Gelato at home? Yes!! And this Blackberry and Whiskey Gelato is a good place to start. With a little heat thanks to spicy, sweet pecans, this boozy bite is a perfect ending to a great meal. The blackberry comes from my friends at Crofter's Organic using their Organic Blackberry Just Fruit Spread.
We Americans love our ice cream. There's nothing like a big scoop of double chocolate bitter chip from my favorite local shop. Living within walking distance of said shop is dan-ger-ous. And If you've been to Italy and had a chance to try it, then you know Italians feel the same way about gelato, which means "frozen" in Italian. So, I set out to make some gelato using my ice cream maker which might seem like breaking all the rules. (Rules, especially of the ice cream kind, are sometimes meant to be broken). To give my gelato an American twist, I called on Crofter's Organic Blackberry Just Fruit Spread® and a tich of whiskey. You might say this gelato is where America and Italy converge.
What's a "Fruit Spread"?
Back in 1991, Crofter's Organic introduced its first fruit spread which contains zero sugar and is sweetened from vineyard-pressed, concentrated white grape juice. Crofter's founders had a clear vision to make the freshest fruit spreads from the highest quality, organic ingredients. And boy, did they succeed! Organic Blackberry Just Fruit Spread is made from a Serbian variety of blackberry called Čačanska Bestrna. These are BIG blackberries that offer pure blackberry flavor and the right amount of tartness to complement the velvety smooth sweetness. Crofter's fruit spreads have 33% less sugar than preserves and the ingredient label is one to celebrate. You can feel good about eating them on your toast or swirling them in your yogurts on the daily. Even better, they're allergen-free, vegan, gluten-free and vegetarian. Bottom line: you can't get a fruit spread much fresher than Crofter's, which is why it works perfectly in a homemade gelato!
What's the difference between gelato and ice cream?
- milk -ice cream has a higher percentage of fat than gelato because you use a higher ratio of cream to milk while gelato is the opposite.
- speed -gelato is processed slow and low incorporating more air resulting in a denser texture while ice cream is processed faster.
- temperature - ice cream is typically served from frozen while gelato is stored and served around 10-16°F showcasing its creamy texture.
MAKING The GELATO Base: The Ingredients
For this recipe, I tried an Italian technique called fior di latte or "flower of the milk". Fior di latte means the gelato is of the purest milk flavor and calls on three primary ingredients.
- milk /cream
- starch as in cornstarch! Yup, cornstarch.
Making Gelato: The Process
First, you need an ice cream maker. There are so many great options out there. The most popular is this one largely because of its price point and reliability. If you plan to make ice cream every week (and I FULLY support that), then I would definitely check out a model like this one that has a built-in compressor. Having a built-in compressor means you don't have to freeze the bowl between uses. Or own an extra bowl. You can make ice cream all day every day at the touch of a button. Over and over and over again. Whichever way you choose, make sure your bowl is frozen hard (meaning you can't hear any liquid swishing when you shake the container).
Preparing the Gelato Base
While most ice creams and gelatos use a custard base, this does not, as it doesn't contain eggs. However, you still cook up the milk, cream, sugar, and cornstarch over low heat until it thickens up nicely. Then off the heat, you'll add the whiskey and a touch of the vanilla. I might have ruined the fior di latte a bit by incorporating the drop of vanilla, but it's still pretty darn pure! You didn't know I was such a rule breaker.
Pour the base into a wide, shallow bowl and place in the fridge until it's chilled and ready for the ice cream maker. You can certainly make the base the night before, let it chill overnight and then process the gelato in the morning. You just need ample time for the gelato to firm up before serving.
BRing on the Crofter's Fruit spread!
After the gelato has processed in the ice cream maker, pour ⅓ of it into a long container which will also be the same one that'll go into the freezer. Next, open up that jar of Crofter's fruit spread. You might want to heat it a tiny bit to spread it easily. The Morello Cherry Premium Spread would also be amazing in here and give it an "Old Fashioned" spin. Spread ½ of the jar on top of the gelato and sprinkle with the pecans. Repeat this step ending with the final layer of gelato on top. Cover the gelato tightly ( I use this awesome tub made for ice cream) and freeze for at least 6 hours.
About 15 minutes before you want to serve it, remove the gelato from the freezer and sit it on the counter. Try and resist having a taste. Ok, have one taste. Just one. Ok, two.
If you were in Italy, you'd be eating gelato with a little tiny spoon multiple times a day— in as many flavors as can be packed into the small tiny cup. So break the rules...it's your kitchen!
For a crowd: Make a few batches and scoop the gelato into small cups and freeze in individual portions for a gathering.
For a few: Make the recipe as-is and enjoy!
Blackberry and Whiskey Gelato with Spicy Sweet Pecans
- ice cream maker
- 1 ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 3/ tsp kosher salt
- 2 ⅔ cup organic whole milk, divided
- ⅔ cup organic heavy cream
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 ½ T whiskey, I used Woodford Reserve
- 1 jar Blackberry Crofter's Organic Just Fruit Spread, or your favorite Crofter's flavor
- 1 bag sweet and spicy pecans, I used Trader Joes'
- vanilla pizzelle cookies
- Freeze ice cream bowl according to manufacturer's directions but you shouldn't be able to hear any liquid splashing around inside.
- In medium saucepan over medium heat, whisk dry ingredients together for 1 minute.
- Add 1 ⅔ cup of whole milk. Continuously stirring over medium heat as the contents of the pan thicken ( should take about 5 minutes). Heat for an additional minute at a low boil, stirring the whole time.
- Meanwhile, in a measuring cup combine the remaining cup of milk, heavy cream, whiskey and vanilla.
- After the six minutes are up and the base is thickened, turn off the heat and add the remaining milk/whiskey mixture to the pan.
- Pour contents of pan into a wide, shallow glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Store in refrigerator until the base reaches 42° temp. This should take about 2 hours. You can also set the bowl over a pan or sink filled with ice if you're in a hurry. But make sure you stir the base before taking the temp of the contents as the center could still be warm. Don't rush this step!
- Pour chilled base into prepared ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer's directions. My ice cream maker takes approximately 25-30 minutes to thicken.
- Remove the paddle from container and spoon ⅓ of ice cream base into the bottom of long rectangular freezer-safe container (needs a lid).
- Layer ½ jar of the fruit spread over the ice cream base. Sprinkle with a moderate layer of pecans.
- Repeat the layering ending with the final ⅓ of ice cream base.
- Cover the container and freeze for about 6 hours till firm.
- Remove from the freezer about 10 minutes before serving. Serve immediately with extra chopped pecans on top and a side of vanilla pizzelle cookies.
- for ages 21 and over
- serve with Italian pizzelle vanilla cookies