I was recently sent 4 flavours of Make at Home Gelato Kits from the lovely people from Beyond the Square Communications and Queen Fine Foods. But rather than have the usual – straight vanilla, strawberry, chocolate and lemon – I wanted to do something special, something interesting.
To get inspiration for what I wanted to do with the strawberry gelato, I got a punnet of ruby red strawberries – I’m so happy that they’re in season now – and thought about what I’d usually eat with them. Then it clicked. Balsamic Glaze. I absolutely adore strawberries macerated in balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of sugar, and a glaze would swirl gorgeously into the strawberry gelato.
The balsamic glaze is dead simple to make. Simply heat up a cup or so of balsamic vinegar – this is going to reduce by about half, so just double the quantity of however much glaze you’d like to make – until it’s reduced almost to half, then add about a third of a cup of densely packed brown sugar. Continue heating – making sure that the mixture does not burn – until you reach a thick, syrupy consistency.
And there you go, a dead simple balsamic glaze to add to your strawberry gelato.
Making the gelato was also really easy:
I loved the little pictures that came on the back of the box, and it simply involved whisking in your liquid of choice – in this case it could be milk for a gelato or water for a sorbet – and churning it in your ice cream machine of choice.
It’s a really good idea to make space in your freezer to chill the mixture slightly before churning, just because the little churners with the insulated bowls aren’t always the best at bringing your ice cream all the way. After about 35 min of churning (the machine manufacturers recommend 40 min max) I ended up with this:
It was slightly thicker than when I first started, but not by much. It provided me just enough thickness to swirl the glaze through, but if I wanted to put anything thicker through, it simply would not have held. As mentioned in the previous post, DO NOT place the ice cream mixture in the churning bowl and leave it to chill in the freezer. The mixture will start freezing solid and you’ll have a real issue getting the paddle of the churner to turn properly. Place the mixture in a bowl and into the freezer for about 20 minutes. Then churn it according to the machine’s instructions.
When you’re done, simply pour it into your freezing container of choice – mine was a one litre capacity plastic container – and swirl the glaze through.
Then simply cover the ice cream in cling wrap, ensuring that the cling wrap touches all the surface of the ice cream and that there aren’t any air bubbles, put on the lid, and then into the freezer to freeze the rest of the way. The reason that the cling is so important is that the freezer actually dehydrates your food by having the water in your food freeze into ice crystals on the surface, ruining the texture, and causing you to have ‘crunchy’ ice cream.
It also makes your ice cream look like a funky marble watercolour. =)
After leaving it sets in the freezer, simply serve on pancakes with some fresh strawberries, or dig into it with your favourite ice cream topping.
Only the Vanilla was left, and in my search for interesting sweet/savoury combos I decided to make a leap and try Vanilla and Vegemite. It’s dead simple – after churning the vanilla ice cream, simply swirl in the vegemite. I used vegemite from a squeeze bottle just to make things simpler.
I think it’s one of my favourites – the salty, umami flavour of the vegemite complemented the creamy sweetness of the vanilla bean gelato perfectly. Very addictive.
This is absolutely a great easy way to make your own flavour combinations without having to worry about making the ice cream custard etc. Yes, it’s not as flexible as infusing the custard with really cool flavours (I’d love to make a savoury ice cream next with garlic infused cream) but it’s also something easy and creative that you can make on a week night to treat yourself on the weekend.
I’m still treating myself to that rich chocolate gelato. I love salted butterscotch. That is all. Yum.