While in Italy in May, I partook in Italy's favorite afternoon snack: gelato. (Hey, when in Rome, do as the Romans do, right?) It seemed so much more rich and more flavorful than ice cream and gelato back home, but it probably tasted better since I had views like the below.
Most American ice cream makers add water and air to ice cream, which increases the weight and volume, respectively. Italian law restricts increasing an ice cream's volume with air and weight with water. Other European countries have similar regulations. Oh, how I love European foodie law. That explains why ice cream and gelato is so darn good in Europe. :)
How do you keep air out of gelato? For one, gelato is churned at a very slow speed, often in a "compressor" style maker, which incorporates less air into the mixture. This also helps give gelato a more dense flavor. My ice cream maker has an opening and does not allow for "speed control," so more air gets incorporated into the gelato.
Even so, this chocolate hazelnut gelato is pretty darn good. Frozen Nutella...need I say more?
Chocolate Hazelnut Gelato
Yields about 2 pints
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 egg yolks
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate hazelnut spread
In a small saucepan, combine the milk, heavy cream, and 1/2 cup sugar over medium heat. Stir gently so that the milk doesn't scald. Cook until the sugar dissolves, which should take about 5 minutes.
In a separate bowl, whip the egg yolks with 1/4 cup sugar until the eggs have become thick and pale yellow. Pour 1/2 cup of the warm milk mixture into the egg mixture and stir. Transfer this mixture into the saucepan, and cook over very low heat, stirring constantly. Stir until the mixture becomes thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 7 to 10 minutes.
Pour the mixture into a medium bowl and stir in the vanilla extract and the chocolate hazelnut spread until it dissolves. Chill overnight, and then pour into and ice cream maker and freeze.
Source: Giada Di Laurentiis