Two years ago, I bought an ice cream maker. It came with a booklet of recipes, and every time I tried one, my ice cream came out rock hard and not very creamy. After toying around with lots of different recipes, I realized that the key to creamy, smooth ice cream is custard: a mixture of eggs, sugar, and milk. The addition of the eggs really changed the consistency of the ice cream, and finally, my ice cream was coming out with the correct taste and texture.
While I was on the path to terrific ice cream, I was still running into problems. Making a custard involves tempering eggs, and as I followed several different ice cream recipes, being careful to slowly introduce the hot liquid to the eggs, I still, somehow, scrambled the eggs. This was frustrating. Not only was I wasting ingredients, but I was always left with a big mess to clean up and no ice cream to eat.
Last year, I read some reviews of The Ciao Bella Book of Gelato & Sorbetto, by F. W. Pearce and Danilo Zecchin, and ran out to buy a copy. The book contains every flavor you could think of, and many that you couldn’t (e.g., Saffron Spice Gelato, Chocolate Chai Gelato, etc.).
Now, gelato isn’t quite the same thing as American ice cream. It comes from Italy and has a lower butterfat content than traditional ice cream, but it tastes just as delicious.
When I first got the book, I went on a bit of an ice cream-making bender. I was making multiple flavors a week, and every time, my ice cream came out perfectly—soft, creamy, and scrambled-egg-free.
The recipe below is Ciao Bella’s Crème Fraîche Gelato. To be honest, I’m not a big fan of vanilla—taste or smell—so I was trying to find another ice cream flavor to pair with pies and other desserts. When I came across this recipe, I was excited to try it.
On Friday, I posted a recipe for crème fraîche and mentioned that it, alone, pairs well with sweet desserts. Well, the gelato is even better. It does have a touch of the tanginess of crème fraîche, but it is sweet, cold, and refreshing.
Below is my first ice cream posting, but with the summer months ahead, you can expect to see more.
Crème Fraîche Gelato
Ingredients, makes 1 1/2 quarts
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 4 large egg yolks
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 3/4 cups crème fraîche
- In a heavy-bottom saucepan, combine the milk and cream. Place over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally so a skin doesn’t form, until tiny bubbles start to form around the edges and the mixture reaches a temperature of 170 degrees fahrenheit.
- Meanwhile, in a medium heat-proof bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth. Gradually whisk in the sugar until it is well incorporated and the mixture is thick and pale yellow.
- Temper the egg yolks by very slowly pouring in the hot milk mixture while whisking continuously. Return the custard to the saucepan and place over low heat. Cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and it reaches a temperature of 185 degrees fahrenheit. Do not bring to a boil.
- Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean bowl and let cool to room temperature, stirring every five minutes or so. To cool custard quickly, make an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice and water and placing the bowl with the custard in it; stir the custard until cooled. Once completely cooled, cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least four hours or overnight.
- Stir the crème fraîche into the cold custard.
- Pour mixture into an ice cream machine and churn according to manufacturer’s directions.
- Transfer to an airtight container and freeze for at least two hours before serving.