hazelnut, limoncello, pistachio gelato!
Somehow in the minds of the dr bob cooking team, a real self-freezing ice
cream machine had always remained in the category of delayed acquisitions
for some remote future date, one of those upscale toys that was an indulgence
whose time had not yet come. Which is the beauty of gift giving (receiving!).
Out of the blue someone decides for you that the time has come. We had done so
as a wedding present for close friends in Italy, after another close friend had
taken the plunge herself, researching the best product and verifying the claims
with personal experience, and we got a purchase deal (still a considerable pile
of lira at the time) from another close friend whose parents had a small
appliance store, but soon after marrying, reproduction began and the gelato
experience was cut short by the arrival of two
delightful little girls, more fun than making ice cream but of course a lot
And without an ice cream machine, you can't really experiment with ice cream
recipes. So when bob was browsing in Borders some years ago and spotted the
newly issued paperback
Under the Tuscan Sun which marked the beginning of a wave of American
fascination with farmhouses and country living in Tuscany, and leafed through it
and spotted a hazelnut gelato recipe introduced with superlative hype by the
author Frances Mayes, he snatched it up without any immediate plans for
execution, although clearly with the intention of one day trying it himself. The
whole cooking team read the book, but still this did not push the ice cream
machine buy-me button. We did, however, eventually get our
weekend in a farmhouse on a hill in Umbria, as a guest of our first ice
cream machine advisor, when we finally were initiated into the mysteries of
Then Christmas 2003 arrived, and our dessert-garnishing on-line-shopper
sister-in-law surprised bob with a
web-researched best-buy ice cream maker. It was only a matter of time before the
hazelnut gelato dream was realized. The first two holiday batches were vanilla
and chocolate, since the finicky nieces and nephews, like most American kids
below a certain age, wouldn't accept any other flavors. Then we were free to try
hazelnut, with a little experience already under our belts. The adult focus
group we tried it out on loved it. And repeated compliments more than necessary,
going so far as to hint they would gladly accept any overproduction that might
occur in the future. A winning strategy for them since we like to please.
And the move from hazelnut (Frangelico) to limoncello, a simple switch of our
two favorite Italian liqueurs that proved successful with
cheesecake, was the obvious next step. And we couldn't resist the urge to
meddle a bit with the details in the modification. While guessing wildly on the
amount of limoncello to go with. Looks like we guessed right. More adulation. If
only we can figure out how to reduce the fat someday soon...
So the next flavor choice was ani's favorite ice cream flavor: pistachio,
which is a favorite Middle East nut. It took a long time for bob to distinguish
pistachio from mint ice cream because they both were light green, and mint,
though prized in salads and savory dishes by everybody on the dr bob cooking
team now, has been on the dr bob dessert blacklist for life. Eventually bob
caught on. After tasting a delicious version of pistachio at a new area gourmet
gelato storefront Capogiro which even bob had to admit tasted better than his
choices, we had to try it ourselves. A Google search leading to
RecipeSource.com, and a separate check of
guided us in our modification to include a teaspoon each of almond and vanilla
extract, with a touch of cardamom from on-line reader feedback to the
Bon Appetit recipe.
Another success story.
|3 egg yolks
||3 egg yolks
||3 egg yolks
|3/4 c sugar
||3/4 c sugar
||3/4 c sugar
|1 T Frangelico
||1/4 c limoncello
||1 t almond extract
||1 t vanilla extract
1/4 t cardamom
|2 c [= 1 pt] half and half (nonfat?)
||2 c [= 1 pt] half and half (nonfat?)
||2 c [= 1 pt] half and half (nonfat?)
|1 c heavy (or light) cream
||1 c heavy (or light) cream
||1 c heavy (or light) cream
|juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
|3/4 c hazelnuts, toasted and
||3/4 c pistachios, finely crumbed
1/4 c pistachios, roughly chopped
- This is a two stage recipe: cooking the custard and cooling, then mixing
in add-ins before inserting into the ice cream machine.
- For the hazelnut gelato, coarsely chop (Frances) or finely crumb (us) the
hazelnuts (or divide and do both) and spread out on a cookie sheet and bake
at 350° F watching closely until they just turn
brown. They turn color quickly once they start and too easily burn shortly
thereafter. Set aside.
- For the pistachio gelato, finely crumb 3/4 c
of the unsalted, shelled and peeled (buy them that way) nuts, and coarsely
(but not too coarsely) chop the remaining 1/4 c. We put them in a zip-lock
bag and used our chicken breast pounder to get the right size.
- Prepare the lemon zest and for the hazelnut
gelato, the lemon juice. Skip this for the others. We want the limoncello to
be silky smooth in any case.
- Wisk or beat together the egg yolks and sugar
in the top of a double boiler as though making
zabaglione. We found it easier to add the liqueur or extracts/cardamom
at this stage to compensate for the extra sugar that stiffens up the
mixture. (Frances recommends adding it later with the heavy cream.) The
yolks should turn light yellow as in the zabaglione process. It might be a
good idea to reserve half the sugar until the next step so the mixture does
not lose its liquid state and become too thick. For the pistachio gelato,
mix in the finely crumbed pistachios so that their essence cooks into the
- Heat up the half and half until it is warm
but not scalding (2 minutes on high in the microwave!) and gradually add it
to the egg mixture while continuously beating with electric beaters so the
eggs are not shocked by the heat.
- Then place the top pan with the mixture into
the double boiler (pre-boil the water) and cook beating or stirring
constantly until the mixture thickens slightly without boiling. We check
that the temperature elevates over 160° F but this seems to be easier to
reach than thickening, which takes about 10 minutes. Ani has shown that
towards the end one needs to use a wooden spoon to feel the thickening reach
the desired point.
- Cool in the freezer about 30 minutes,
covering first with plastic wrap.
- Remove from the freezer and mix in the heavy
(light?) cream and remaining ingredients in the nut cases.
- Pour into the ice cream maker and process
according to the manufacturer's instructions. We set our Lello Gelato
machine timer on 40 minutes on the recommendation relayed by our
sister-in-law from customer feedback she found while surfing. Maybe 35 is
enough. Check near the end of the time period.
This multitasking recipe is a bit busy. Here is
the hazelnut by itself as it has evolved since its inception.
instructions for hazelnut gelato only
- No lemons anymore.
- We get blanched hazelnuts from Whole Foods
(i.e., no skins) and roast them about 10 minutes or so at 350° F until they
are golden brown to enhance their flavor, then cool them and food process
them into fine crumbs, and then a paste by adding 1/4 milk or light cream
and 1/4 c sugar to intensify the flavor when it is later steeped with the
cooling custard. If you want a smooth gelato, you can squeeze the hazelnut
paste through a sieve or cheesecloth or something that we never seem to have
on hand. Some day we will try this.
- Meanwhile with the electric beaters beat
the egg yolks in the top part of your double boiler with half a cup of sugar
until yellow, then beat in the Frangelico.
- Start the double boiler water boiling.
- Heat the half and half in the microwave
about a minute until hot but not boiling.
- Put the egg mixture pot over the double
boiler on the stove and pour the half and half into the egg mixture while
beating with the electric beaters and continue beating over the double
boiler. At some point you can switch to a wooden spoon to keep stirring the
- After about 10 minutes (now less on our new
improved kitchen stove), check that the temperature is at least 165° or so
with an instant read thermometer, then remove top from the double boiler and
beat in the hazelnut paste. It will "steep" with the custard mixture,
hopefully infusing it better with its flavor.
- Pour (scrape sides) the resulting mixture
into an adequate size bowl and cover with plastic wrap pushed down to the
surface so that no scum forms on the top.
- Put in the freezer to cool down, say 30
- Remove from freezer and pour in the cream,
then into the ice cream maker bucket. Process. Ours takes about 40-45
minutes. Then put into the freezer.
Under the Tuscan Sun, by Frances Mayes, paperback edition 1997,
Gelato by Lello, no company website yet.
It has served us well.
Gelato, originally at 13th & Sansom then also at 117 South 20th Street,
Philly Center City.
- 2015 discovery: it should have read "juice and zest of 1/2 lemon"! (we
halved the original recipe to fit in typical gelato machines but forgot to
halve the lemon, now corrected above).
Borders Books and Music
is long gone, a causualty of the internet age.
- Illustrations available.
This basic recipe can easily be converted into many other variations with a