How to Make Gelato: Tips and Recipes to Make the Delightful Italian Frozen Treat | Marie Asselin | Skillshare

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How to Make Gelato: Tips and Recipes to Make the Delightful Italian Frozen Treat

teacher avatar Marie Asselin, Cookbook Writer, Translator, Stylist

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Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Lesson 1 / How to Make Gelato: An Introduction


    • 2.

      Lesson 2 / How Is Gelato Different from Ice Cream?


    • 3.

      Lesson 3 / Do You Need an Ice Cream Maker?


    • 4.

      Lesson 4 / Pro Tips to Make Gelato


    • 5.

      Lesson 5 / Sicilian-Style Gelato Base


    • 6.

      Lesson 6 / Fruit-Based Gelato


    • 7.

      Lesson 7 / Pistachio Gelato: How to Make Your Own Pistachio Paste


    • 8.

      Lesson 8 / Dark Chocolate Gelato


    • 9.

      Lesson 9 / Making Vegan Gelato


    • 10.

      Lesson 10 / How to Serve Gelato: Creative Tips to Make Homemade Gelato Even Better


    • 11.

      Lesson 11 / Final Thoughts: Let's Get Churning!


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About This Class

If you’ve ever been to Italy or dreamed of travelling there, chances are you’ve heard of gelato, the delightful icy treat made extremely famous by the bestselling book Eat, Pray, Love. But what is gelato? Is it just a fancy name for ice cream?

In this class, I will explain exactly what makes gelato different from ice cream, give you my pro tips to make and serve outstanding gelato, and show you how to make a versatile gelato base you can turn into a variety of flavors, from vanilla bean to blueberry to pistachio, and many more. I will even show you how to make dairy-free, vegan gelato, a tasty variation everyone will love, whether they need to abide by a special diet or not.

Skill level: This class is perfect for all skill levels. Beginners will appreciate how easy the Sicilian-Style Gelato Base is to make, while experienced cooks will find inspiration to expand their sweets repertoire.


Important Note: This class requires the use of an ice cream machine. Find more information about this on the Project Description page and in Lesson 3 of the class.

Meet Your Teacher

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Marie Asselin

Cookbook Writer, Translator, Stylist


Marie is an award-winning cookbook writer and translator, recipe developer, and food stylist based in Québec City. She’s a frequent traveler who loves chronicling her discoveries from around the world and sharing recipes inspired by her trips.

Marie is the author of Simply Citrus, a colorful cookbook filled with sweet and savory citrus-based recipes, and French Appetizers, a cookbook dedicated to the art of enjoying happy hour, the unfussy, French way. She's also the voice of 10-year-old culinary blog Food Nouveau, and the teacher of the popular Skillshare class How to Make French Macarons.

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1. Lesson 1 / How to Make Gelato: An Introduction: Hi everyone, I'm Marie. I'm a food writer, recipe developer, and unconditional sweets lover. If you've ever been to Italy or dreamed of traveling there, chances are you've heard of Gelato. The delightful icy treat made famous by a certain movie. But what is Gelato exactly? Is it just a fancy name for ice cream? Before I myself went to Italy for the first time many years ago, I had heard all about the awesomeness of Gelato. Everyone who had tasted it seemed to possess by the memory of its taste, its creaminess, and intense flavor. No one seemed to know exactly what it was. Was it ice cream, or sorbet, or something else? But what they knew is that it was heavenly. Of course when I had my first spoonful of Gelato in Rome I fell in love with it. The taste of Gelato is very intense and pure, the colors are vivid, and the texture is very keen. I came back from Italy excited to find out what it is, how it's made, and what makes it so delightful. How do you make it at home? In this class, I will explain what exactly makes Gelato different from ice cream. I will give you my pro tips to make and serve outstanding Gelato. I will show you how to make a versatile Gelato base you can turn into a variety of flavors from vanilla bean to blueberries to pistachio and many more. I will even show you how to make your dairy free vegan Gelato, a tasty variation everyone will love, whether they need to abide by a special diet or not. In short, this class will probably save you a trip to Rome. You can thank me later. 2. Lesson 2 / How Is Gelato Different from Ice Cream?: So what is gelato and how's it different from ice-cream? Well, gelato differs from ice-cream in three different ways. First, gelato contains less fat than ice cream. That's good news. Ice-cream's main ingredient is cream, whereas gelato is made many for milk. Some gelato recipes uses small quantity of cream and some use only milk. Gelato also uses less egg yolks then does regular custard Bayes ice-cream. Although that depends on the recipe. There are probably just as many recipes of gelato as there are Italians in Italy. What happens with ice-cream, is that the fat coats the tongue in a lovely silky way, but it also tends to mute flavors. The gelato's lower fat content could explain why people tend to find it stays brighter and more intense. The second thing that makes gelato different from ice-cream, is that it has a denser texture. Gelato is churn that a lower speed than regular ice-cream, which means that the finished product contains less air than ice cream. That's what creates the lovely, denser texture of gelato. Finally, gelato is served at a warmer temperature than ice-cream. Storing gelato at a warmer temperature, makes it softer, providing its signature silky texture. Ice cool treats tend to numb the tongue because gelato is soft, you feel like you're having a richer treat than what it's fat content indicates. The warmer serving temperature also allows the flavor to come through better. 3. Lesson 3 / Do You Need an Ice Cream Maker?: So I'm sure many of you are wondering, do you really need an ice cream maker to make gelato? The short answer is yes. If you want to achieve the silky, smooth, creamy texture of gelato, you really do need an ice cream maker. The ice cream maker freezes the custard very slowly while stirring it continuously, and this is what creates the super fine texture free of ice crystals, or harder chunks. The one I use is a basic Cuisinart two cards ice cream maker. I've had it for years, it's reliable, easy to clean, and it's not too expensive. You can find it online these days for about $70. The way it works is that you need to keep the bowl of the ice cream maker in the freezer, and when you're ready to turn the ice cream, you put it into the machine, pour the custard in and turn the machine on. It's super basic so it doesn't have a timer or any other setting then the off/on switch. So you do need to keep an eye on the gelato to decide when it's ready to be transferred to its storage container and put into the freezer. It usually takes between 20 and 25 minutes, so I simply set myself a timer and come back to it once it's done. The downside of this type of ice cream maker is that the bowl can only be used to turn one batch of gelato or ice cream then you need to clean the bowl and put it back into the freezer for several hours before you can use it again. This is usually fine for household use, but if you need to turn more than one batch in a day, you can purchase additional bowls like this for about $30 each. If you're a big-time gelato lover, or if you need to make several batches of gelato, you might want to invest in an ice cream maker equipped with a built-in compressor. Those appliances are very handy because you simply plug them in and churn, no need to freeze the bowl beforehand. They are a lot more expensive though, basic models start at around $400, so you need to carefully evaluate your needs before indulging. Some companies now offers specialty appliances labeled as Gelato Makers, but they are basically identical to ice cream makers with additional settings that allow you to churn at lower speeds. This Cuisinart ice cream maker actually has a newer model that has three speed settings, one for ice cream, one for gelato, and I think the other one it's a little bit more expensive than this one, it's about $125 or something like that. But you should know that all home ice cream makers on the market churn at a much lower speed than commercial ice cream makers, which make them perfectly suited for making gelato. 4. Lesson 4 / Pro Tips to Make Gelato: Let me give you four handy tips that will help you make and serve outstanding Gelato. First, let the custard cool completely before churning. This is essential to avoid ice crystals from forming and create the best and silkiest texture. Once your Gelato base is done, you can speed up the cooling process by setting the saucepan into an ice bath, or by placing it in the fridge. But what I find the easiest way to make sure my Gelato base is truly cold before I turn it is to prepare it in advance. I often make it the night before and churn it the next day. My second pro tip is to use a Sicilian-Style Gelato base. This is the one I will be demonstrating in this class. This variety of Gelato, uses less eggs and a little bit of corn starch to thicken the cream, which makes for a really lovely silky texture. It's also much easier to make them the regular egg yolk base, because you don't need to deal with temperamental egg yolks that can curdle and cook and make your custard grainy if you heat them too quickly. Both the egg york-based custard and the Sicilian-style gelato base are just as versatile. If you're not afraid of making custards, by all means, go ahead and go to the traditional route. You'll find a recipe for a classic egg yolk Gelato base in the class notes. But if you want to make your Gelato life a little easier, I strongly recommend using a Sicilian-style Gelato base. My third pro tip is about service. Remember I told you that Gelato was stored at a warmer temperature than regular ice cream? You can replicate those conditions by bringing the Gelato back to room temperature 15 minutes before service. Doing so will soften it just so that it's easier to spoon and so much better to eat. My final pro tip is dress it up. Be creative when it comes to serving Gelato. You can make a simple vanilla bean Gelato even better by serving it with fresh fruits, a collie, cookie crumbs or even browny chunks sprinkled over. Later in the class, I will provide a few ideas to get you started. 5. Lesson 5 / Sicilian-Style Gelato Base: The first recipe we're going to make is the Sicilian-style gelato base. You'll use this base as a foundation to create countless gelato flavors. In this class, we will make three different gelati using this base. The first one is the blueberry gelato, which is an example of any fruit based gelato. Then we're going to make the chocolate gelato and pistachio gelato. You'll find many more recipes in the class notes. Here are the ingredients you need to make the Sicilian-style gelato base. You need two-and-a-quarter cups of whole milk, three-quarter cups of heavy cream, or thirty-five percent fat content cream. Three-quarter cups of granulated sugar, two tablespoons of cornstarch, and one egg yolk. Making this base is super-simple. The first thing you need to do is to heat up a cup and a quarter of the milk and the heavy cream together. Just pour them in a medium saucepan over medium heat. What you want is to bring the milk and cream mixture just hot enough that it forms little bubbles around the edge of the pan, but don't bring it to a boil. While the milk is heating up, we're going to combine the rest of the milk, the sugar, and the cornstarch together. Just whisk it until the corn starch is completely incorporated into the milk. When the milk and cream mixture is hot, slowly add the cornstarch mixture into it and a whisk constantly to incorporate. Make sure all the sugar goes into the pan as well because it may not have diluted completely into the milk. You want all that sweetness into the gelato. So you stir constantly. You can lower the heat a little bit and you're going to simmer that mixture stirring constantly for about six to eight minutes or until it's thickened. When you can feel that the mixture has thickened somewhat like heavy cream, like seems heavy and luscious and it coats the spoon, you can turn off the heat. Now what you need to do is to slowly heat the egg yolk by adding a little bit of the hot cream into it. First, you're going to whisk it until the egg is well combined and looks a little paler than its usual yellow. When it does, you can put it aside. You're going to add just a little bit of the hot cream, very slowly, while whisking the egg. What you want is to slowly heat the egg yolk without cooking it. You don't want it to clog or form scrambled eggs. So add more of the hot milk mixture. When you see that the egg seems really warm and cream is well incorporated, transfer the egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan. Mix well to incorporate the egg yolk and you can even whisk a little bit if you want, to make sure there are no lumps. The egg yolk is going to cook in the residual heat. The base is done. If you wanted to make a vanilla bean gelato, you would add a half vanilla bean to the mixture at this point. So the seeds from the vanilla bean seep into the milk and infuse it with the flavor while it cools. But today we're going to make a fruit-based gelato, so we're not going to use the vanilla. What you need now is to let the base cool completely before you churn it or add any other ingredients to it, such as nuts or fruits. To speed up the cooling process, you can place the saucepan into an ice bath and stir the base from time to time. Or you can put the whole saucepan into the fridge until it's completely cool. What I usually do is to transfer the base into an air-tight container like this, cover it up, and then place it in the fridge until it's completely cool. 6. Lesson 6 / Fruit-Based Gelato: Now I want to show you how to make a fruit Gelato. What you basically need to turn the base we made earlier into a fruit Gelato is two cups of fruit puree. You're going to add that to the Gelato base and churn both together. You can use whatever food you want. Today, I'm going to use Bavaria, which I'm going to sweeten with maple syrup. The process to make fruit puree is very similar from one foot to the next with the difference of the sugar quantity that you need to use and whether you need to strain the mixture or not. I've included instructions to make many variations of fruit Gelato in the class notes. To make the blueberry puree, you need three cups of fresh or frozen blueberries, a quarter cup of maple syrup, or you can use sugar or honey, and two tablespoons of lemon juice. Mix all the ingredients together in a saucepan and bring it to a simmer over medium heat. Once the mixture simmers, turn the heat down and let the fruit simmer for 10 minutes until the fruits have broken down a little and the syrup has thickened. When the fruit mixture is done cooking, transfer it to an air-tight container and let cool completely to room temperature or place it in the fridge until it's completely cold. When the blueberry component is completely cool, you will need to blend it, to turn it into a smooth puree. You don't need to strain blueberries, but you might need to strain other fruit varieties. In the class notes, I've provided recipes to make several varieties of fruit purees you can use in Gelato. When the puree is super smooth, mix it into the cold Gelato base and transfer the mixture into the ice cream machine to churn. 7. Lesson 7 / Pistachio Gelato: How to Make Your Own Pistachio Paste: Now I want to show you how to make pistachio gelato. I know pistachio is one of the most popular gelato flavors and so the reason I wanted to make it in this class is to show you how to make your own pistachio paste to use in the gelato. Pistachio is unfortunately the most counterfeited gelato flavor, and the reason is that pistachio nuts are very expensive. Many gelato makers will take shortcuts and use artificial perceptual flavorings instead of the real thing. But when you've tasted authentic pistachio gelato, you can really tell the difference. I still dream of the one I had insisted in last year. To make outstanding pistachio gelato, you need pistachio paste. You can buy it ready-made, but it's not easy to find and it's extensive. Alternatively, you can buy your nuts in bulk and make some at home. Here's what you need. A cup-and-a-half of shelled and salted pistachio nuts, two-thirds of a cup of sugar, and a half cup of whole milk. First, you're going to bring a small pot of water to a boil and simmer the pistachio nuts for two minutes. This is going to blanch the nuts and make them easier to peel and grind later on. After two minutes, drain and rinse the nuts into cold water to cool them completely. Dry the nuts with paper towels. If the nuts still have their skin on, you'll have to be very patient and peel them because using the nuts with the skin on will change both the color and texture of the gelato. To peel the pistachio, simply pinch it between your fingers and the skin should come right off. This is quite a time-consuming task, but believe me, the result is well worth the effort. Note that you can also buy shelled pistachio nuts that have already been pilled. If you can find those, it's going to save you a lot of time. To make the paste, put the nuts in the bowl of a food processor, then add the sugar. Pulse until the nuts are finding realms stopping from time to time to scrape down the bowl. Add the whole milk and press this until the mixture is as smooth and creamy as the food processor will make it. Some tiny pistachio bits will remain, but that's okay. With the pistachio base into the gelato base, you can add a teaspoon of pistachio or almond extract at this stage, but it's completely optional. Transfer the pistachio mixture into the bowl of the ice cream machine, then churn for 20-25 minutes. 8. Lesson 8 / Dark Chocolate Gelato: Now let's make dark chocolate gelato. The process to make this gelato is very similar to the sicilian-style gelato base, except for the fact that we'll skip the egg yolk, because the cocoa powder acts both as a flavor and as a thickening agent, and the addition of the melted chocolate provides a delicious creamy texture. To make dark chocolate gelato, you need two and a quarter cups of whole milk, three-quarter cups of heavy cream that's 35 percent fat content cream, three-quarter cups of granulated sugar, two tablespoons of cornstarch, a half cup of dark cocoa powder sifted, and four ounces of bittersweet chocolate chopped. Note about the chocolate, that the best quality you use, the better your gelato is going to be. Finally, optionally you can add two tablespoons of coffee flavored liquor. This is going to give a little kicker flavor to the gelato and also helps it stay smoother and more spoonable once it's frozen. To make dark chocolate gelato; in a medium saucepan whisk together one and a quarter cups of the milk, the cream, the sugar, the cornstarch, and the cocoa powder. Set over medium heat and bring to a boil while whisking constantly. When it boils, lower the heat to the minimum and simmer for about 5-6 minutes until the mixture is thick and creamy. Remove from the heat, add the chopped chocolate, and stir until the chocolate is completely melted. Mix in the coffee liquor if using, and finally, whisking the remaining milk. Let the mixture cool completely, then transfer it to the ice cream machine and turn for about 20 minutes. When the gelato is frozen but still soft, transfer it to an airtight container and freeze for at least two hours before serving. 9. Lesson 9 / Making Vegan Gelato: The last recipe I wanted to show you how to make today, is how to make the dairy free and vegan gelato base. It's delicious, and extremely easy to make. The central ingredient to this gelato base is coconut cream. For the best taste, you need to use best quality, full fat coconut cream. It's not always easy to figure out the difference between canned coconut cream and milk, but what I recommend is to look for a coconut milk or cream that contains at least 60 percent coconut extract. You'll find this information on the ingredients label. If the percentage is not indicated, it's usually because the coconut extract content is lower than 60 percent. This dairy free vegan gelato base is very versatile, but as you probably know, coconut milk has a smooth but very specific taste, so, I find it marries best to both flavors such as chocolate or fruits. Today, I will be making passion fruit, and mango gelato. The ratios to make dairy free vegan gelato base are similar to the regular variation. You need three cups of cream, and two cups of fruit puree. Here, I'm going to be combining one cup of passion fruit puree, and one cup of mango puree. You'll find instructions to make these purees in the class notes. We'll also use two tablespoons of corn starch, just like we did in the Sassanian style gelato base, to give the gelato a deliciously, silky texture. To make the dairy free vegan gelato base, pour the coconut milk or cream in a medium saucepan, then whisk in the corn starch. Place the saucepan over medium heat, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Lower the heat, and let it cook, stirring constantly for 68 minutes or until you can feel the mixture has thickened. When the cream is cooked, you need to cool it completely before adding in the fruit mixture. To speed up the cooling process, you can place the saucepan in an ice bath for about ten minutes, stirring from time to time, or transfer the mixture to an air-tight container, and refrigerate for at least two hours. When the coconut cream is cool, whisk in the passion fruit and mango purees, transfer to the bowl of the ice cream machine, and churn for about 20 minutes. When it's done, transfer the gelato to a freezer friendly container and freeze for at least two hours before serving. 10. Lesson 10 / How to Serve Gelato: Creative Tips to Make Homemade Gelato Even Better: You've made beautiful creamy, delicious gelato. Should you just scoop it in a bowl and eat it? Of course you can. But you could also get creative and dress up your gelato to make it even more special. I've got a few keywords to inspire you, sprinkle, drizzle, and spoon. First, sprinkle. One of the easiest ways to turn homemade gelato into an elegant desert is to sprinkle it with fresh fruit. Serve the fresh version of the fruit you used in the gelato to underline it's taste, or choose fruits with complimentary flavor. For example, fresh strawberries are just perfect with my vegan, mango, and passion fruit gelato. Gelato is also great when you compliment it with a crunch. Sprinkling fresh nuts, candied nuts, crushed cookies, baked crumbs, or toasted unsweetened coconut over gelato, is a sure way to make it exciting. Kids especially love that. Second, think about what you can drizzle over a gelato. Vanilla bean gelato is nothing short of life-changing if you serve it drizzled with a fruity olive oil and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt. Balsamic vinegar syrup really make strawberry gelato pop, and maple syrup literally makes any gelato irresistible. Third, considers spooning preserves or any sweet condiment over a gelato. For example, I love to serve pistachio gelato with a generous dollop of homemade lemon curd. It's such a great combination of flavors. Raspberry or strawberry preserves are also amazing over dark chocolate gelato. To up the indulgence level, why not top it off with a dollop of whipped cream? Finally, I wanted to share one of my favorite summer treats, the affogato. The affogato is a coffee based Italian dessert consisting of a scoop of vanilla bean gelato, topped with a shot of espresso. It's so simple, but I guarantee you'll impress your guests with this one. If you feel festive, you can even add a shot of liquor to the mix, such as amaretto or coffee liqueur. Feel free to use dark chocolate gelato, maple gelato, or even coffee gelato to make affogato. I'm pretty sure you can't go wrong. In other words, when it comes to serving gelato, let your creativity guide you and you'll be on your way to a memorable dessert. 11. Lesson 11 / Final Thoughts: Let's Get Churning!: I'm sure you've understood by now that gelato is much more than a simple scoop of frozen custard. I just love how versatile it is and the fact that it's a leaner treat by definition, only makes it better. I hope my class will inspire you to create your own frozen treats. You'll find the links to all the recipes I've made in this class and many more in the class notes, along with bonus recipes I mentioned in the hottest serve gelato lesson. Let's get your gelato game started. Make sure to come back to this class and share photos of your creations. I can't wait to see what you'll turn up.