When I was in college a gelateria opened up on my route back to my apartment from campus. Needless to say, I frequented it more often than I should have. They had a wide variety of flavors, and I enjoyed sampling as many as possible. Despite delighting in the variety of flavors, the vast majority of the time I chose to have a double scoop: one of Nutella and one of dark chocolate. I felt like the dark chocolate perfectly cut the sweetness of the nutella. It was such a wonderful combination. In the years that have passed, Nutella ice cream fell off of my radar for no good reason. Maybe the ice cream wasn’t as good as the place near campus? Maybe I decided to branch out and order different flavors? It’s a mystery! Luckily, I grabbed my copy of The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz and just happened to flip to the page with the Gianduja Gelato. It looked so perfect and sounded so delicious, I knew the next ice cream I was going to make.
I should add that making ice cream has gotten even better and better lately. For Christmas, the Lion got me the most incredible ice cream maker and it has totally revolutionized my ice cream making process. It has built in coolant, thus doesn’t need to be frozen in advance. The churning bowl is removable and washable, so one could theoretically make batch after batch of delicious cold treats. It is fully automated and even delivers a friendly “ding!” when the ice cream is cold enough to handle add ins without them dropping to the bottom. You can even set how firm you want the ice cream to be! It’s astounding.* The Lion had previously gotten me the KitchenAid ice cream maker as a wedding gift and I absolutely loved it too. But there is something so special about being able to make ice cream on the fly that I really enjoy! This ice cream is the first custard ice cream I’ve posted on the blog, as the previous ones were not egg based. The texture on this ice cream is wonderful. It’s firm, yet creamy, has a slight chew but melts beautiful. It’s a bit labor intensive but the process flows smoothly and the end results is certainly worth it.
A hot milk and cream mixture are heated together while the hazelnuts toast and become fragrant in the oven. Once the hazelnuts are perfectly toasted, the skins can be removed by rubbing them between a kitchen towel. The nuts are chopped and added to the hot milk and cream and allowed to steep so all of the wonderful flavors can be absorbed. That mix is strained and reheated before tempering the egg yolks to make the custard base. The milk chocolate is chopped and hot cream is used to melt it. The hazelnut custard and milk chocolate are stirred together and ultimately churned. The most fun for me was the dark chocolate flakes. I had so much fun, I forgot to take pictures! It was so easy, too. When the ice cream is almost set, the dark chocolate is melted and slowly drizzled in while the maker is still running. This is what creates the little flakes. In Italian, this is called stracciatella, which is probably a flavor you’ve seen at a gelateria! I used a bittersweet chocolate and when that was paired with the very sweet milk chocolate hazelnut ice cream, it was the perfect foil and made the ice cream even more delicious and addictive!
I’ve always been a bit confused as to the difference between gelato and ice cream. According to Harold McGee, gelato is a style of custard (egg-based) ice cream that usually has high butterfat and is churned in a special process to produce very little overrun. Overrun is the percentage of air that gets beaten into the ice cream as a result of the churning process. This is what ultimately gives gelato its heft and chew. I chose to call this ice cream rather than gelato, as I decreased the amount of cream and wasn’t using a gelato machine. One of the most magical things to me about making a custard is how it goes from a very liquid blend of milk, cream, and eggs, so something that becomes thick and rich. Naturally, I had to investigate and once again turned to Harold McGee! The simple concept for how eggs cook and change their shape, structure, and texture is that adding heat to them causes the protein molecules to move very rapidly which causes them to bond together and become thicker and create a contiguous network. Egg yolk starts to thicken at 150F and sets up at 158F. So why aren’t custards totally solid and crumbly like a hard boiled egg? That is due to the milk and cream. These dilutes the egg proteins and creates a more open, loose network that creates the thick silkiness that makes custards so unctuous! I hope that explanation whets your appetite and helps to explain the magic of custards. Now go make this ice cream, and I truly hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Flakes
|Prep:||Cook:||Yield: 1 qt ice cream||Total:|
A delicious sweet milk chocolate hazelnut ice cream with dark chocolate flakes
- 185 g (1 1/2 cups) Hazelnuts
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, divided
- 150 g (3/4 cup) sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 4 oz milk chocolate, finely chopped
- 5 egg yolks
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 5 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- Heat the oven to 325F. Spread the hazelnuts on a single layer on a baking sheet. Place into the oven once at temperature and toast for about 15 minutes, giving the nuts a jostle every 5 minutes or so. Remove once they are slightly golden and aromatic. Be very careful to not let them burn.
- Let them cool for a few minutes and rub between a kitchen towel to remove as much of the skin as possible. It's okay if there is still some left. Place into a food processor and finely chop.
- Heat all of the milk, 1/2 cup of the cream, sugar, and salt in a saucepan, until very warm and steamy. Add the hazelnuts. Cover and let steep for an hour.
- When it's been about 45-50 minutes into the steeping, heat the remaining 1 cup of cream until bubbles form along the edges. Place the finely chopped milk chocolate in a heat proof bowl and pour the hot cream over and stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth and creamy. Set aside.
- Strain the hazelnut mixture with a fine mesh strainer into a bowl or a measuring cup and be sure to push down on the nuts to extract as much of the milk as possible. Wipe out the saucepan to remove any chunks of hazelnut, and return to the stove. Save the hazelnuts for another use (see notes below).
- Pour the hazelnut infused milk back into the saucepan and heat until steamy and warm. Whisk the egg yolks together in a separate, heat proof bowl. Slowly pour in 1 ladleful of the hazelnut infused milk into the egg yolks, whisking the whole time. Repeat this process until you've used up half of the hazelnut infused milk. Then slowly pour in the remaining amount, whisking continuously. Return the hazelnut infused millk-egg mixture to the saucepan.
- Place the saucepan over medium heat and stir continuously with a spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir. Stir until the mix thickens and coats the back of your spatula. A good way to test for this is to run your finger across the spatula and ensure that the line left by your finger holds well.
- When the hazelnut custard is sufficiently thick, place a fine mesh strainer over the bowl with the chocolate. Pour the hazelnut custard into the melted chocolate and stir to thoroughly combine. You use the fine mesh strainer to catch any egg particles that may have accidentally overcooked. Chill this mixture thoroughly, either using an ice bath or leave in the refrigerator overnight. The goal temperature is less than 40F.
- When the chocolate hazelnut custard is thoroughly chilled, free according to the instructions on your ice cream maker. This is the ice cream maker that I use. When it starts to look like your ice cream is close to setting up, melt the dark chocolate. I melted mine in a glass measuring cup in the microwave by setting it at half power and checking its status every 15 seconds. It ended up taking about 1 minute and 15 seconds but this will vary from microwave to microwave. Once the chocolate is melted, slowly drizzle in a thin stream with the ice cream maker running. This is what creates the flakes. Once all of the chocolate is drizzled in, finish the ice cream until it is as set as it can be in your ice cream maker.
- Quickly transfer to a freezer safe container and freeze. Enjoy!
Don't throw away the leftover steeped hazelnuts! They are sweet and delicious. Transfer them to a container and place in the refrigerator to use in a variety of ways. I used mine to make some delicious granola. I think they would also be delicious in a crumble topping, cooked into some baked treats, or stirred into yogurt in the morning!
*While I am not getting paid by the ice cream maker manufacturers, if you do decide to purchase any of the products I will get a small commission through Amazon.