ice cream maker. You don’t need a great one, but a good one is totally worth spending an extra few dollars to avoid the frustration of using a cheap one.”
Ice Cream Maker