On my first visit to Torino, Italy, I arrived in rabid pursuit of gianduja, a confection made from local hazelnuts ground with milk chocolate that is a specialty of the Piedmont region. I was also looking forward to having gianduja gelato at the source. Needless to say, I did not leave disappointed: every bakery, chocolate shop, and gelateria offered jars of gianduja for spreading, traditional triangular tablets for nibbling and by the scoop for licking. I was in hazelnut heaven.
Be sure to toast the hazelnuts well and use top-quality dark milk chocolate with at least 30 percent cocoa solids, for best results.
- 1½ cups hazelnuts, toasted
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 cups heavy cream, divided
- ¾ cup sugar
- ¼ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- 4 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
- 5 large egg yolks
- 1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Rub the hazelnuts in a kitchen towel to remove as much of the papery skins as possible, then chop them into pieces the size of lemon seeds in a food processor or blender.
- Warm the milk with 1 cup of the cream, the sugar and the salt in a saucepan. Once warm, remove from the heat and add the chopped hazelnuts. Cover and let steep at room temperature for 1 hour.
- Put the milk chocolate in a large bowl. Heat the remaining 1 cup cream in a medium saucepan until it just begins to boil. Pour it over the milk chocolate and stir until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Set a mesh strainer over the top.
- Pour the hazelnut-infused milk through a strainer into a medium saucepan, squeezing the nuts firmly with your hands to extract as much of the flavorful liquid as possible. Discard the hazelnuts (see Note).
- Rewarm the hazelnut infused mixture. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm hazelnut mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks into the saucepan. Stir the mixture constantly with a heatproof spatula over medium heat, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the milk chocolate mixture. Add the vanilla and stir over an ice bath until cool.
- Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Note: Most of the flavor will have been extracted from the hazelnuts after they’re infused in the milk, but if you wish to reuse them, to add crunch to a batch of homemade granola or to mix into a batch of brownies, they can be rinsed well, spread out a baking sheet and dried out in a low oven.
- Reprinted with permission from The Perfect Scoop Revised and Updated, copyright © 2018 by David Lebovitz. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photographs copyright © 2018 by Ed Anderson