For the Hazelnut Paste:
3/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted and skinned, plus extra, coarsely chopped, for optional garnish
1 tbsp. hazelnut oil or canola oil
1 tbsp. sugar
Pinch of salt
3 cups milk
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
4 1/2 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
To Make the Hazelnut Paste:
In a food processor, combine the 3⁄4 cup hazelnuts, the hazelnut oil, sugar and salt. Process until a thick paste forms, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. You should have about 1⁄3 cup paste.
In a heavy 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk and the hazelnut paste. Cook until bubbles form around the edges of the pan, about 5 minutes. Do not let the mixture boil.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the egg yolks, cream, sugar and salt. Whisk until smooth and the sugar begins to dissolve.
Remove the milk mixture from the heat. Gradually whisk about 1⁄2 cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture until smooth. Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon and keeping the custard at a low simmer, until it is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and leaves a clear trail when a finger is drawn through it, 4 to 6 minutes. Do not let the custard boil.
Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl, pour the hot custard over it and stir until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Place the bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice water, stirring occasionally until cool. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours.
Transfer the custard to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer the gelato to a freezer-safe container. Cover and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours or up to 3 days, before serving. Garnish each serving with chopped hazelnuts.
Makes about 1 quart.
Note: You may use 1/3 cup commercial hazelnut paste in place of the homemade paste in this recipe.
Recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Ice Cream, by Mary Goodbody (Simon & Schuster, 2003).
Date: June 18, 2004