Sunday, April 27, 2014

Chocolate-amaretto gelato

Despite the crazy, we-thought-it-would-never-end, winter we just lived through, I'm amazed to realize I pulled out the ice cream maker and made my fair share of ice cream during those months.  I guess we needed comfort food of all kinds to get through all that snow (plus, there was plenty of time on our hands at home, indoors)!  Now that it's warming up and ice cream season is really kicking into high gear, I took it upon myself to make this flavor I've been hankering for...
I made chocolate-amaretto gelato.  I use the term "gelato" loosely since, unlike actual gelaterias which churn their gelato slowly to incorporate less air, our homemade version is churned in a standard home ice cream maker.  I adapted the recipe from the Ciao Bella Book of Gelato and it does contain a higher milk to cream ratio, something I like about gelato because not only is it a bit lighter, it seems to let the base flavor shine more.
You might know my profile by now: crazy chocolate fanatic and lover of almond-flavored things.  So chocolate and amaretto is a combination I love.  This gelato makes me think of an affogato.   Ever since I started making it last summer (it was a revelation!), it's become a go-to dessert for my husband and I.  And after trying a few combinations (different ice creams flavors and liqueurs), the version with homemade chocolate gelato and amaretto is my very favorite. This gelato is a close mimic of that if you want to skip the hot espresso.  But I can tell you we did used it for affogato and it is terrific drowned in hot espresso and an extra splash of amaretto as well!
I've had a bag of amaretti cookies in the pantry waiting for this gelato to happen.  I thought it would be great to go alongside, to echo the almond flavor and add some always-welcomed crunch.  I went with store-bought though I've attempted a homemade version once before.  I thought I'd go for not only ease but the authentic depth of flavor and intense crunch you get from the "real" kind.  Did you know that amaretti cookies are made with apricot kernels?!  I don't know much about apricot kernels but they sure do help make some intense amaretti cookies.  (Incidentally, David Lebovitz has a recipe for apricot kernel ice cream in his new book.  You hack away at the pit of an apricot and the kernels are hidden inside!) 

I really wanted to post this particular gelato because it's one of those flavor combinations that define what I love.  This gelato or ice cream is smooth and chocolaty and the amaretto liqueur adds an almond flavor, with a zing, that does not go unnoticed.  It's pretty wonderful.  



To make this chocolate-amaretto gelato, I start with a chocolate base.  I adapted the recipe from Ciao Bella a bit by actually scaling down the amount of bittersweet chocolate to 3 ounces, from 4 ounces.  

I surprise myself whenever I use less, rather than more chocolate, for a recipe but I find that with many homemade chocolate ice cream recipes, too much chocolate can make it a bit too rich, too pudding-like for me.  It almost seems to be missing that "ice" part of the ice cream when there's too much.  I prefer it just a bit lighter and I'm glad I went with a bit less because the end result is there's plenty of chocolate flavor here without being too rich.
The rest of this chocolate gelato base is made with 2 cups whole milk, 1 cup heavy cream, 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa, 4 egg yolks, and 3/4 cup sugar.  I also added a teaspoon of instant espresso powder, more to heighten the chocolate flavor than to add a pronounced coffee flavor (though that is not a bad idea at all).  

Chill the cooked chocolate base overnight (or at least 4 hours) and add chilled amaretto liqueur right before churning.  You can use 1/4 to as much as 1/2 cup.  I used a generous 1/4 cup and it was enough for us. You can clearly taste the amaretto in the finished gelato.
Homemade chocolate ice cream tends to be soft but the liqueur in this also contributes added smoothness. My husband particularly loves a smooth, softer textured ice cream so this is right up his alley.  I actually don't mind my ice cream nice and icy but this is equally nice with all that chocolate and almond flavor, together with a little kick.  It's good stuff!
Serve with amaretti cookies, biscotti, tuiles, or just a cup of coffee/espresso and you have an elegant dessert.  Or go casual and plop a scoop over a cone and take it outside and enjoy the sunshine.  I think ice cream is like the ultimate "little black dress" of desserts...you can't go wrong!
I can't help but daydream about other gelato flavors I love...hazelnut, gianduja/chocolate-hazelnut, pistachio, chestnut...(chocolate goes without saying).  I usually favor Ben & Jerry-style ice cream with tons of bold, crunchy mix-ins but when it comes to gelato, there's usually so much flavor - and so many flavor choices - that I'm totally satisfied with its simplicity.


Recipe:

Chocolate-Amaretto Gelato
Adapted from Ciao Bella Book of Gelato 

- Makes approximately 1 quart - 

2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I used 60% cacao), finely chopped
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)
4 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup amaretto liqueur
Optional: crushed amaretti cookies, for serving

Place milk and cream into a heavy-bottom saucepan and heat over medium-low, stirring occasionally, until small bubbles begin to form around the edges. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cocoa powder.  Add the chopped chocolate and espresso powder and whisk until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is smooth.

Whisk egg yolks together in a heatproof bowl.  Gradually whisk in sugar until combined.  The mixture should be thick and pale yellow.  Whisking constantly, gradually add a few ladles of the hot milk mixture, a few tablespoons at a time, to temper the yolks.  Scrape the custard into the saucepan and place it over low heat.  Cook, stirring continuously, until custard is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. 

Pour mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean bowl.  Let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, then cover and chill overnight or at least 4 hours.  While custard chills, cover and refrigerate amaretto liqueur as well.

Remove custard and amaretto from the refrigerator.  Stir the amaretto into the custard right before churning according to manufacturer's instructions.  Let gelato set in the fridge a few hours before serving.  Serve with crushed amaretti cookies, if desired.  






49 comments:

  1. Oh my, the chocolate amaretto flavors hooked me right into reading your post. Bookmarked this recipe and I'll try it soon. Thanks for the nice blog visit, Monica.

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    1. I hope you do try it! I adored it. Thank you, Betty Ann.

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  2. That looks really good! And you guys had such a crazy long Winter! We'd occasionally see temperature reports well into the seasonal change. Good that it is warming up and you can have gelato :)

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    1. The winter was insane but we still managed to eat some ice cream here and there. Now we don't have to pretend it's ice cream season!

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  3. This was a really long and cold winter - so glad the weather is finally warming up and hopefully is here to stay :) This gelato looks absolutely incredible Monica! Seeing the shots of you making this is making my mouth totally water - the texture looks so creamy and delicious! I love the chocolate and amaretto combination and the crunch from the amaretti cookies are such a wonderful addition! I finally tried your affogato with chocolate gelato recipe on the weekend and oh my gosh girl - it tasted out of this world and now I can't wait to try this one next :) Yum!!! Hope you had a great weekend friend! Pinning :)

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    1. The texture is so smooth and velvety, Kelly. I can't believe you just tried that affogato/chocolate gelato recipe over the weekend and here I am again posting something similar! : ) Glad you liked it and I hope you try this one. You got the flavors of that affogato almost all here in this ice cream. The amaretto is very zippy! :)

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  4. Whether it's cold or hot I never say no to ice cream. This recipe would definitely hit the spot any time of the year!!!!!

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  5. So glad it's finally warmed up for you!! And this gelato sounds soooo good... love the amaretti cookies crumbled on top!

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    1. Thanks, Marie. Enjoying the longer, brighter days for sure!

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  6. Hi Monica,
    OMG! This is seriously one of the best looking and tasting flavor combinations. Yummy!!

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    1. Hi Asmita - I love the combo, too. The rich chocolate ice cream stands up well to the amaretto but both are clearly there on its own too. : )

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  7. Chocolate and almond liqueur...a lovely combo. Your gelato looks really smooth and creamy!

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  8. I have yet to make gelato at home! Absolute craziness ... this sounds wonderful with the chocolate and amaretto. I need to pull out my ice cream maker soon - it's been far too long since I put it to use!

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    1. That ice cream maker is a 'dangerous' thing to have. I just want to use it more than I should - I use my son as an excuse. : )

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  9. Yummmm, I'm down with ice cream at any time of year, but especially now that it's getting warmer! I also like that this recipe has a higher milk to cream ratio. Now all I need to do is invest in an ice cream machine!

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    1. I resisted buying an ice cream maker for a long time. I've gotten a lot of mileage out of mine.

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  10. Wow! Monica, this looks amazing, love the flavors that you used. I need to go out and buy an ice cream maker after this. Yum!

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    1. haha - it can be 'dangerous' to own an ice cream machine, Cheri. I'm forewarning you. : )

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  11. I'm a huge fan of chocolate and almond flavor together! And I love soft ice creams! They don't freeze my teeth as much :)
    Need to get an ice cream maker so I can try this!

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    1. Yes, my fellow almond-loving friend. : ) This is definitely creamy and soft, particularly with the liqueur. Homemade ice cream is really fun and delish.

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  12. Goodness Monica, this gelato looks heavenly!! I can just imagine how good this tastes. Smooth, chocolates with that Amaretto kick! Yum!! I think I may trade in my KitchenAid ice cream mixer bowl for a regular ice cream maker. Would you recommend the maker you use?

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    1. Heavenly is a good description. : ) It's everything you described. I've always been curious about how the KitchenAid bowl works! I have the very standard, 1-quart, Cuisinart ice cream maker. It works just fine for my basic purposes. IThere are far more advanced models but it's good enough for my basic needs.

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    2. Thanks Monica. That is the second Cuisinart recommendation I have had. The KitchenAid bowl may have to go. The batter has to be the perfect temperature before it's whipped in the bowl - too warm and it doesn't really whip up and too cold and it freezes far too quickly, unable to churn. Unless I am doing something drastically wrong, it's a bit like hard work instead of fun!!

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  13. Congratulations, Monica. Your gelato looks Amazing! I need to pull my machine out too. Your flavor combination is to die for!!! :) ela@GrayApron

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    1. Thank you, Ela! Hope you put your ice cream maker to good use real soon. : )

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  14. I love a good dark chocolate gelato and this sounds so good with amaretto cookies on top.

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    1. I can't get enough of it. Between this recipe and the chocolate gelato recipe from David Lebovtiz, I'm set on that front.

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  15. Wow Monica - this is a beautiful gelato. I wish we had gelato makers at home - but I'm so happy with my ice cream maker too. This looks like it has the perfect texture. Yum!!! I would have never thought to combine chocolate and amaretto - but love both!

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    1. I know! I love the soft texture of gelatos and the incredible flavor where you don't miss the crunchy mix-ins. I love this chocolate-amaretto combo. : )

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  16. And I feel like I didn't break out my ice cream maker enough this winter!! Better start making up for lost time. I love the sound of this chocolatey almond flavor!

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    1. I was shocked I used it as much as I did given all that crazy snow. I think I had too much time on my hands.

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  17. Adding Amaretto liqueur in the gelato and crushed amaretti cookies at the end would bring this gelato to a whole new level! This week is going to be warm in the Bay Area, and homemade ice cream or gelato would be wonderful! Yours look PERFECT!

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    1. Thanks, Nami! I love gelato and chocolate & almonds are two of my favorites. When you mention Bay Area and ice cream, it got me thinking about Ghirardelli Square! My son and I pigged out there for my birthday this past summer. Such fun memories.

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  18. Wowo i can imagine how delicious this gelatto is.

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    1. What's not to love about ice cream/gelato, right?!

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  19. Chocolate Amaretto Gelato!!! Yes! I'll take a serving:D This looks amazingly creamy and delicious! I can't wait for some warmer days to start making ice creams on a regular basis. Can you believe we have snow again today?! So, for now I'm Pinning for a warm day :D

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    1. Oh no - snow?? Are you kidding? I am totally not going to complain about the pouring rain today. Hang in there...sun, warmth, and ice cream days ahead!

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  20. Delicious looking gelato Monica...love the combination of chocolate and amaretto...so rich, and creamy...yum!
    Hope you are enjoying your week :D

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  21. Up until now I have somehow resisted the NEED to purchase an ice cream maker. I have drooled over recipes but consoled myself with the knowledge that I could avoid the temptation to make and consume way too much of the ice cream because I simply didn't have the tools. But then you post this dreamy chocolaty concoction, Monica. I find myself thinking that now that my daughter is gluten free, certainly ice cream is the easiest gluten free treat the whole family would enjoy. Don't you think? :) Apparently, I do NEED an ice cream maker. :) As soon as the machine is sitting in my kitchen, this recipe will have its debut! Thanks!

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    1. I managed to resist for years but it's just a matter of time, Wendy. I think you've held out long enough. Your daughter needs some ice cream...and sorbet and frozen yogurt! : ) David Lebovitz's Perfect Scoop is just waiting for you. ; ) If you do get one, please give this a try! :)

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  22. I'll take three scoops, please! Seriously cannot get enough of chocolate ice cream lately. This would be my weakness, Monica!

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    1. Ice cream is definitely a major weakness of mine. Good thing my husband and the little one plows right through every quart I make.

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  23. You are certainly my sugar twin Monica:-) Chocolate and almonds...what can I say! Next time when you make this, I'm coming. We are almost into winter but I haven't been able to stop making or eating ice pops, granitas, or semifreddos. The ice cream maker is collecting dust but now I will take that one out. Thanks for the inspiration. The gelato looks out of this world.

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    1. I think we have good taste in sweets! ; ) Here, we are so glad to shake off that winter...ready to grill and sit in the backyard for a change. Lucky, we find ice cream to be season-less! : )

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  24. mmm, gelato! I was *just* thinking about pulling out my ice cream maker: i think i was on some sort of subconscious boycott from it because i couldn't handle cold inside and cold outside: TOO MUCH COLD. But now (although we had a chilly one yesterday) with temps warming up, i'm starting to warm up to the idea of making it again. and this one sounds PERFECT. can't beat chocolate amaretto, i don't think. :)

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    1. haha...I am never too cold for ice cream. I drank frappucinos all through the winter, too. Either I'm just crazy (likely) or the heat in my house just works really well.

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