The first time I ever tasted Nutella, I was on a three month-long bike trip in France. It sounds romantic, doesn’t it? Rather than spending spring trimester of junior year in a classroom, I spent it on a bike riding through five different regions of France. Even as I type that I think,”Man, that sounds amazing”. Parts of it were amazing. But not seeing the sun for 14 days straight and camping in soaking wet tents along the side of the road was not. I was 16, cold, wet, hungry, and homesick. Food was more important to me than it ever had been in my life up until that point. Meals, homestays, and mail were the things that kept me going through what proved to be a difficult trip.
All of us carried food with us either in our paniers or, as in the case of baguettes, strapped to the back of our bikes. There were certain things that some people were never without. For me it was a large bar of chocolate. Others were intensely loyal to Nutella. I thought the idea of spreading a chocolate/hazelnut mixture on bread sounded like a strange and not-all-that-appetizing practice. The color and consistency of Nutella turned me off so I didn’t eat it. Then one day, when I had run out of jam, I accepted a smear from a friend and then – oh yes – I understood.
What does this have to do with ice cream? Friends, this is Gianduja Gelato. In other words, Nutella ice cream. Oh, and with a ribbon of dark chocolate running through it. Homemade ice cream will impress just about any dinner guest (“You made the ice cream??”), but just to totally blow peoples’ minds, try serving this with Nutella Pound Cake. Prepare yourself for praise.
(If you are looking for something more savory, I posted a terrific Eggplant Parmesan recipe over at Amazon Fresh.)
1½ cups hazelnuts, toasted
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
¾ cup sugar
¼ tsp. coarse salt
4 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
5 large egg yolks
1/8 tsp. vanilla extract
Stracciatella (recipe follows)
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.
Warm the milk with 1 cup 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.
Put the milk chocolate pieces in a large bowl. Heat the remaining 1 cup 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.
Pour the hazelnut-infused mixture through a strainer into a medium saucepan, squeese the nuts firmly with your hands to extract as much of the flavorful liquid as possible. Discard the hazelnuts.
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.
Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of 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.
Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Make enough for 1 quart of ice cream
5 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (do not use chocolate chips)
In a clean, absolutely dry bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate stirring it until it is absolutely smooth.
Mixing it in: Drizzle a thin stream of the warm chocolate into the ice cream during the last possible minute of churning. If the chocolate clings too much to the dasher, remove the ice cream from the machine and drizzle the chocolate into the frozen ice cream by hand while you layer it into the storage container, breaking up any chunks as you stir.