I remember that when I was travelling in Bali I had a chance to visit all kind of nice restaurants and cafes. One of my favourite there was a simple gelato cafe which had all kind of handmade gelatos. The taste was something incredible! Usually, I don´t buy white vanilla ice cream from the store but that vanilla gelato there was so good that in the end, I didn´t want anything else but vanilla. The vanilla gelato was real! It had real vanilla bean seeds and it wasn´t white. Instead, it was a little bit yellow as it should be with real vanilla gelato. Of course, it was full of white sugar and I didn´t care. It´s just when I want some foodie experience, then I have to taste the sugar one to get some inspiration to create something similar. The vanilla gelato there was so addictive that we ate it every day. At least we found the gelato when we had only one week to be in Bali. So, we didn´t go that fat because of that. At least I hope so.
Even if it´s -5° to -14° C and snow outside in Estonia, then I don´t mind eating ice cream or gelato in a warm room under the blanket. Right now I´m taking care of my friends’ dogs while they are travelling and I have an opportunity to use the kitchen where is a very nice ice cream machine! So, I had to try that with a nice gelato! Actually, I have done ice cream and gelato without an ice cream machine also. However, if you would like to do it also without an ice cream machine, then you should have some patience and the ice cream is nice!
What is gelato and how is it different from ice cream? Gelato is known in Italy and according to the book “The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking” by Marcella Hazan the gelato has less fat, less cream, fewer eggs and no butter. The right gelato is never oversweet or overly rich. Usually, ice cream is made with a lot of cream but quite often gelato consists just milk.
So, I had that amazing ice cream machine which actually makes difference between sorbet, gelato and ice cream. Then I started to read the Italian cookbook “The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking” by Marcella Hazan and of course, I got some inspiration! There was a recipe for “Egg Custard Gelato” (page 651) which had a lot of sugar, orange and an orange liqueur in it. But there wasn´t any vanilla gelato recipe and I remembered my vanilla bean gelato in Bali and I really wanted it. So, I made some changes to the recipe and I got my vanilla bean gelato. Maybe you already know me and like always I replaced the caster sugar with honey. However, I´m gone give you some more tips with the recipe and a small recipe review what I noticed while making it (but like always I didn´t follow the instructions accurately the second time I did it).
Sugar-Free Vanilla Bean Gelato
- 6 egg yolks
- 150 g honey
- 500 ml milk
- 1 vanilla bean (vanilla pod or vanilla seeds or ½ tsp vanilla bean paste and some vanilla bean paste for serving when you feel like it)
- 3 tbsp vanilla extract
- your favourite chopped nuts (optional)
- Beat the egg yolks with honey until they come pale yellow.
- Put the milk in a saucepan and open the vanilla pod and add the seeds and vanilla pod into the milk. Bring the milk to a slow simmer (don´t boil it, I have noticed that you should be able to put your finger in the milk). Remove the vanilla pod from the milk.
- Add about 4 tbsp of hot milk into the beaten yolk and mix it into yolks.* Then add another 4 tbsp of milk and mix it into the yolks. Keep adding the milk until you´re out of it. Mix until combined.
- Pour the egg yolk mixture and milk into the saucepan and turn the heat to (medium) low and keep stirring constantly (slowly but constantly) about 5 minutes and don´t let it boil!*
- When the mixture is ready, then add vanilla extract and stir it until combined.(It´s normal when you feel it´s too sweet. When it goes to ice cream, then you don´t feel it as sweet as a mixture, weird, right?).
- Put the mixture through the strainer*** and cover it with cling wrap.**** Let it cool down to room temperature and put it in a fridge for few hour (up to overnight).
- From that point, you have two opportunities. If you have an ice cream maker, then you should do as the ice cream maker says (every ice cream maker is different). When you don´t have an ice cream machine then look at the notes.***** However, the important thing is that when you pour the gelato mixture into the machine (before make sure that it´s already cold). If you want, then add the nuts when the machines tell you to add it. When the machine has done its work keep it in an airtight container and enjoy it whenever you feel like it. But when it´s overnight or longer in a freezer, then it´s good to take it out of the freezer for 5-10 minutes before serving (or 20 minutes in a fridge). If you want you can serve it with a little bit of vanilla bean paste and nuts.
* Don´t use a mixer because you will get too much foam, just stir it in with a hand whisk or spoon until combined.
** I think that 2 minutes like the recipe says isn´t enough. At least it didn´t work for me. Maybe it depends on the temperature you´re using. You can test it with a wooden spoon. The mixture is ready when it coats the spoon. It is important that you don´t let the mixture boil because it might go to curd (big clumps come to the mixture, like ricotta). If you´re gone have curd, then there´s almost nothing you can do. At least you can´t make gelato out of it. So, if you are afraid that your mixture goes to curd then you can heat it in a water bath or just in a really low heat.
*** I don’t like to strain the milk after heating it (unless you have a skin on top of the milk). I like to strain the gelato mixture when the mixture is ready because then I get the extra smooth result.
**** Now I´m gone give you one extra tip what I did while making the gelato (the recipe didn´t mention that). Covering the custard (or gelato mixture) is one of the best tricks you can learn when you love custard. Have you noticed that when you make custard then there comes a skin on top when it cools down or stays in a fridge and then you have to remove it or there comes clumps inside? You´re just gone waste too much custard. You can prevent it with cling wrap! Put the cling wrap on top of the custard mixture. Not on top of the bowl! Press the cling wrap on top of the mixture until it touches the mixture. If you like, then you can spray the cling wrap before with a spraying oil and then you don´t even have to waste any custard (or gelato mixture).
***** Put the gelato in the freezer and stir it in every 15-30 minutes (about 3-4 times) until it´s like ice cream. Add the nuts when you´re gone stir it the last time. Put the mixture in the freezer for few hour and enjoy! Keep it in an airtight container and enjoy it whenever you feel like it. But when it´s overnight or longer in a freezer, then it´s good to take it out of the freezer 5-10 minutes before serving (or 20 minutes in a fridge).