Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Fresh Strawberry Gelato

Fresh-Strawberry-GelatoI was in Sorrento, Italy, the very first time I had gelato. It had been hot that day ~ beastly, brutally hot ~ and even now, at twilight, heat still radiated up from the sidewalk, which had baked in the Mediterranean sun all day. My husband and I were taking a walk down the sloping street leading away from our hotel. The faintest whisper of a cooling breeze was starting to come in off the water, and it was heavenly.

Farther along, down a street of shops and cafes, we spotted a line of people so long that it snaked around the corner and out of sight. The group was too diverse to be waiting outside a nightclub. Smartly dressed seniors mingled with jeans-clad teens; snuggling couples waited alongside jostling families.

scooping Curious, we walked closer. Ah. It was a gelateria, and it was packed. This being the early 1990s, when gelato was just starting to make inroads into the American dessert scene, we took our places at the back of the line, expecting to find the Italian equivalent of hand-dipped ice cream.

We were right, and wrong. The gelato we ate that night was similar in many ways to the ice cream we were familiar with. As expected, it was sweet, creamy, and blessedly frozen. One big difference, however, was the portion size. In New York, or anywhere in Dairy Country, USA, you can order your hard ice cream in scoops that are designated "small," "medium," or "large." But everyone knows these are just the polite terms for the real sizes: "baseball," "softball," and "tetherball."

In Sorrento, the gelato scoops balanced delicately atop our improbably narrow cones were the size of golf balls. I would be lying if I said that the first thought that flung itself into my mind wasn't something akin to "The sample spoonfuls at Baskin Robbins are bigger than this!" But oh, the flavor! Amaretto, kiwi, pineapple, espresso. So intense! So true. This was more like sorbet than ice cream. I’m a big supporter of chunks in my ice cream, but this smooth, perfect gelato was so absolutely authentic in its essential flavor that I barely missed my peanut-butter cups and toffee bar crumbles. And no clunky chocolate chips, either ~ this gelato was flecked with rich dark-chocolate stracciatella. And it rocked.

Strawberry-gelatoI have never forgotten that gelato, and now that I make my own, I use it as the benchmark for what I want to achieve with my frozen desserts. Yes, I do love a chunky and complicated mix of nuts and candy and sweet heavy cream. But as my tastes become gradually more refined, I'm striving to combine my New York State sensibility with my appreciation for the finer nuances of the elegant Italian-style gelato. How? Bigger bowls.

shadowy-scoop

Fresh Strawberry Gelato

~ Adapted from the May 2009 issue of Bon App├ętit, p. 115

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 1/4 cups sliced ripe strawberries, cleaned and hulled
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate juice (I used Pom)
  1. Prepare an ice bath by filling a large stainless-steel mixing bowl with halfway with ice and adding water. Place a clean, dry stainless steel bowl into the bowl filled with ice. Set aside.
  2. Combine sugar and cornstarch in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan, stirring to combine. Whisk in milk, then cream. Place saucepan over medium heat and whisk continuously until the cream mixture bubbles and begins to thicken ~ about 5 to 8 minutes. Pour the gelato base into the bowl resting atop the ice bath; stir the mixture occasionally so that it cools evenly.
  3. Puree the strawberries in a blender or food processor. If desired, pour through strainer into gelato base. (I didn't strain my mix; strawberry seeds are tiny and I don't object to them.) Add pomegranate juice and stir to combine. Remove from water bath, dry bottom of bowl, cover and chill until the gelato base is completely cold, about 3 hours.
  4. When the base is thoroughly chilled, process in ice cream machine according to manufacturer's directions. Transfer to a chilled container with a tightly fitting lid. Freeze, covered, for at least 3 hours prior to serving. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes to soften slightly before scooping.

Makes about 1 quart.

Click here for printable view.

stop-thief

17 comments:

  1. That looks so good. Gelato is my favorite!!

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  2. This looks wonderful, Sandy! I can still remember the first gelato I had on my first trip to Italy 20 years ago. What a revelation! The fruity ones are the best. I will definitely be making this one soon!

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  3. I think I like homemade gelato better than homemade ice cream

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  4. I will take a tetherball size cone of this please....

    I really like the addition of pom juice to add a little bit of tartness.

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  5. Oh my! I have an ice cream attachment for my Kitchen Aid that I've never used. I think I'm about to use it.

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  6. I love gelato, but never knew it was something that would be so easy to make!

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  7. Perfect! I've been wanting to try proper gelato, and I happen to have a one-pound box of fresh strawberries in the fridge! Mmm... I can't wait to try this!

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  8. I think I ate my weight in gelato (no easy feat...) when I spent 10 days in Italy a couple of summers ago. Of course, I had to try all of the flavors! This looks so good, and I have an ice cream maker just begging to be used. :-)

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  9. I'm definitely going to give this a try. Thanks for sharing the recipe and your great photos.
    Michelle
    http://oneordinaryday.wordpress.com/

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  10. This looks so good!

    Sandy, I saw on Twitter that you're from New York. Me too! Where are you from?

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  11. I love gelato. The strawberries are so good right now, I will have to try it!

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  12. I was so happy that I made this gelato this weekend. I had cranberry pomegranate juice on hand and use that instead of plain pom juice. Either way, it turned out wonderful. Everyone really loved it. The texture was better than our beloved Ben and Jerry's recipes that we normally use. Thanks for sharing.

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  13. Wow! This look delicious and reminds me of summer picnics with family. I am going to try to make this.

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  14. Finally found a reason (like I needed one) to try this recipe out today. I've never made an eggless recipe, but I didn't feel like fooling with separation today so I tried this one - with kiwi. It's chilling in the fridge, but it made this uber-lovely shade of green... :) Thanks!

    Kate

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  15. Just made this and it is wonderful! Thanks for sharing this recipe!

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