So, we’re only 25 days into the New Year and my “be fun and try something different” initiative for 2015 is already giving me fits.
In the spirit of being bold and taking risks, I decided to try my hand at gelato this week, which much like frozen yogurt, is something that I previously knew little about.
Sadly, it was sort of a disaster from the start (not a real disaster obviously; but more of the first world, “this gelato strategy for my ice cream blog isn’t quite working out” variety).
First, after a little research, I realized that you can’t really make proper gelato at home; you need a gelato machine. Apparently commercialized gelato machines incorporate less air while churning than a traditional at-home ice cream maker, which is how gelato gets that special dense mouth feel that we all love. Needless to say, this news poked a hole in my optimism, but didn’t completely burst my bubble. So, I forged ahead.
Because this gelato business is foreign territory, and I wasn’t sure where to start, I consulted my most trusted culinary advisor and friend, David Lebovitz.
(Note: he’s not actually my friend…in real life. Although I wish he were, as he’s sort of my food idol. Like, do you ever daydream that you’re a famous celebrity getting interviewed by The New York Times and they ask you, “if you could trade places with anyone for one day, who would it be?” He’d totally be my answer to that question. Additional note: I’m not actually a stalker. I just sometimes play one on my blog).
In his book, The Perfect Scoop, Mr. Lebovitz has a recipe for milk chocolate hazelnut gelato that I’ve been jonesing to make for quite some time now. I decided that this would be the perfect ocassion to give it the ol’ college try.
Little did I know, that two hours later I’d be on a wild goose chase for hazelnuts. Apparently, when you live in The Middle of Nowhere, Ohio, it can be difficult to find a nut that isn’t of the Almond or Peanut variety. I ended up going to a specialty store, which had them in bulk for…get ready for it..ready for it…$20 bucks a pound. Is this normal? Am I the only person who didn’t know this about hazelnuts? I was flabbergasted, especially since Nutella’s only like $3.99 or so at Target (Is Nutella a suitable substitute for hazelnuts? Is there some way to extract the nut back out? Just curious).
While Single Lindsay would have loved to spend an exorbitant amount of money on some filberts, Married and Saving for a House Lindsay didn’t feel it would be prudent to move forward with the hazelnut gelato plan when surrounded by so many other, delicious, cheaper options.
Plan B? We had some bananas rotting on the counter and I suddenly remembered how much I love banana gelato. We don’t have access to much gelato in these parts of Ohio, but when traveling, my go-to strategy is always one scoop of banana and one scoop of dark chocolate, mixed together. But because this is the blog, and I need people to think I’m fancy, I decided to make banana stracciatella…which in my simpleton mind, is really just banana chocolate chip 🙂
I set to work, and the house filled with the most wonderful aroma of sweet, banana-y, perfection. Feeling confident, I walked away for two minutes, and upon my return, realized that the color of the mixture had turned slightly grayish and unappetizing. Another setback.
I was disappointed, because in my head I was imagining that my gelato should have a pastel yellow tint, no doubt the result of years of consuming commercialized banana desserts. I told myself, “NO, Lindsay. You’re smarter than this. You know what this is? This is Big Food wanting you to think that banana gelato should be yellow. And it’s NOT YELLOW its sort of dull and grayish and that’s what color Mother Nature wants your gelato to be!”
So once again, I pressed onward, but later my spirits fell when I attempted the stracciatella effect and it wasn’t quite as lovely as I thought it should be. At this point, my bubble had almost completely burst, but then I tasted my creation and oh.my.gosh. was it tasty! What it lacked in the looks department, it certainly did make up for in personality: it wasn’t too sweet, but wasn’t too banana-y either (I didn’t feel like I was eating a frozen smoothie). Just the confidence booster I needed!
I was feeling a lot better about my adventure, until I realized that I had proceeded to eat so much of the gelato that I barely had enough left for the photos. Needless to say, I had to get creative (Enter 3 week old frozen waffles from the back of my freezer).
Things went from bad to worse when I started my photoshoot. The natural darkness of Ohio in January isn’t exactly ideal lighting for food photography, and my camera started having a hissy fit (or more accurately, I was having a hissy fit).
Long story short (or maybe not-so-short), I’m posting these pics, knowing they aren’t my best, but I’m going to love them anyways. Because when you’re trying new things, it’s not always perfect – and I wanted this blog to be about failures and successes, not just the latter…because that’s neither genuine nor relatable. Or as my favorite coworker often says, “that’s not real life.”
I love you, banana gelato. Even if you’re not perfect.
My friends, be bold and make gelato. Er, faux gelato. Well whatever this is, it’s delicious 🙂
Banana Stracciatella Gelato
Yield: Scant 1 Quart
You will need:
- 2 cups whole milk
- 3 ripe bananas, sliced into 1 inch medallions
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- pinch of kosher salt
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the stracciatella:
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 4 ounces dark chocolate
1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine milk, bananas, brown sugar, and salt until the mixture begins to bubble. Cover, turn off heat, and let sit for about 10 minutes.
2. While the banana mixture is doing its thing, combine egg yolks and sugar in a medium sized bowl, whisking vigorously until frothy and thick. Set aside.
3. Place milk and banana mixture in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth, then return to heat. Once mixture is heated through and begins to steam, start adding small amounts to your eggs, whisking as you go to ensure the eggs don’t scramble. Once all of the milk has been incorporated to the eggs, add everything back into the pan. Cook over medium heat until mixture thickens, about 10 minutes.
4. Run gelato base through a strainer and into a bowl or storage container. Add the heavy cream and vanilla and stir to combine, then refrigerate for a few hours (or ideally, overnight).
5. Freeze mixture according to manufacturer’s instructions. In the meantime, melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave in 15 second increments until melted. Place in a plastic baggie, and cut a very small hole in the corner. For the stracciatella effect, drizzle the melted chocolate onto the churning ice cream during the last two minutes of churning (be careful not to hit the blade spinner thingy – you want it on the actual gelato).
6. Enjoy immediately for a divine soft gelato, or let freeze for a few hours for a firmer texture. Enjoy! 🙂