I Made Giada De Laurentiis’ Chocolate Hazelnut Gelato Without an Ice Cream Maker and It’s Worth the Effort

Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis‘ chocolate hazelnut gelato recipe looks absolutely delicious and even more importantly, easy to make.

While the chef’s instructions for preparing this dessert call for use of an ice cream maker, one home cook’s comment on the culinary channel’s website encouraged me to try my hand, literally, at making this classic Italian treat without the appliance. In the end, it was worth it and I would do it again.

Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis chats with a fan during a book signing event.
Giada De Laurentiis chats with a fan | Patrick Whittemore/ MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

De Laurentiis’ homemade gelato recipe is intended to be made in an ice cream machine

Looking over the chef’s recipe, it looked achievable even for a novice like me, especially since there are only six ingredients and the steps are simple.

A custard is made with two cups of whole milk, a cup of heavy cream, and a half-cup of sugar. (Gelato, unlike ice cream, has more milk than cream.)

The three ingredients are heated in a saucepan on the stove over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Four egg yolks and sugar are then whipped in a bowl with an electric mixer and following De Laurentiis’ instructions, until they’re a light yellow color.

At this point, tempering takes place by slowly stirring a small amount of the warmed milk mixture into the eggs. All of the milk with eggs is then poured, gradually, into the milk in the saucepan.

The heat on the saucepan is lowered, and it’s time to stir constantly for about 10 minutes until the mixture has thickened. After this, it’s strained. Vanilla extract and about half a cup of chocolate hazelnut spread are stirred in until the spread has dissolved. The mixture should be cooled completely before it’s poured into an ice cream maker.

It’s at this point that I parted company with De Laurentiis’ recipe.

A reviewer’s comment inspired me to make De Laurentiis’ gelato without an ice cream maker

I admit I was more than a little disappointed that it looked as though I wouldn’t be able to make the celebrity chef’s dessert.

Then, in perusing the recipe’s ratings on Food Network’s website, I saw that one sole reviewer tried it using simple elbow grease and reported great results.

“… I don’t own an ice cream maker … I decided to wing it and do it the old fashion [sic] way I just stuck the bowl in the freezer and took it out every hour and gave it a good mix. so for those of you who don’t have an ice cream maker try it out anyway takes a lot longer about 6-8 hours to freeze but this is soooooo worth the wait…,” home cook yvette r. wrote.

That was all the encouragement I needed.

You can find the complete recipe and reviews on Food Network’s site.

Tips to keep in mind if you want to make Giada De Laurentiis’ gelato without an ice cream maker

I faithfully followed the chef’s instructions and found that the following three tips contributed to my success in achieving a creamy gelato.

  1. Make sure you refrigerate and chill the container the gelato will eventually be stored in. This helps so much as your gelato sets. Allow the gelato mixture to cool before pouring it into the cold container.
  2. Now is not the time to go low-cal or low-fat. Definitely use the whole-fat milk and the heavy cream for a rich-tasting dessert.
  3. Be prepared to churn! I made the gelato mixture early in the day and strenuously stirred the mixture about every 90 minutes. It finally began to set about 4 hours into its time in the freezer. At first, I was concerned that nothing was happening and I was going to have to settle for a chocolate hazelnut milkshake. But in the end, it took on a slushy consistency and then a creamy texture. After all that churning, I left it overnight and it’s creamy and scoopable.

De Laurentiis’ gelato recipe is a keeper. It’s worth the time and a dessert that kids might enjoy helping with, too, especially with all that churning.

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