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Gianduja Gelato

From The Perfect Scoop: Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, and Sweet Accompaniments (Ten Speed Press, 2007)

On my first visit to Torino, I arrived in rabid pursuit of qianduja, a confection made from local hazelnuts ground with milk chocolate that is a specialty of the Piedmont region. I’d also never had gianduja gelato at the source. I did not leave disappointed. I watched with anticipation as the gelato maker at Caffe San Carlo smeared dense gelato from his gleaming freezer into a cone. It was hazelnut heaven. Use top-quality milk chocolate with at least 30 percent cocoa solids.

MAKES ABOUT 1 QUART (1 LITER)

l-1/2 cups (185 g) hazelnuts, toasted (see page 13)
1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
2 cups (500 ml) heavy cream
3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
4 ounces (115 g) milk chocolate, finely chopped
5 large egg yolks
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Rub the hazelnuts in a kitchen towel to remove as much of the papery skins as possible, then finely chop them in a food processor or blender.
  2. Warm the milk with 1 cup (250 ml) of the cream, sugar, and salt in a saucepan. Once warm, remove from the heat and add the chopped hazelnuts. Cover and let steep at room temperature for 1 hour.
  3. Put the milk chocolate pieces in a large bowl. Heat the remaining 1 cup (250 ml) cream in a medium saucepan until it just begins to boil. Pour it over the milk chocolate pieces and stir until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Set a mesh strainer over the top.
  4. Pour the hazelnut-infused milk through a strainer into a medium saucepan, squeezing the nuts firmly with your hands to extract as much of the flavorful liquid as possible. Discard the hazelnuts.
  5. Rewarm the hazelnut-infused mixture. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm hazelnut mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
  6. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the milk chocolate mixture. Add the vanilla and stir until cool over an ice bath.
  7. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

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