Chocolate Gelato

Chocolate Gelato

Ice cream season is upon us! Two years ago, I bought an ice cream maker – just the basic Cuisinart one. I previously had the ice cream bowl kitchen aid attachment, but, for whatever reason, I got rid of it. It worked great, though. My only gripe with the Cuisinart is that the dasher speed is a bit slow – so you really don’t get too much overrun in your ice cream creations. But! This is perfect for gelato. Enter: chocolate gelato!

I love gelato. I also really like ice cream. Frozen custard, which is what many people think is ice cream, is delicious too – but I find the addition of eggs can sometimes muddy flavors of ice creams – especially chocolate and vanilla. When there is more “stuff” going on, you can get away with more – but not when you want pure, true flavors to shine through. This chocolate gelato is simple: milk, cocoa powder, sugar, corn starch, sea salt and vanilla (vanilla is optional).

Chocolate Gelato

You cook the mixture (making a pudding, really), chill it, then freeze it in your ice cream maker. The result is an intense, slightly dense, satisfying chocolate gelato. Think a grown-up fudgesicle.

The beauty about this chocolate gelato is that it is a great canvas for playing around: try varying fat contents in milk, try different cocoa powders, adjust salt level, add more or less or no vanilla, add a few TB of other booze (coffee liquor!), drizzle in chocolate, make marshmallow fluff and layer that it….you get the idea.

I have found that the more alkalized the cocoa I use, the runnier the base (and the more “alkalize oreo” flavor). Natural cocoas work really well here, too. The higher the fat content milk you use, the more creamy the gelato is. I love to use whole milk, but 2% and half-and-half are wonderful options. Have fun!

Chocolate Gelato

I love to serve small portions of this just plain – it is so intense and satisfying! Or, a contrast of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream is wonderful, too. Macerated strawberries are excellent as well. Enjoy!

Chocolate Gelato

Chocolate Gelato

Simply chocolate gelato: intense, smooth and satisfying. Recipe adapted from Alice Medrich.
Prep Time 1 day 30 minutes
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6 1/2 cup portions


  • 3 cups milk 2%, whole or 1/2 % 1/2
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cups cocoa powder any variety
  • 1 1/2 TB cornstarch
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp sea salt to taste
  • vanilla extract or bean, liquor to taste, optional; 1-2 TB coffee liquor or bourbon, optional
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup dark chocolate melted, optional, for drizzling


  • Freeze ice cream canister, if needed (do this at least 1 day ahead, perhaps at the same time you are making the gelato base!). The base is best when allowed to cool and age for a day or two.
  • In a medium-large sauce pan, preferrably with a heavy bottom, add 2 cups of milk. Heat on medium.
  • Meanwhile, whisk the sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt in a medium bowl (large enough to fit 4 cups – you will pour the hot base into this bowl at the end of cooking). Add the remaining 1 cup of milk, and whisk to combine until no lumps are seen.
  • Once milk in pan has come to a simmer, add the cocoa-milk mixture, and whisk to combine. If you are using a vanilla bean, you can add the seeds and pod now. Switch to a rubber spatula, and turn heat to medium-high.
  • Cook, stirring constantly, being sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the pan. Once mixture is bubbling nicely, cook for 2-3 minutes. This ensures the cornstarch is cooked and activated.
  • After 2-3 minutes, taste the mixture – if it is smooth with no starchy or drying aftertaste, immediately pour the contents into the reserved bowl. Smooth a piece of plastic wrap over the top so it touches the pudding (this prevents a skin from forming).
  • Cool the base for at least 8 hours, up to 2 days. If using vanilla extract or other alcohol, add it right before churning. Be sure to remove any vanilla pods, if used, prior to churning.
  • Once ice cream is churned in the ice cream maker, you can transfer into a desired container. The gelato will be thick – and not as aerated as a traditional ice cream. As you transfer into the storage container, you can drizzle on 1/4 to 1/3 cup of melted chocolate as you layer into the storage container. Freeze to harden for a few hours.
  • To serve, allow the gelato to warm for about 5 minutes on the counter. Scoop and enjoy!


Gelato will keep for a few weeks in the freezer, but depending on how your freezer cycles, it may develop larger ice crystals more quickly. I’d recommend enjoying within 7-10 days of churning for the best texture.
Keyword Chocolate, Gelato, Ice cream, Summer

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