Gelato And A Dozen Tips for Gelato Success

Gelato

  Gelato is ice cream without the cream—just whole milk and egg yolks. In fact, it’s dense and smooth because of what it doesn’t have: cream and egg whites. These readily whip up when beaten; they even turn airy when just stirred repeatedly. Egg yolks? Far less so—unless they’re part of a custard base as it begins to freeze in your ice cream machine. As it does, the yolks trap a tiny bit of air between their crowded cell walls—and voilà, the difference: a denser consistency, creamier despite the lack of cream.
Gelato And A Dozen Tips for Gelato Success

  What else is missing in gelati (that is, the plural of gelato)? Thickeners like flour, cornstarch, or gelatin. They’re often necessary in standard ice cream because of the inclusion of those loosy-goosy egg whites and the relatively small ratio of egg yolks to sugar. Gelato, rich in eggyolk protein, needs no such help.

  Gelato begins with an egg custard—a sugary mixture that’s cooked until the proteins build a coherent structure among the components. Technically speaking, then, gelato is frozen custard. But it’s not necessarily American-style frozen custard, which has plenty of whole eggs, not just the yolks.

  More often than not, American-style frozen custard also contains cream. In fact, much of what’s sold as gelato in North America has a high cream content, sometimes even higher than standard ice cream. We suspect that’s because egg yolks are high-priced and cholesterol-rich. If we were to cut the egg yolks in half in our gelati recipes and replace what’s missing with cream, we’d end up with a lower-cholesterol product, but it wouldn’t be Italian gelato. It would be some strange hybrid, an ice cream with more egg yolks.

  Still and all, the gelati in this book do indeed contain a little cream. Here’s why—the whole milk sold in the United States is not as rich as that sold in Italy. Ours has just over 3 percent butterfat, sometimes a smidge more in states like California that legislate a slightly higher fat content. By contrast, Italian whole milk has around 3.7 percent butterfat. That may well be the lowest in the European Union—France’s runs around 4.1 percent; Denmark’s, more than 4.3 percent—but the difference matters a great deal. So homemade gelato made with U.S. whole milk needs a “fat compensation” for that real Italian taste—thus, the addition of a small amount of cream.

  But egg whites and cream are minor concerns when compared with something as seemingly innocuous as air. Gelato is supposed to be dense, exceptionally so. Too much air beaten into the custard must surely be the gravest of culinary indiscretions.

  How do you know how much air has gotten into a frozen custard? Simply measure the volume of custard you put into the machine, then measure the volume of gelato that comes out. In professional parlance, the difference is expressed as a percentage increase and called the “overrun” (that is, the amount over and above the original base).

  Most commercial ice cream has a 100 percent overrun. It’s half air; for each tablespoon of base put into the machine, two tablespoons come out. Premium ice cream has an overrun below 33 percent; super premium, sold strictly in pints, around 20 percent. But gelato has still less—traditionally, under 10 percent, often as little as 2 percent. In other words, if you put 4 cups (1 quart) of custard into your machine, you should end up with no more than 41⁄3 cups gelato (about an 8 percent overrun)—although ideally you should end up with just slightly more than 1 quart, maybe even just 1 tablespoon more.

  The point is this: you want the least amount of air in the custard. To that end, we have some tips for making authentic gelato every time.

A Dozen Tips for Gelato Success :

1- Start with the best ingredients you can comfortably afford. Use high-quality chocolate, fresh eggs and milk, real vanilla and other extracts. If the fruit you buy has no smell, it will probably have no taste.

2- Let the milk and egg yolks sit for 10 minutes at room temperature before you begin. Cold ingredients will slow down the cooking—and thus more air will get into the custard as you stir endlessly, waiting for the mixture to heat up and thicken.

3- If possible, make the custard with a whisk, preferably a balloon whisk. Although you can use an electric mixer, it will definitely get more air into the custard and the resulting gelato will not be as dense as the hand-whisked variety.

4- All these recipes make about 1 quart of gelato. To make a half-gallon for a traditional bucket-churning maker or one of the new frozen dessert machines, double the recipe and adjust the heating times (i.e., add a few minutes for the custard to thicken).

5-  As you heat the combined eggs and milk, work over low heat so as not to scramble the eggs; stir constantly to allow for even coagulation. Cook the custard until it coats the back of a wooden spoon—a funny-sounding step, but essential. Stir well with a wooden spoon, then run your finger across its back. The line should be firm—no running liquid or sagging custard at its margins. It all happens relatively quickly, but you can even cook the custard a minute or two longer. The longer you heat the mixture, the eggier it will taste.
If you heat the custard until it’s foamy, just seconds before the eggs scramble, you’ll have very eggy gelato—to some people’s taste, but not to others’.

6- Strain the custard through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any unwanted bits of scrambled eggs that inadvertently make their way into the custard. A conical chinoise works best, but you can also line a colander with cheesecloth.

7- Refrigerate the custard before you freeze it, for at least 4 hours, or overnight. Once the warmed custard has cooled, cover the bowl with plastic wrap to protect the mixture from any refrigerator odors.

8-Just before you freeze the custard in your ice cream machine, place it in your freezer for 10 minutes. Shocking the custard with a final chill will safeguard against air getting into the gelato as the machine churns it.
9- Always transfer the frozen gelato from your ice cream machine to a separate container before storing it in your refrigerator’s freezer. You can damage your machine’s container or its nonstick surface if you try to dig hardened gelato out of it.

10. Gelato tastes best at slightly above its freezing point (which varies dramatically based on the sugars and salt in the custard). When the gelato is soft, the intense flavors and aromas have a chance to volatilize out of icy suspension. The best way to eat gelato is straight out of the machine. If, however, you’ve stored it in the freezer, always leave it out on the counter for 10 minutes before serving.

11. Refreezing is the surest way to end up with icy gelato. Consider storing gelato in smaller containers, even individual-serving ones.

12. Finally, what’s a cook to do with all those leftover egg whites? Place them in an airtight container and freeze for up to 6 months; defrost overnight in the refrigerator and use in egg-white omelets, meringue cookies, or an angel-food cake.

About Mix-Ins :

In many of the variations, we offer ways to customize the gelato by your adding some chopped nuts, chocolate chips, or the like, just before the gelato firms up. If you’re working with a smaller, countertop machine, let the dasher give the mix-ins a few turns just before the gelato is ready to serve. For old-fashioned canister machines, first take off the motor housing—then either add the mix-ins, remount the motor, and let the machine go a few more turns; or stir in the mix-ins by hand, using the dasher as a large spatula. For frozen dessert machines that dispense gelato through a pull-handle, proceed in one of two ways. Stir the mix-ins into the chilled custard before adding it to the machine, letting the gelato then freeze as directed; to serve, remove the dispenser housing and scoop out the gelato. Or forgo adding the mix-ins until the very end—open the dispenser nozzle and let the gelato fall into a storage container; as it does so, crumble in the additions in a steady, slow stream, layering them into the gelato.

Other recipes Desserts : Here
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