Friends (Strawberry Gelato)

If you have friends like the ones I have, then you are one lucky person.

I’m talking about friends who will pick you up when you’re stuck at home in the rain with only a bike to get you around. I’m also talking about friends with whom you can have a philosophical conversation on the psychology of social relations while massacring wave after wave of alien invaders on the television screen in front of you. I’m talking about friends who are artists, rhetors, future politicians, athletes, or just downright cool.

Friend who are foodies, friends who would rather have a Big Mac than a peppercorn-encrusted New York strip steak with a red wine reduction; friends who enjoy cooking with you and friends who just like to eat the food you make.

Moreover, I’ve got friends who I not only appreciate but who appreciate me, so much so that on a rare occasion they will buy you an ice cream maker–because they remember talking with you about it a few months back–to say “thanks.”

For that, I’m one lucky guy.

Either that, or they all like me for the free food they get when they’re with me. I try not to think about that one, though.

This gelato is velvety, creamy, and–more so if I had not put in too much sugar by accident (that’s what rushing through a recipe does!)–refreshingly tart because of the farmer’s market fresh strawberries. Yes, that’s very important: farmer’s market or not, make sure your berries are fresh!

Strawberry Gelato

Adapted from The Ciao Bella Book of Gelato & Sorbetto. Makes 2 quarts. 

Ingredients:

2 cups whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

4 large egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar + 1/4 cup sugar, separated

1 pound whole strawberries (about 1 quart), hulled and thinly sliced

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

To Prepare:

  1. Combine the milk and cream in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir occasionally (don’t let a skin form on the cream mixture!) and heat until tiny bubbles form around the edge at about 170˚F.
  2. Meanwhile, in a separate heatproof bowl, whisk egg yolks until smooth. Gradually whisk in 1/2 cup sugar until the mixture becomes and grainy paste, pale-yellow in color.
  3. Very gradually, pour in the cream mixture into the egg yolks while whisking continuously to temper the egg yolks (slowly! we don’t want scrambled egg gelato, people). 
  4. Afterwards, pour this mixture back into the saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently until the custard can coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 185˚F. Don’t boil it!
  5. Pour the mixture through a mesh strainer into a separate, clean bowl and let cool to room temp. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  6. (Note: These next two steps can be done a day ahead of the above steps if you want more time.) Place the strawberries in a saucepan, cover evenly with sugar and lemon juice, and toss. Let sit for 15 minutes or so to macerate.
  7. After macerating, cook the strawberries over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes or until the syrup starts to thicken. Remove and let cool to room temperature, afterwards covering it and placing it in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
  8. Remove the strawberries from the fridge and, reserving about a quarter of the strawberries, place in a food processor or blender with half the custard base. Process/blend until smooth, then whisk into the remaining base.
  9. Pour the final mixture into an ice cream maker and follow your manufacturer’s instructions. 
  10. About 5 minutes before the ice cream cycle is completed, add the remaining strawberries (Note: this step is completely optional if you want a completely smooth ice cream with no berry chunks. If you don’t, just go to step 8 and pour all the strawberries into the blender).
  11. Put the final product into an airtight container and chill for at least two hours, stirring once or twice. 
  12. Enjoy!


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