Stracciatella Gelato is always a favorite. And yes you can make a good version at home. In fact, this recipe is a good starting point for learning to make it and any gelato. With strands of chocolate running through it, it resembles an Italian soup of the same name made with strands of egg and cheese.
After much research and much trial and error, I have developed some tips for successful gelato. Please check out this discussion and tips here. This is an easy starting gelato because it does contain some egg yolks, something that is not always the case with gelato, making it easier to have a smooth texture.
You also may be interested in seeing my full range of gelatos including lemon, banana chocolate chip, and strawberry.
Notes on Ingredients
Only three egg yolks are used in this Stracciatella Gelato recipe. This is about half the amount used in ice cream. The result is a lighter-fat dessert.
The chocolate is melted and added to the gelato right before finishing. A lighter, say 50% cocoa, can be used, but I prefer 63-70% cocoa.
Simple syrup is nothing more than sugar boiled in water. However, the impact of this transformation in gelato is almost magical. This is discussed in greater detail in my overview of gelato, but simply put, it is replacing large molecules of sugar with smaller ones making for a less icy texture.
Notes on Technique
This recipe builds a light vanilla custard to provide a base and contrast to the strands of chocolate. The milk and cream are heated with a split vanilla bean to accomplish this. It is then removed from the heat, and the seeds from the vanilla bean are scraped back into the milk/cream mixture. This will give a stronger vanilla taste. The cooled mixture then is added egg yolks warming them slightly before adding them back to the heat. The mixture is then cooked with the yolks. A thermometer should be used to make sure the mixture reaches the appropriate temperature.
Chocolate is melted with butter to be added to the gelato. A disposable pastry bag is perfect for this. However, if you do not have one a plastic storage bag can be used. In either case, a 1/4 inch (5 ml) snip in the corner provides the spout for the chocolate.
Macy’s Gelato Necessities
Visit a gelateria in Italy and you will notice the servers, called “gelatai” Italian, using paddles to constantly move the gelato, stirring and smoothing — almost zen-like. It breaks down the ice crystals giving a smoother tastier gelato.
If you have a gelato paddle – great, a strong spatula or ice cream scoop – fine, or even a large spoon will do. Do your version of the gelatai performance before serving; you will find it helps smooth your gelato.
Gelato is best when enjoyed fresh. It allows for the use of fresh fruit and other ingredients. Therefore, it is not intended for long-term storage. Furthermore, I have found that completely filling multiple pint containers (as opposed to one large container) improves storage time.
Even under the best of storage, after about 3 or 4 days, the gelato will become slightly bit icier. Still tasty, but not quite as good a texture.
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon simple syrup or corn syrup
- 1 whole vanilla bean, split
- pinch of salt
- 3 egg yolks
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70% cocao)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- In a saucepan, combine milk, cream, sugar, simple syrup, salt, and the split vanilla bean. Cook gently over medium-low heat until just starting to steam. (approximately 140°F, 60°C) . Remove from heat, remove the vanilla bean and with the side of a paring knife, scrape the vanilla bean seeds back into the mixture. Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes or so to cool.
- In a medium-size bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Slow add in the cooled milk, cream mixture about ¼ cup at a time until about 1 - 1 ½ cups are added. Stir as you go, to avoid cooking the yolks.
- Pour the yolk mixture into the saucepan with the remaining mixture. Return the pan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon or until it reaches approximately 165° to 170°F. (Note 1) Do not allow the mixture to boil.
- Remove from heat and continue stirring to cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, strain the mixture with a fine strainer into a bowl or container large enough to store the mixture. The straining will remove the larger or clumped vanilla seeds and any solids may have formed.
- Allow the mixture to cool so that it is no longer steaming. Stirring occasionally to quicken the process. Cover and place into the refrigerator to completely cool for at east 3 hours or preferably overnight.
- Prepare for melting the chocolate in a double boiler. If you do not have a double boiler create one by using a small saucepan partially filled with water and a bowl that can fit on top. Chop the chocolate and set in a small bowl or the insert of a double boiler. Add butter to the chocolate.
- Churn the gelato according to the manufacturer's instructions. Notice the time of the machine or the instructions to determine how long the freezing should take. You will use the estimated completion time to time the chocolate in the next step.
- While churning, melt the chocolate slowly in the double boiler. Time the steps as follows. You will want to add the chocolate to the gelato with about 2-3 minutes of churning left. Before that, you will want to remove the chocolate from over the hot water for a few minutes to cool slightly.
- Spoon the chocolate mixture into a disposable pastry bag or into a zip-lock storage bag. Snip a very small opening on the bottom of the pastry bag (or the corner of the zip-lock bag). Drizzle the chocolate to the churning gelato allowing the chocolate to spread through the gelato. (Note: If the chocolate starts clumping in an area, briefly hold a small spatula in to freezer to change the flow of the gelato.
- When finished the gelato should still be soft. Spoon the gelato into freezer tubs and chill for 2 to 3 hours before serving.
Note 1: Commercial gelato and ice cream producers heat the mixture up to 185°F to make sure the yokes are fully cooked. Please consider your source of eggs and if anyone consuming your gelato has impaired immunity systems. If you need to cook to a higher temperature, stir constantly, and make sure you strain well.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 235Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 78mgSodium: 40mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 2gSugar: 16gProtein: 4g
Calculated Nutrition is estimated.