Caramel Hazelnut Gelato {Labor Day Ice Cream Social}

My husband’s cousins had just left my house. We’d had a fabulous day of making ice cream and lunch, and sharing it together.  I felt happy.  I went to the freezer to pull out the caramel hazelnut gelato so I could have one more tiny little taste. As I licked the spoon and closed my eyes, I said to myself, “This tastes like comfort.”

But why did it taste like comfort? I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Something about this gelato made me feel like someone was enveloping me in a warm, loving embrace.

I told my husband that it tasted like comfort and he replied that it reminded him of Tiramisu.  “That’s impossible,” I said.  “Tiramisu doesn’t have hazelnuts in it.  It’s got to be something else.”  He shrugged and went back to what he was doing.

But then I had another spoonful and suddenly I was 18 and in Italy trying gelato for the first time.  I had no idea what Tiramisu was.  I hadn’t really tasted hazelnuts much.  (Wait, weren’t those the nuts in those Ferrero Rocher I loved so much?)  Taste after taste at the gelateria, until I decided which flavor I wanted in that giant cone.  Tiramisu and hazelnut, I think, are the two I chose.  It’s hard to remember for sure.  I spent as much time eating my way through every gelateria in every town and village we visited as I did in visiting cathedrals and museums.

It wasn’t so much that it tasted like Tiramisu, as it it tasted like a feeling.  “Italy is a feeling,” my grandmother always says.  Our mutual love for Italy frequently comes up in conversation, and frequently it involves talking about the food we ate while we were there, decades apart.  Someday I hope we can go there together – sooner rather than later.

I ate another spoonful.  The rich ice cream melted on my tongue and I chewed the hazelnuts, soft from steeping in hot milk.  The burnt sugar flavor mixed with the toasted hazelnuts did remind me a little of coffee, another of my favorite flavors of ice cream.

This recipe is more than just the cream, egg yolks, milk, sugar and hazelnuts.  It’s a recipe made of memories, and I didn’t even realize it until I was there, (almost) alone in my kitchen, the kids playing in the room adjacent to where I was standing, and dreaming I was 18 years old tasting gelato for the first time again.  And if that’s not comfort, I don’t know what is.

As summer draws to a close, Becky had the idea to get a bunch of us food bloggers together for a fun Labor Day Ice Cream Social. For a dozen more tasty ice cream recipes and topping check out these posts by some of my favorite bloggers:

Becky of Project Domestication
Becky of Vintage Mixer
Carrian of Sweet Basil
Holly of Phemomenon
Kelly of Mountain Mamma Cooks
Krista of Budget Gourmet Mom
Karen of 365 Days of Slow Cooking
Marie of Food Nouveau
Rachel of A Southern Fairytale
Shawn of I Wash You Dry
Stephanie of Queen Scarlett
Stephanie of Lick My Spoon
Wendy of 101 Gourmet Series

Caramel Hazelnut Gelato
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A creamy delicious gelato with the deep flavor of caramel paired with hazelnut.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 1½ quarts
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 6-8 egg yolks
  • ¾ cup evaporated cane sugar, divided
  • ½ cup hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract, optional
Instructions
  1. Place hazelnuts and whole milk in a 2 quart saucepan and heat until very hot, but not boiling. Remove from heat and let steep for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
  2. Place ½ cup evaporated cane sugar in another larger saucepan. Over medium-high heat, melt the sugar, swirling the pan as necessary until all of the sugar is melted and has turned golden brown. Remove from heat and quickly add the heavy cream. Place back on heat and simmer over medium heat with a fork or whisk to dissolve any hardened bits of caramel. Add the salt and strain the hazelnut milk into the pan. Reserve the nuts. If necessary, heat the liquid again until very hot. (It will probably be just fine if the caramel was very hot when you added the milk.)
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the remaining ¼ cup sugar with the egg yolks until thick and light in color. Drizzle the hot cream/milk mixture into the eggs a little at a time to temper them. Pour the entire mixture back into the larger saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly (I use a whisk for this), until the temperature reaches 170 degrees F, or the custard coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and immediately pour through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl. Add the vanilla extract.
  4. Let the custard cool a bit before covering with plastic wrap and refrigerating. Chill overnight or at least 3 hours. Or if you’re in a hurry, you can chill it quickly in the freezer for about 30-45 minutes.
  5. Churn in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer directions. During the last minute or 30 seconds of churning, add the reserved hazelnuts. (They will be soft after absorbing some of the milk as they steeped.) Transfer to a freezer-proof container and freeze until firm enough to scoop.
  6. Yields about 1½ quarts.

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14 Responses to “Caramel Hazelnut Gelato {Labor Day Ice Cream Social}”

  1. Helene Dsouza August 27, 2012 at 3:15 pm #

    interesting that u add cane sugar in your recipe.

    I am so tempted by your hazelnut ice cream, if I wasn’t sane, I d lick my screen off. ^.^

    Of all the Italian gelati, I always choose freshly made hazelnut and yoghurt ice cream. =)

  2. Cookin' Canuck August 27, 2012 at 4:31 pm #

    Hazelnut is truly one of my favorite flavors in ice cream (fueled by a long-ago trip to Italy). This is a must-try for me!

  3. Becky @ Project Domestication August 27, 2012 at 5:15 pm #

    Such a great ice cream to tell a story. I felt transported to your memories of Italy. And you had me at soft, chewy hazelnuts!

    Oh what it would be like to be 18 again!

    Loved this ice cream social! Indeed we’ll do it again!

  4. Shawn @ I Wash...You Dry August 27, 2012 at 5:53 pm #

    MMmmm! Sounds so rich and creamy! I love Hazelnuts, this is a must make!

  5. Queen Scarlett August 27, 2012 at 6:14 pm #

    Clearly, I NEED an actual ice cream maker. YUM.

  6. Carrian Cheney August 27, 2012 at 6:50 pm #

    I don’t know how you always do it, but you do. Amazeballs ice cream darlin. Seriously. I posted the dulce de leche on my site to send a little extra your way. MWah!

  7. Barbara Bakes August 27, 2012 at 11:23 pm #

    This post takes me back to Italy too. Great gelato!

  8. Wendy Lu August 28, 2012 at 12:48 am #

    Yum! You had me at caramel!

  9. Leslie August 28, 2012 at 1:12 am #

    Hazelnut gelato is my absolute favorite!

  10. Marie August 28, 2012 at 2:04 am #

    Another homerun – Lindsey I think you’re the iced treats princess! I’m not usually so fond of nuts in ice cream, but caramel and hazelnuts sound so good together that it’ll be hard to resist (plus, hazelnuts is Eric’s favorite nut!)
    Thank you again for inviting me to be part of the ice cream social, I’m really enjoying all the recipes that have been posted. I have to get the machine churning!

  11. Cooking on a Dime August 28, 2012 at 4:01 am #

    Wow. Sounds amazing.

  12. mountain mama cooks August 28, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

    Another gorgeous recipe! A beautiful story and that ice cream looks unbelievable!!

  13. Marina@Picnic at Marina August 28, 2012 at 5:21 pm #

    That is one of the best gelatos ever… It makes it the best by memories it brings.

  14. Annalise August 29, 2012 at 11:55 pm #

    Holy moly, this ice cream sounds fantastic! And gorgeous photos, as always!

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