Summer is a time of creativity in our kitchen inspired by so many patissiers in Venice and their frozen summer treats :-). My grandmother’s family have been making ice cream ever since I can remember. There’s a difference you will notice because we make ice cream in the ancient manner, never using a gelatiera (ice-cream maker). It will taste a little bit like scropin or sorbetto, depending on the ingredients we choose. With a little bit of practicing, one can make delicious gelato from sweet cream, or try the lighter granita-style gelato which doesn’t require cream.
The consistency of gelato will also depend on the ingredients. We use panna (thick sweet cream) and latte intero (whole milk) to make a creamy version. There is one issue, though. What I call panna may not be what you consider (sweet) cream. Never use the light versions of cream if you want to make Venetian-style gelato. You’ll need a very thick cream, clotted cream would be fine, but you’ll have to experiment and it should work out in the end.
The basis for ALL gelati is the following recipe for gelato fior di latte (milky ice cream). Here are our favorite family recipes: chocolate mint ice cream, rose petal ice cream and Nutella ice cream :-) And, we’ve also got a special one for you – the version made with lavender syrup, honey and uva fragola (Venetian strawberry grapes).
Basic Recipe – Gelato fior di latte: Mix 2 cups latte intero (whole milk), 170 ml panna (thick sweet cream), 2 cups granulated sugar. In a pan, heat the mixture until the sugar melts, forming a smooth mass. Leave it to cool to room temperature, then put the pan covered with a lid into the freezer for two hours.
If you stir your gelato every hour or so using a fork, you’ll be making a sort of granita melting rather quickly on your plate. If you don’t stir, you’ll find its consistency is that of gelato, but a bit more solid than gelato made with an ice cream maker. Wait 1-2 minutes in case the ice cream has become very solid.
To make chocolate mint gelato, add 3 tablespoons cocoa powder, a cup of dark fine chocolate pieces, 2 teaspoons menta (Italian mint liquor). Instead of alcohol, you could also use a few drops essential mint oil or 2 teaspoons mint syrup.
For gelato ai petali di rosa – rose petal ice cream, add 3 teaspoons rose syrup and 1/2 freshly picked rose petals, 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
To make gelato alla Nutella – Nutella ice cream, add six tablespoons Nutella and 2 tablespoons (cane) sugar to the basic gelato mixture, heat it and put it into the freezer.
Finally, to make grandmother’s favorite – gelato alla lavanda, miele e uva fragola – Lavender-Honey-Strawberry Grape Gelato, add 2 cups crushed grapes (use a black variant) to the basic gelato recipe, 1 tablespoon lavender syrup (or five drops essential lavender oil from the pharmacist only !!!). Stir in 3 tablespoons honey before you leave to cool the mixture in the freezer.