The combination of hazelnuts and milk chocolate is absolutely divine – so I was excited to find the recipe for gianduja gelato in David Lebovitz’s ice cream bible, The Perfect Scoop. Gianduja is an Italian chocolate that was created in the Piedmont region when cocoa was in short supply, so hazelnuts were added to the chocolate to give it more substance! Gianduja should be incredibly smooth, like a praline but using hazelnuts instead of almonds.
I know what you’re thinking – isn’t this basically Nutella? In fact, Nutella started off as a gianduja paste, which was then developed into the spread which has become so popular today (click here for an interesting blog post on the full history). While it’d be much easier to use a jar of the moreish chocolate-hazelnut spread to make my recipe, I didn’t want to risk my ice cream becoming too sweet, and I like a bit of a challenge! Apparently the best gianduja will contain up to 50% hazelnut, so I made sure to be generous with the nuts and to try to extract as much flavour from them as possible.
Making the hazelnut ice cream base involved: (1) toasting the hazelnuts to a delicious golden brown; (2) blitzing up the nuts into a fine crumb-paste; (3) mixing the paste into the milk and cream base; (4) resting the entire mixture for an hour or so to let the hazelnut flavour infuse into the milk and cream. The hazelnut paste is then sieved out and you’re left with an rich and aromatic ice cream base that is ready for the custard and milk chocolate.
This is a seriously tasty ice cream with a fantastic balance of flavours between the hazelnuts and the milk chocolate – neither ingredient overpowering the other. It does take more effort to make but I promise you it’s worth it!