Oh boy, it’s true, I inherited an ice cream maker. Readers, gird your loins for an influx of recipes for ice creams, sorbets, and all manner of delicious frozen delights. I’ve got a raspberry-cashew idea floating around, along with a hankering for something rich and chocolatey. I knew as soon as I had my eager hands on that ice cream maker (kindly given by Adam’s parents, who weren’t using it), that stracciatella ice cream would be high on my list of priorities.
My trip to Venice just over two years ago is largely dominated by memories of all the gelati I ate. Which was a lot. Four scoops a day? I’m not even lying. It was truly excessive. But delicious. There was lemon, and 70% chocolate, and watermelon, and hazelnut, and strawberry. Served to you, at my favourite gelateria, by a man who my friends and I christened ‘Hot Nasty’ (he was incredibly gorgeous, but slightly surly). But my favourite gelato flavour, guaranteed to be nestled in beside whatever other flavour I was trying, was stracciatella.
You see, the thing is, I’m a vanilla girl. Not that I don’t love chocolate (I really do). But, if you held a gun to my head and said that I had to pick between vanilla and chocolate for the rest of my life, I’d pick vanilla. Hands down. (What would you pick? I’d love to know!) Stracciatella combines, for me, the best of both worlds. It’s vanilla-y and creamy soft, with flecks of dark chocolate smattered throughout. Bliss (if you eat dairy, which I was at the time). Now, I return to Australia, after a dreamy (but hectic trip) and what do I find? That all stracciatella versions I come across are missing something, something subtle, something delicious. I ponder (for a long time). Then, serendipitously, one night at our favourite pizza place, the waiter tells us their gelato flavours that night: vanilla, strawberry, and stracciatella. “Which is vanilla, with flecks of dark chocolate and roasted almonds,” she tells us, in no way understanding the breakthrough she’d just thrown me into. Needless to say, Adam ordered some and I snuck a mouthful (we’re still in the dairy-days here).
And there it was, the something that was missing: toasted almonds. But without any crunch or hint as to their existence. And that really is the secret – grinding them to form a ‘dust.’ So as soon as that ice cream maker was in my kitchen, I knew a vegan-friendly stracciatella was on its way. It’s made on a base of coconut milk, sweetened with maple syrup, and flavoured with what you might think is almost too-much vanilla. It’s silky and smooth without being rich. With the toasted almond and cacao nibs ground to a coarse dust, that ‘oh-my-what-is-in-this?’ feeling is retained. This stracciatella has a depth of flavour that makes me so very happy, recalling memories of a wonderful trip, and the city and people which made it so special. Buon Appetito!
stracciatella ice cream
makes about 750 ml
- You will make more of the almond-cacao dust than you need for this recipe, but fear not! You’ve just created something that is great as a topping on smoothies, granola, oats and probably even waffles. Store in an airtight container.
- If you’re not keen on cacao nibs, you could use dark chocolate chips instead (but I haven’t tried this). Blitz them along with the cooled almonds, but be careful they don’t melt everywhere.
- You could also use agave instead of maple syrup, but personally I enjoy the flavour which maple adds..
- 2 c (500 ml) full-fat coconut milk
- 1 c (250 ml) water
- 1/3 c (80 ml) maple syrup
- 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
- 2 tbsp cacao nibs
- 2 tbsp flaked almonds, toasted
In a saucepan, over medium heat, combine coconut milk, water, maple syrup, vanilla seeds, extract and xanthan gum. Whisk to combine. Continue to heat, whisking regularly (so the bottom doesn’t burn) for 10 minutes, or until it comes to the boil. Once it reaches boiling, immediately remove from the heat and allow to cool completely before proceeding.
While the mixture is cooling, combine the toasted almonds and cacao nibs in a coffee grinder or food processor, and blitz them for ten seconds or so, so form a coarse ‘dust.’ Once the liquid has cooled, add to your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Once everything is moving about, add 2 tbsp of the almond-cacao dust. When finished, store in an airtight container in the freezer. Allow to thaw for 10-15 minutes before serving.