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Prep Time: 55 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
To toast hazelnuts, position a rack in the center of an oven and preheat to 350°F. In a shallow roasting pan, spread the hazelnuts in a single layer and toast, shaking the pan 2 or 3 times, until the nuts are golden beneath their skins, 10 to 15 minutes. To check for doneness, remove a hazelnut from the oven after about 10 minutes and cut it open. Check every few minutes until the nuts are golden brown all the way through. Wrap the hot hazelnuts in a clean kitchen towel and rub the nuts in the towel to remove the loose skins.
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For the hazelnut paste:
- 3⁄4 cup hazelnuts, toasted and skinned,
plus extra, coarsely chopped, for
- 1 Tbs. hazelnut oil or canola oil
- 1 Tbs. sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 3 cups milk
- 4 egg yolks
- 1⁄2 cup heavy cream
- 3⁄4 cup sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 4 1⁄2 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate,
Directions:To make the hazelnut paste, in a food processor, combine the 3⁄4 cup hazelnuts, the hazelnut oil, sugar and salt. Process until a thick paste forms, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. You should have about 1⁄3 cup paste.
In a heavy 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk and the hazelnut paste. Cook until bubbles form around the edges of the pan, about 5 minutes. Do not allow the mixture to boil.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the egg yolks, cream, sugar and salt. Whisk until smooth and the sugar begins to dissolve.
Remove the milk mixture from the heat. Gradually whisk about 1⁄2 cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture until smooth. Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon and keeping the custard at a low simmer, until it is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and leaves a clear trail when a finger is drawn through it, 4 to 6 minutes. Do not allow the custard to boil.
Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl, pour the hot custard over it and stir until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Place the bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice water, stirring occasionally until cool. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours.
Transfer the custard to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer the gelato to a freezer-safe container. Cover and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours or up to 3 days, before serving. Garnish each serving with chopped hazelnuts. Makes about 1 quart.
Note: You may use 1⁄3 cup commercial hazelnut paste in place of the homemade paste in this recipe.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Ice Cream, by Mary Goodbody (Simon & Schuster, 2003).