Granddaughter Grace’s verdict on my homemade mango gelato: “It tastes as good as store ice cream.” Not quite the endorsement I was hoping for.
I think what Grace was “complimenting” me on was the gelato’s consistency, smooth and creamy, free of the stabilizers and other additives found in commercially made ice cream. Mango’s gelatinous quality contributes to that mouthfeel, and so does a custard base made by incorporating egg yolks.
When I used the same base to make strawberry gelato, Grace got it. “This tastes like fresh strawberries!” I agreed. To me, these gelatos tasted more vibrantly of fruit than any I’ve tasted outside an Italian gelateria.
Gelato is Italian for ice cream so it’s a catch-all term. But the word refers also to a style that, compared to American ice cream, is less rich, allowing the flavoring to come forward. That’s especially true with fruit gelatos. You can really taste the mangos, strawberries, peaches.
Artisanal Italian gelato is churned more slowly, introducing less air, and resulting in a denser texture—also true of gelato you make at home.
Using the best seasonal fruit makes a difference. I can’t wait for summer peaches and local blackberries.
For my ice cream maker, I’m always aiming at 3½ cups of gelato mixture. Once the ice cream has churned, aerating the mixture, you end up with a quart.
Leave out the dairy to make watermelon granita that transports you to Palermo. If you haven’t tried a granita, think snow cone or flavored ice. No need for an ice cream maker. Serve granita in a pretty glass or, if for children, consider pouring the pureed mixture into ice pop molds before freezing.
Adults might enjoy a scoop of watermelon granita in a slushy spritz with Campari and prosecco.
When you’re in gelato and granita making mode, it’s never wrong to serve them together. Fruity sweetness in two distinctive forms, creamy and icy.
- 1½ cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ cup sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 honey mangos peeled, pitted, flesh cut in chunks (about 1½ cups)
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
Place ice cream maker bowl in freezer several hours in advance.
Bring milk, cream, sugar and sea salt to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Turn off heat. Mix some of hot liquid with egg yolks. Gradually mix back into saucepan mixture. Cook over low heat, stirring, until slightly thickened. Cool to room temperature.
Use blender to puree mango chunks with lime juice. Mix into cooled gelato mixture. Chill well.
Following directions on your ice cream maker, churn liquid until it turns thick and creamy. Transfer to a storage container.
To serve: Transfer from freezer to refrigerator or counter to soften slightly before scooping.
Strawberry or Frutti di Bosco Gelato: For mangos, substitute 1 quart fresh strawberries, pureed, and omit lime juice. For frutti di bosco gelato, use a mixture of strawberries, raspberries and blackberries, pureed and strained to eliminate seeds.
- 4 1/2 cups seeded watermelon chunks 1/4 medium watermelon
- 1/3 cup sugar or to taste
- Mint sprigs
If using an ice cream maker, place bowl in freezer several hours in advance.
Puree watermelon in a blender (makes about 3 cups puree).
Combine sugar and 1 large mint sprig in a stainless steel bowl. Add 1 cup boiling water, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cool. Remove mint.
Stir watermelon puree into sugar mixture.
Cover and place bowl in freezer; while mixture is still liquid or semi-liquid, remove from freezer at half-hour intervals to scrape down sides and blend ice granules with liquid. The texture will be coarse.
To serve: Transfer bowl from freezer to refrigerator or counter to soften. Break up granita with a knife and scoop into pretty glasses.