Last weekend, Lygon St was engulfed by the almighty Gelato World Tour. The public swarmed around the 16 gelato artisans, deftly dishing out their frozen creations in hopes of triumphing the Oceania chapter of the Tour. It was a colourful, wondrous, sugar-fuelled fantasia.
The Gelato World Tour commenced in Rome March 2013, and stopped at Valencia before landing in Melbourne. From Melbourne, the gelato road show will travel through Dubai, Sao Paolo, Shanghai, Austin and Deutschland. Up to 16 top gelati specialists from each region, handpicked from an expert panel, will be selected for each stage of the competition. Scoring is based 50% on the determination of an expert judging panel, and 50% on the public’s vote. The winners from each stage will battle it out on the ‘G-Day’ grand finale, in Rimini, Italy, in September 2014.
That is a year and a half voyage, dedicated to scouring the globe in order to pinpoint the master of this frozen art-form. I’m picturing a thoroughly dramatic Italian finale, with the victor pounding to the finish line bearing their Olympic-torch-shaped champion gelato.
Gelato Messina’s decadent ‘Cremino’ flavour took the honours of Oceania’s best gelato, and had the added affirmation of being voted the people’s choice, as well as the favourite of the technical judging panel. Cremino is a sumptuous combination of subtly salted caramel gelato, hunks of rich chewy gianduia fudge, fresh meringue crumbs and flecks of crushed caramel. It will do a fine job representing Australia on the world stage.
Despite all the fierce competition, the essence of this tour is preserving and promoting the artisan gelato making techniques proudly guarded by the Carpigiani Gelato University (that’s right, a university dedicated to the art of gelato. It certainly sounds significantly more enticing than my old stomping grounds at La Trobe University’s Bundoora Campus). These are techniques founded long before the time of electricity. Before electric ice-cream churns were invented. This was my thought process, when, in my sugar fuelled delirium I decided that I would emulate my gelato superheros and make gelati that night by hand.
Disclaimer: I do not profess to be a gelato expert, artisan or any sort of authority on the matter. I just enjoy ice cream immensely, and until I get to Carpigiani , this recipe is a delicious stop gap.
For this recipe, I started with a basic vanilla flavoured gelato. From here, your options are completely limitless – use it as a blank canvass to get creative, or keep a batch of lovely vanilla gelato on hand. As someone who has been known to sit on the ducted heating vent in the dead of Melbourne’s winter relishing an icy bowl of gelato…. this could get seriously addictive.
Cashew is such a sweet and creamy nut that, gelato-wise, it sits amongst the ranks of the traditional pistachio and macadamia nuts. A little sea salt tossed through the cashews really heightens the flavours in this gelato. When the bitter crunch of the dark chocolate chips melt on your tongue, it sets-off the sweet vanilla gelato and slight salt on the cashews. I love the texture of the buttery little nubs of cashew, but you could also blend the cashews to a paste if you prefer a smoother gelato.
(Adapted from the Silver Spoon cookbook, Phaidon)
- 2.5 cups of milk.
- 1/2 a cup of cream.
- 4 egg yolks.
- 1 vanilla bean, or 1 tsp vanilla extract.
- 100g 70% dark chocolate.
- 100g cashews, finely chopped with a pinch of sea salt, or blended into a paste.
- 1/2 cup caster sugar.
- 1 tablespoon Frangelico (optional).
- Heat the milk, cream and vanilla until it begins to simmer around the edges.
- Beat the egg yolks with the caster sugar until pale and fluffy.
- Gradually add the warm milk to the eggs, stirring continuously.
- Return the mixture to the heat, and stir continuously until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Cool mixture and fold through the cashews.
- Place into the freezer for 30 minutes. Remove from the freezer whisk until smooth, eliminating any ice-crystals. Drizzle with the melted chocolate and stir to distribute into chocolate chips throughout the gelato. Place the gelato back in the freezer for half an hour, whisk again, and repeat every half hour until the mixture is frozen. (Or freeze in an ice-cream maker).
- Let it soften slightly before serving. This is enjoyed best within a few days of making it.