by Liz Krause
If you have ever visited the big city of Rome in Italy, it is likely you have experienced the joy of tasting one of the most favored Italian desserts - Italian gelato. Gelato is the Italian version of our American ice cream. It is difficult to find places which sell Italian gelato, which is why so many people have taken to the task of making their own homemade gelato.
Ice Cream vs. Gelato
Italian gelato is different than American ice cream for a variety of reasons. American ice cream has an airy consistency because it can consist of up to 50% air due to the blending process. However, with Italian gelato the consistency is denser, and has a creamier texture because it has very little air blended in. The less air blended into the ice cream - the denser and creamier the texture.
Some gelato recipes call for yolks while others do not. However, ice cream does use eggs. Another difference is the use of cream vs. milk. Ice cream uses cream, while gelato is made with whole or 2% milk. In some gelato recipes water is used instead of milk. These differences cause gelato to contain less fat and to reduce calories - all the while not sacrificing the quality of a delicious dessert.
Italian gelato can be made two ways. One way is to do most everything by hand, including the mixing in the cooking. Then using an ice cream maker to do the rest. In more recent years companies have developed actual Italian gelato makers which remove much of the labor.
Here is a recipe for chocolate gelato you can use:
6 cups of 2% milk
1 1/2 cups of sugar
12 egg yolks
10 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1. The first step in the process is to combine your egg yolks with the sugar, along with half of the milk.
2. Pour into a large saucepan and heat over low heat making sure to constantly whisk the liquid until it adheres to the whisk slightly.
3. Add in the remaining chocolate and let it melt.
4. Once the chocolate is melted, remove from the heat and slowly add in the remaining milk.
5. Pour the mixture into a bowl and let it chill in the refrigerator.
6. Once it is chilled, pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. This should make approximately 2 1/2 quarts of Italian gelato.
Method Number Two
The second way you can make homemade gelato is to use a gelato machine. The process is much simpler and especially if you find a maker which has a self contained refrigerant. This means you do not have to freeze any bowl or chill the mixture in your refrigerator because everything is done within the machine itself.
With an Italian gelato maker, simply add in all your ingredients into the bowl, cover the lid, and press the start button. It can take up to 25 to 30 minutes for the machine to produce about 1 1/2 quarts of gelato. The downside to these machines, is they often make less than an ice cream maker.
If you ever want to add ingredients such as pieces of chocolate or fruit, you would want to do this towards the end of both methods. For a gelato machine you would add these pieces 5 minutes prior to the end of the mixing process (check with the manual to determine each manufacturer's settings). However, if creating the recipe with an ice cream maker you would want to mix in the chopped ingredients after the mixture has chilled, but prior to freezing.
Learning to make your own homemade gelato allows anyone to enjoy this wonderful Italian dessert any day of the year.
Liz is publisher of a website featuring easy Italian recipes and Italian Kitchenware Reviews. She has a passion for Italian food and cooking. She first experienced gelato while visiting relatives in Rome. Since then, she has enjoyed sharing her new recipes with friends, family and anyone else who wants to get back in the kitchen!