I first experienced gelato just as it should be experienced -- in a small, bustling Italian village, just as the sun was setting, and the after-dinner crowd was meandering around town. We had just played a band concert in the park, and it seemed as though everyone in town was milling about, although the only shops that were open were selling food.
I was craving ice cream, and gelato looked close enough to fit the bill. And, of course, I chose chocolate. And it was fantastic. Maybe it was the atmosphere, maybe I've built up that memory, but I couldn't get over how smooth and intense the flavor was.
This is an adaptation of a recipe I saw in Food Network magazine, and what's interesting about it is that there's no cream or milk in this recipe, beyond the milk content in the chocolate. I'm no Alton Brown, so I have no idea how this recipe still works out. But it does. Even thought it's basically sugar, water, chocolate, and Dutch process cocoa powder (which is prohibitively expensive 'round these parts, just FYI).
My taste testers for this recipe were two gelato newbies:
And what did they think?
Taster #1 said: "I really like the texture. And it's got a flavor kind of like tootsie rolls. Did I get any in my mustache?" OK, so my brother didn't really say that last part. Because he doesn't really have a mustache.
Taster #2 said: "It's cold! More, please."
They clearly have very sophisticated palates.
Makes 6-8 servings
8 ounces milk chocolate (I used Cadbury, which is my favorite)
1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
2 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8-1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Finely chop chocolate.
2. Place chocolate and cocoa in a blender.
3. Bring water and sugar to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.
4. Pour sugar water in blender. Cover and pulse 4-5 times, until mixture is smooth, but not foamy. Add extracts and salt, and pulse once more to combine. Transfer mixture to a bowl.
5. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours, or until very cold.
6. Whisk the chocolate mixture before transferring to an ice cream maker, according to manufacturer's directions. (Mine had to process about 20 minutes.)
7. Transfer to a container.
8. Freeze at least 2 hours before serving.