I had Chris and Beth over for dessert in early July. I pulled a honeydew sorbet, sweet lemon ice cream, and a dark chocolate gelato out of the freezer, handed the kids spoons, and told them to dig in. So to them the credit is due for discovering that a spoon loaded with both the chocolate and the lemon resulted in a flavor that was a perfect marriage of deep complex chocolate with the smooth cool of sweet, not bitter, lemon. In short, it was . . . wondrous.
The lemon ice cream was a well-loved old favorite, ripped out of some South Dakota magazine years ago. Denser than a lemon sherbet and rather reminiscent of lemon meringue pie, on its own it pairs well with a sugar cookie or a crisp wafer. Best of all, you don’t have to own an ice cream maker to receive very quick, refreshing, and delicious results.
The gelato was a recipe passed along to me by Pascha, the generous food specialist with whom I work. She and I work on the Fran’s Chocolate account, so we’re constantly conferring on the finer points of glorious cacao. This particular recipe is Venician, from the Hotel Cipriani.
Pascha had been telling me at work about a recipe she was developing to astounding reception: a combination of raspberry sorbet, vanilla ice cream, and pistachio ice cream, highlighted with bits of chocolate ganache and formed to look like a watermelon.
I loved the idea and decided to try for a similar shape for my birthday party dessert, pairing my own flavors.
Altogether, the process took a day. I began with the gelato in the evening so that it could chill overnight. I’ve also cut the sugar down from the original recipe to ensure chocolate takes center stage, not sweetness.
Chocolate Gelato Hotel Cipriani
3/4 c. sugar
2 cups whole milk
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
3 1/2 oz chopped bittersweet chocolate (Scharffen-Berger, Valrhona, or similar quality)
4 large egg yolks, beaten lightly
In a dry 3-quart heavy saucepan cook 1/4 cup sugar, undisturbed, over moderate heat until it begins to melt, and cook, stirring with a fork, until it’s melted completely and deep golden brown…keep your eye on it to ensure it doesn’t burn.
Immediately remove from heat and dip into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Caramel will harden and crackle.
Cool pan about 5 minutes and return to heat. Add milk and cook over moderate heat, whisking, until the caramel is melted completely. Whisk in sifted cocoa until combined well and keep mixture warm.
In a metal bowl over a saucepan with barely simmering water, melt your chocolate, stirring until smooth, and remove from heat.
Beat egg yolks in another bowl with remaining 1/2 cup sugar until thick and pale.
Whisk in the caramel mixture and chocolate until combined.
Pour the resulting custard into a 3 quart heavy saucepan and cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until a candy thermometer registers 140 degrees F. Cook, stirring (do not let it boil) 4 minutes more and remove from heat. Cool completely. Cover the bowl you put in the refrigerator with saran wrap to ensure it doesn’t develop a “skin.”
I cooled the gelato overnight and froze it in the ice cream maker in the morning.
While that got frosty, I began the lemon ice cream. I made a double batch, just to be sure I’d have plenty for the truffle assembly but found that one batch was the perfect volume for the project. Here’s the basic recipe:
Sweet Lemon Ice Cream
1 large lemon
1 c. sugar
1 c. milk
1 c. well-chilled heavy cream
Remove zest with a vegetable peeler or zester, being careful not to include any white pith.
In a food processor, blend zest with sugar until very finely ground (or use superfine sugar and simply mix with the zest). Squeeze enough juice from lemon to measure 1/4 cup.
In a large bowl stir together sugar mixture and milk until sugar is dissolved, then stir in lemon juice.
In a medium bowl beat cream just until it holds stiff peaks and fold into milk mixture gently but thoroughly.
Pour into a 9 x 5 x 3 metal loaf pan.
Cover with foil and freeze until frozen, about 3 hours. Makes about 1 quart.
While the lemon ice cream was freezing, I removed the gelato from the freezer and covered two metal bowls with plastic wrap: one on its convex side, the other, on the concave.
The gelato melts easily and becomes quickly pliable, so it wasn’t difficult to mold it around the inside of the bowl. Work quickly and spread all gelato around the bowl. Place the other bowl with the saran wrap outside and press down hard to ensure an even spread. Freeze for at least an hour.
Remove the bowl-mold from the freezer, remove the inner bowl, and peel the plastic wrap off the gelato.
Pour the lemon ice cream into the bowl, trim any uneven chocolate gelato edges and promptly eat them before they drip all over your counter. Cover the bowl with foil, and freeze until ready to serve.
Remove foil, turn over your serving plate and firmly knock the bowl down…it should fall out. Peel off the remaining plastic wrap, slice, and serve.
Enjoy with great friends.
and now, a word from our awesome sponsor, Christopher Baldwin: