Chocolate-Hazelnut Gelato (Gianduia al Gelato)
Nutella may be one of the greatest, most luxuriously tasty products ever created. Thankfully, it’s fairly easy to whip together as a delightful Keto spread (a concoction I lovingly refer to as Notella).
Nutella is essentially a hazelnut butter (1/2 cup [120 mL] of toasted peeled hazelnuts in a food processor, until creamy [upwards of 10 minutes]), mixed with sweetened chocolate (once you have the smooth nut butter, add 2 tbsp [30 mL] unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 tbsp [30 mL] powdered sugar replacement, 2 tbsp [30 mL] warm sustainable red palm or coconut oil, 1/2 tsp [3 mL] vanilla extra, and 1/2 tsp [3 mL] salt… process until spectacular).
Nutella is a product created in 1964, but the combination of chocolate and hazelnut goes back much much further.
Hazelnuts are a particularly abundant and special crop from the Piedmont region of Italy. In the early 1800’s, Napoleonic France blocked French allies from trading with the British. This radically diminished cocoa supplies coming from South America. Enterprising chocolatiers from Turin stretched their scant chocolate with the bountiful local hazelnuts, giving birth to gianduia (or gianduja, depending who you ask), a sweetened chocolate-hazelnut spread. Funnily enough, this name was inspired by a character from Commedia dell'arte; a happy, sarcastic and lecherous drunk. Gianduja is now known as Turin’s King of the Carnival and is a modern-day symbol of Piedmont.
While Gianduia and Nutella both contain some actual hazelnuts. The gelato form typically does not. The hazelnuts are often strained out creating a silky-smooth hazelnut-infused, lightly salted and chocolatey frozen delight, steeped in the history of Piedmont. It’s tasty, too!
Now, I should say that true Gianduia al Gelato is lower in fat, far higher in carbs and typically made by steeping toasted hazelnuts in milk. This milk is strained, then churned with sugar, milk chocolate, salt, occasionally other flavorings and is also often thickened with a bit of cornstarch. Gelato is also a denser product than Ice Cream (which typically has a higher content of air pushed into it, called overrun).
What we’re actually going to be making is a higher fat sugar-free mixture, inspired by these flavors and history, but we’re not going to make a true soft-serve style Italian gelato (though it’s worth mentioning that most home style ice cream machines tend to add less air than industrial machinery… yielding a denser, more gelato-like product).
Because milk tends to have higher quantities of lactose (a milk sugar), we’re going to use almond milk (though, hazelnut milk is an even better choice, should you choose to use it), to drop the carb count. We’re also using cream, to add fat and drop carbs, but also because cream is simply awesome. We’re using a sugar alternative because sugar is not awesome. Finally, we’re going to use 100% cacao chocolate bars, and add our own sweetener and dairy, rather than using milk chocolate.
We’re also going to use egg yolks, forming a bit of a chocolate hazelnut custard base. This both adds more fat, but it also helps generate a creamier gelato. Sugar-free ice creams are known to freeze brick-hard, which can be less pleasant then a softer sugar-full ice cream. Egg yolks help soften the ice cream and boost scoopability. A bit of salt works as a flavor enhancer, while also dropping the freezing point of the ice crystals. This furthers the slightly softer experience.
Finally, I’m including some vegetable glycerin and xanthan gum. These two ingredients also help with the texture and boost scoopability. These final two ingredients are completely optional, but they do make the ice cream a bit softer to scoop. If you plan to make ice cream often (like I do), adding these ingredients to your pantry may be worth the plunge.
In the end, nothing will help make your gelato as scoopable and ready to enjoy as a pre-treat softening period. I’ve long been in the habit of putting my ice cream in the refrigerator for an hour before enjoying. I simply put the ice cream in the fridge, enjoy my dinner, clean up… then grab the ice cream from the fridge and enjoy!
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr 30 mins
Total Time8 hrs
Servings: 8 servings
- 2 cups hazelnuts
- 1 1/2 cups almond milk or hazelnut milk
- 2 1/2 cups heavy cream divided
- 1 1/4 cups powdered or granular sugar replacement divided
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 oz. unsweetened 100% cacao chocolate
- 3/4 tsp xanthan gum optional
- 8 large egg yolks
- 3 tbsp food grade vegetable glycerin optional
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).
Spread hazelnuts, in one even layer, along the bottom of a baking pan. Bake the nuts until they are aromatic, lightly colored and the peels are blistering (about 12 minutes but watch them). Remove the hazelnuts and quickly wrap in a clean kitchen towel, so they can steam in their own hotness. After a minute or two, rub the hazelnuts thoroughly, while still inside the towel. This will rub the majority of the peels off the nuts. If a small percentage of the peels won’t come off, that’s ok. However, if a substantial percentage is still stuck, place them back in the oven until the peels come off more easily.
Once the nuts are peeled, place them in a food processor and pulse until the nuts are coarsely chopped (pieces around the size of sunflower seeds). A knife will also do the trick, but a food processor is faster. Don’t over process, as the nuts will start to turn to butter.
Place the chopped hazelnuts, almond milk, 1 1/2 cup (360 mL) heavy cream, 1 cup (240 mL) sweetener and salt into a saucepan. Place pan over medium heat and warm until a few small bubbles start to appear. We don’t want this to boil. We just want it to ALMOST boil. Once a trickle of a simmer has occurred, stir the mixture, then cover it, remove from heat and set somewhere warm for an hour, stirring occasionally.
After an hour strain the hazelnut mixture into a bowl, through a fine meshed sieve or a cheesecloth. Squeeze out as much of the liquid as possible. Discard the dry flavorless hazelnut matter. Clean the saucepan, then return the hazelnut cream to the pan. Place the hazelnut cream back on the stove, to bring up to a trickle of a simmer (again, we want it hot, but not boiling).
While the hazelnut cream is heating, chop the chocolate bar into pieces about the size of chocolate chips. Set aside.
In a small bowl, mix together the remaining 1/4 cup (60 mL) sweetener with the xanthan gum, to evenly distribute it within the powdered sweetener (to help prevent clumping). Set aside.
Place the egg yolks into a new large mixing bowl. Whisk the egg yolks until they are nicely whisked and lemony yellow. Once the hazelnut cream is hot, add about 1/4 of the hot liquid to the eggs, whisking quickly while pouring. This is called “tempering” and will help prevent the eggs from scrambling. Continue whisking, while pouring the hot mixture into the eggs. Once all of the hazelnut cream has been added to the eggs, return the hazelnut custard base (that’s what this is, noback into the saucepan and cook over low heat.
Add the chopped chocolate and remaining sweetener mixture to the hazelnut custard base, stirring constantly. We don’t want the eggs to scramble. Continue stirring, scooping from the sides, until the chocolate has fully melted, the sweetener has dissolved, and the mixture thickens, coating the back of a spoon (a temperature of about 165°F [74°C]).
Remove from the stove and whisk in the remaining cup (240 mL) heavy cream, optional vegetable glycerin and vanilla extract. Place in the refrigerator to chill.
Once the mixture has chilled, pour into the ice cream machine. Follow the instructions on your ice cream machine.
Churn the magic until amazing, portion, freeze and/or enjoy on the spot!