Last week I was given the amazing opportunity to try some free gelato down at OTHERS! Gelato and Coffee in Portland, ME. Those who know me well know that I hope to one day open an ice cream/tea shop...so to see a business who does close to what my dream is (and does it sucessfully) was amazing. The owner took the time to speak with me about his gelato, why he preferred it over the standard ice cream, and gave me some information about emulsifiers. After trying his Nutella Gelato, I practically died inside...the texture was unbelievable, and the flavor was magnificent. I immediately jumped at the opportunity to vote for them as Portland Phoenix's Best Ice Cream Parlor 2010.
With that, I have broken out the ice cream maker and am on my way to churning up some more ice-cream-goodness. I use the terms "Ice Cream" and "Gelato" loosely, because I think that my product is sort of a different beast altogether. At the moment I primarily use soy milk as my base and egg yolks as an emulsifier...this makes the fat content closer to that of gelato, but my lack of actual dairy product sort of throws it into a completely different realm. Ideally, I would like to work with some different emulsifiers and create a variety of all-natural vegan ice creams...but it might be awhile before I try those, and even longer before I have some perfected recipes.
I started thinking about springtime...snow still flurries every once in awhile here, but that hasn't been stopping me from breaking out the winter coat and going for a nice long hike. One great thing about Portland is the numerous amounts of trails, I honestly don't think I could count them all! Looking around my pantry I decided to pay homage to the hiker/backpacker/outdoorsman in all of us (sure, it might be hiding in some of us...but it's there!) and make a Chocolate Trail-Mix "Gelato." The texture isn't as creamy and thick as most kinds of gelato, but it tastes fabulous. The chocolate flavor isn't heavy and overpowering...it tastes more like chocolate milk. Plus, the combination of sweet and salty when you get a piece of dried fruit or nuts is just great. It's like a Rocky Road spin-off with dried fruit and nuts. It is important to rehydrate the fruit in the soy milk before adding it in at the end, otherwise you'll end up with what feel like pebbles all through your ice cream!
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup dried cranberries
2/3 cup sugar
7 egg yolks
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup shredded coconut (reserve 2 tablespoons for garnish)
Soak raisins and dried cranberries in soy milk. Let set while making the custard. In a double boiler, whisk together sugar, egg yolks, and cocoa powder. Be sure to whisk constantly to ensure that the eggs don't scramble. Heat the mixture to 140* and remove from heat. Add soy milk to mixture and strain. Rinse the rehydrated fruit, and set aside. Churn the chocolate soy milk base until it starts to thicken. Add fruit, nuts, and coconut during the last 5min. Transfer to a freezer proof container and chill until firm. When serving, sprinkle remaining coconut over the top.