Q: How can the home cook make gelato?
—Jack Kane, Chicago
A: Yes, the home cook can make gelato. The process is pretty much the way you'd make ice cream at home. Just follow the instructions that come with your ice cream maker.
"Gelato" is, after all, the Italian word for "ice cream." According to "The New Food Lover's Companion," gelato "doesn't contain as much air as its American counterpart and therefore has a denser texture."
Steps the home cook can take to make gelato at home were outlined in a 2006 Good Eating story written by Renee Enna, my Chicago Tribune colleague. She interviewed Malcolm Stogo, a New Jersey-based ice cream consultant, author, and founder of Ice Cream University who leads annual gelato tours to Italy. Here are some of his tips as reported by Enna:
1.Use half-and half in making gelato; the resulting product will hold up for more than one day.
2.Gelato should be served softer than American ice cream, at 12 degrees Fahrenheit rather than 3 or 4 degrees. Take the gelato container from the freezer and zap in the microwave for 5 seconds to achieve the desired texture, Stogo suggested.
3.Using egg yolks in a gelato recipe will produce a "richer, creamer flavor," Stogo told Enna.
4.Put the storage container in the freezer while making the gelato in the ice cream machine. The chill will speed up the freezing process.
5.When is the gelato ready? "Stogo offers an excellent visual cue,'' Enna wrote. "Churn it until it sticks to a toothpick or spatula without falling off."
I've attached two gelato recipes to try. One is Stogo's vanilla gelato from Enna's column — she still praises it highly. The other is a cardamom-coffee gelato from a 2001 article by Kristin Eddy, a former Tribune reporter.
Prep: 25 minutes. Cook: 20 minutes Chill and freeze: 5 hours. Makes: 1 quart
This recipe is from Malcolm Stogo. The churning and freezing times are approximate, and will depend on your appliances.
1 quart half-and-half
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla
1. Combine half-and-half, sugar and egg yolks in double boiler; cook over medium heat, stirring, until mixture measures 185 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove mixture from heat; set pan in an ice bath. After mixture has cooled, stir in vanilla. Refrigerate, covered, at least 2 hours.
2. Churn mixture in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions until it thickens, about 20-35 minutes. Pour gelato in freezer-safe container; freeze until set, about 3 hours.