Healthy Desserts: Fruit Gelato

Italian gelato and sorbets are the most delicious you will ever experience and short of going back to Italy to get some I think I will have to make my own.  I am seriously looking at buying a gelato machine to try my hand at making some artisan gelato. Several years ago I spent 2 weeks in Venice while my husband Tony worked on the lagoons sampling the waters. My days were spent wandering around the alleyways totally lost in the culture – and the gelato of course. If you have ever tasted genuine Italian gelato then you will know what I am talking about.  I can hardly begin to describe the flavours except to say that they will astound you with their intense richness their true flavours.  Even French gelato – although good,- is no match for Italian gelato.  I would even go so far as to say that genuine artisian made gelato is healthy for you  – maybe even anti-aging as it contains serious amounts of antioxidants and phytochemicals, and if you use berries and chocolate then there loads of polyphenols and ellagic acid.  That is one reason I want to make it and am looking for the type of gelato machine that will suit my needs.  With summer coming on and local fruit coming into season soon I’m ready for good stuff. I’m not a huge fan of ice-cream.  Its often too sweet and not that flavorful and some of the flavours that are available now are just awful.  Bubble gum icecream?  Seriously?   Even my favourite icecream – chocolate – is often not that good. With the exception of Godiva maybe.   I always thought it would be great to open an ice-cream parlour.  Ever since I tried the good stuff it seemed like a brilliant idea to provide the same delicious taste sensation to the ice-cream lovers of mid west USA – but its just a ‘what if’ fantasy because I am busy enough in my real job so guess I’ll just make it for friends and family – at least for the time being.

You might be wondering how gelato is different from icecream. Well, it has less fat and less air which allows for an intense smooth flavour. The original gelatos were made with fruit and mixed with whole milk and sugar.  There are variations, some regions of Italy use cream and eggs. Not saying eggs and cream aren’t delicious, but if you want that fruit flavour to really hit your taste buds then you don’t want the creamy effect. And I am after the Sicilian style of gelato that is made with out the use of eggs and cream.   (with the occasional exception, such as the recipe featured below).

I have only tried one gelato I didn’t like and that was tomato gelato. (Not kidding about the name – except it only sounds like this in English :)) There are all manner of gelatos you would never ever imagine as being delicious – Herbs and flowers are made into gelatos, I’ve  eaten Rose and Lavender and apparently jasmine gelato is good too.   But fruit gelato is my favorite – every kind of fruit you can imagine.  Think  Passion fruit, Lemon, Orange, Mango, Pineapple, Berries of all kinds, Peaches, Cherry, Coconut, and what ever else you can find. I must admit I’ve never seen apple gelato – why – I don’t know.  I might have to try making it, I think apple and cinnamon would be interesting.

Nuts are a popular choice for gelatos too. Hazelnuts, walnuts, pistachios, Marzipan from almonds all find their way into these gorgeous desserts.    For the more adventurous you can get licorice, Green Tea, Malt as well as the MOST amazing chocolate flavour you have ever ever tasted.  Now I am a chocolate connoisseur so trust me on this one.

If you make your gelato out of fresh fruit, nuts  then you are getting loads of phytochemicals, antioxidants, healthy fats, omega 3s, calcium, protein, vitamins and minerals. And we all know that dark chocolate is good for you….and I think it would be ammaaazzzinlgy good with some real mint added in.

Naturally I have picked out the options where there is health value in the addition of fruits or nuts but there are plenty of other variations that are made to create the most amazing deluxe frozen treats ever.  Biscotti, tiramasu, Whiskey cream and what ever you can put your mind too. But I’m going to stick to the fruit or the nut kind.

So now I need to decide what kind of gelato machine I need. A brief look around the internet and some forums has led me to the conclusion that with gelato makers cheapest is not best.  This is probably true of all kitchen gadgets.  I love kitchen gadgets and do have to pull myself back on what I buy – champagne taste and beer budget and all that.   And the prices can get high – like in the thousands of dollars for a gelato maker – well – I’m not THAT in love with gelato yet.  But I do want something that will allow the whole process to be fun and easy – not a pain in the butt so that you never get the thing out and use it.  You know what I mean right??   So…..I’m going to put my order in for a electric gelato maker with a self refrigerating compressor.    I haven’t decided what kind yet.  They are pretty expensive – they start in the mid $200 range and on up after that – but no way am I messing with hand cranks, or refrigerator models.

Here is an interesting gelato that I’m going to try later in the summer–  (eggs and all).  I have wild blackberries and lemon basil in my garden.  Its from the blog ‘Flour on my Face’ Gotta love this girl!  She got her ice-cream maker from a yard sale for $7.  My kind of girl!

Blackberry and Lemon Basil Gelato
3 cups milk
1 1/2 cup lemon basil leaves, packed
1 tsp lemon juice
5 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
2 Tbs light corn syrup
1 pinch of salt
1 Quart Blackberries

Step One
Measure milk into heavy bottomed pan.
Crush one cup of lemon basil leaves and add to the pot.
Heat the milk and basil leaves on medium l heat and bring to a soft boil, stirring constantly to prevent scorching.  Allow to cool a bit and discard lemon basil leaves
Remove from heat and allow to slightly cool.

Step Two
Whisk together egg yolks, sugar, corn syrup and salt till creamy

Step Three
Slowly whisking one third of a cup of the hot milk to the yolks and pour the remaining milk into the bowl of the tempered egg yolks. Whisk until milk and egg mixtures are combined.  Return mix to pot

Step Four
Bring mixture to a soft boil, stirring constantly on medium heat. Cook until thick, custard is done when it coats the back of a spoon

Step Five
Strain the custard through a fine mesh strainer into a clean bowl and allow to completely cool, about 1 hour in the fridge.

Step Six
Blend blackberries, lemon juice and the reserved ½ cup of lemon basil leaves in a blender until berry pulp is smooth.  Pour mix into a strainer and allow juice to strain out into a bowl.

Step Seven
Remove custard from the fridge and stir in the blackberry juice.  Add some pulp (optional)

Step Eight
Process in your ice cream maker as per directions with your machine

Step Nine
Serve immediately place into an airtight container and freeze.

Enjoy!

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