A Taste of Red : Strawberry Stracciatella Gelato (GF, Egg Free)
Bill Blass is supposed to have said, “Red is the ultimate cure for sadness”. If this so, then we are an extremely happy family right now. My kitchen has been taken over by the season’s fruits and vegetables and strawberries (and red winter carrots) rule here at the moment. Another three weeks and strawberries will start disappearing from the market to return only a year later.
I don’t remember liking strawberries very much. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that they were so expensive when we were last in Goa or that I never saw them in the last four years (they weren’t available in Kochi). They are cheaper now and I do enjoy the sensation of biting into a sweet and juicy strawberry and am exploring different ways to eat them. Gelato (I won’t call it ice-cream because it has no cream in it) was an automatic choice as we’re always game for ice-cream. It’s January and very pleasant here but not really cold. In fact, out here its ice-cream weather all the year round!
As I was making the gelato it struck me that chocolate pairs excellently with strawberries and I also remembered a stracciatella gelato I had seen a while back at Angela’s blog, A Spoonful of Sugar. She used an ice-cream maker while I don’t have one and am not likely to buy one either. When I asked her she sent me the procedure to make stracciatella without the ice-cream maker (even though making it in an ice-cream maker would result in a better texture) and that’s how I did it.
But what is stracciatella? In Italian, “stracciato” means “torn apart” and normally describes a soup into which egg is incorporated such that it forms shreds/ stracciatelle in the soup.
It also refers to thin bits of chocolate in gelato which is what this recipe is about. Stracciatella gelato is made by finely drizzling melted chocolate onto frozen ice-cream (usually vanilla). The chocolate solidifies into thin pieces when it hits the cold ice-cream. This is broken up by lightly stirring the ice-cream. The result is a smooth ice-cream/ gelato with the slightest crunch/ crackle of chocolate and a wonderful experience.
For the ice-cream :
For the stracciatella:
- Put the chopped strawberries in a bowl and add the sugar, honey, lemon juice and salt. Mix well and refrigerate this for about 30 minutes.
- In the meanwhile, boil the all the milk except half a cup. Once it starts boiling, turn the heat down to medium. To the half cup of cold milk, add the custard powder/ cornstarch and mix well to dissolve it. Add this to the boiling milk and keep stirring till the milk thickens to a custard consistency. Take off the heat and allow to cool to room temperature, while stirring the custard frequently to prevent a skin from forming.
- Take the strawberry mixture out and puree it. Add the vanilla extract and the milk custard and blend well. Pour into a plastic or metal bowl, cover it and freeze.
- Then follow Angela’s advice to me which was “Pour it into a plastic freezer box , cover the surface with clingfilm, put a lid on and freeze. Thereafter re-mix with a fork every 30 minutes until it reaches the right consistency. The ice cream should be eaten within 3 weeks; before serving, remove it to the main body of the refrigerator for 20 minutes to soften.
- When you think the ice-cream has almost reached the right texture, then melt your chocolate oil together over hot water. Let it cool slightly and then quickly drizzle a little over the surface of the ice-cream. It should set on contact and then you need to quickly stir the chocolate into the ice-cream, breaking up any long strands of chocolate into small pieces. Keep repeating until the chocolate is used up. You may need to pop the ice-cream back in the freezer during this process if it starts to melt.”
- It is important to drizzle the chocolate in a thin stream and this can be done using a fork. That would give you the perfect texture. I’m afraid my drizzling technique left a lot to be desired, and I did get a few slightly larger pieces of chocolate in my gelato but we enjoyed it all the same.
- In fact, I made the gelato to serve after lunch but my husband and our daughter decided they were having it for dessert after breakfast! Of course, I joined them. Who can resist the lure of chocolate and ice-cream?
- Never had dessert after breakfast? Try this gelato on a Sunday, it’s quite an experience.