Gelato alla crema is a symbol of everything that I love in traditional Italian cooking: it’s simple, it’s elegant, and it’s undeniably delicious.
Gelato alla crema, or Crème Anglaise Gelato, is possibly the original gelato recipe. It’s given it’s creaminess thanks to the naturally emulsifying and gelling qualities of the egg yolk, though a few more grams of natural thickeners and stabilizers give it some help. Dextrose (as opposed to table sugar) also helps in making the gelato softer as it keeps the sucrose from crystalizing. If your local grocer doesn’t carry it, you can order it online.
My gelato alla crema is an excellent gelato recipe for first-time gelato makers. Note that there is preparation required before you actually get cooking: have everything ready before you start pulling the ingredients out.
Ready to get started? Here’s what you’ll need.
*Can be purchased from online retailers
Set your freezer at the coldest setting possible and place the ice cream machine’s canister and serving bowls in the freezer at least 12 hours before. Place the intended storage container and serving cups in the freezer. Take the eggs out of the refrigerator and let them come to room temperature before starting.
Mix the milk powder, dextrose, and the stabilizers. Be careful with the stabilizers, only a few grams are necessary and it is hard to weigh them on a regular scale. If in doubt, less is better than more.
Make a lengthwise incision in the vanilla bean.
Place the milk, all but two tablespoons of the cream, and vanilla bean in a saucepan.Mix the sugar and egg yolks with a mixer until much whiter. Weigh the egg yolks—you must be precise!— and use only what you need. Discard the rest.
Gently mix the rest of the powders in with the egg yolk and sugar.
In the meantime bring the milk and cream to a near boil, but don’t let it actually boil or you’ll lose flavor.
Mix the rest of the cold cream in with the egg yolk mixture.
Remove the vanilla bean from the hot milk.
Slowly add the hot milk, drip-by- drip at first, while mixing with the hand mixer. Be careful to only add a little at the time or you’ll cook the eggs.The more hot milk and cream you incorporate, the more you can safely incorporate at the time.
Once you have incorporated all the milk, switch to the immersion blender.
Keep blending the mixture for a few minutes with the immersion blender.
Put everything but the vanilla bean back in the saucepan and on the stove on medium heat.
Keep mixing with the immersion blender until you reach 185˚ F. Once at this temperature, lower the heat and maintain it for two minutes while still mixing with the blender. You must absolutely avoid bringing the batch to a boil or you will cook the eggs.
Transfer the mixture to a bowl, and cover it carefully with plastic wrap. You must cover it carefully because it could pick up undesirable aromas from your refrigerator. Put it in the refrigerator for 6 hours or until it reaches 42˚ F. If you are in a hurry, it can easily stay there for 24 hours.
Once the batch has cooled, mix it with the immersion blender for 2 minutes minutes before putting it in the ice cream maker.
The gelato should firm up in the ice cream maker in about 15-20 minutes, or when it’s thick and stands vertically away from the canister walls. At this point, you will likely need to put the gelato in the freezer for another 10 minutes to help it finish freezing.
Ideally you would serve it immediately after it has spent ten minutes in the freezer, because it is at its most creamy and delectable then. If you wait longer than about 30 minutes, it will become hard. In this case, it’s best to place the container in the refrigerator for about 5-10 minutes to let soften gently. The gelato will be delicate and is best served in frozen bowls.