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Mambo Gelato, also known as: The Many Uses of Salt Monday, January 7, 2008

Posted by Grace in from the kitchen, la famiglia.
Tags: , ,

Brr! Is it ever chilly outside! What we were doing making unconventional gelato, outside, in the cold, is beyond me. Though it is a wonderful thing to eat, getting yourself thoroughly chilled and eating frozen food isn’t something I generally do in close succession to each other. Lemon saw a cooking show (I’m apparently not the only one with that addiction) where they made ice cream using this method. Due to a lack of cream, we made a gelato; but only after a lecture on aeration levels from our beloved Resident Italian, who felt the need to correct the misnomer.

First: Ingredients

None of these were explicitly measured (its the most fun unmeasured, I think), but we used: a good handful of hazelnuts (maybe 1/2 cup), around a half cup sugar, 2 heaping teaspoons of cornstarch, a pinch of salt, a little more than two cups of milk, and a couple of ounces of chopped bittersweet chocolate.

Second: Heat

Hazelnuts, sugar, starch, and salt go into the food processor, process until nuts are fine. Transfer mixture into a saucepan and whisk in milk gradually. Continue to whisk over medium heat until the mixture thickens, it took us about 15 minutes, but the milk was really cold, so it could be faster if one prepared ahead. Remove from heat and mix in chopped chocolate, continue stirring until melted.

The salt does not make for a salty gelato, because it is in small concentration it aids in the rounding out of flavors, much like the pinch of salt that goes into cookie dough or cake batter.

Third: The Unconventional Factor

You need two clean empty cans, one of which has to be able to fit into the other. We used large and small coffee cans, as they are just about the right size to do all the gelato in one batch. The not-yet-but-soon-to-be gelato mixture goes into the small can with a marble (clean please!), which acts as a mixing ball. Place on the lid and secure/seal with duct tape. The small can goes into the large can, which you fill the rest of with ice and then some salt. A good seal on the small can is important, because salty gelato is not something we were looking for. Seal the larger can with duct tape. The can apparatus gets wrapped up in some kind of padded insulator, it keeps the cold from escaping the system and lets you play with it without worrying about breaking the cans too much; we used a silver safety blanket… and some more duct tape. What can I say, we grew up watching the Red Green show, that stuff fixes everything!

In this step of our process the salt serves to disrupt equilibrium with the ice, so that it is melting more than it is freezing, aiding in the freezing of the gelato.

Fourth: Games

All thats needed at this point is motion of the gelato making package to mix the gelato while it solidifies. We hung ours from a tree branch and played something vaguely like tether ball, until the rope broke, at which point we just played soccer on the road. Much to our advantage, the road was salted so that it wasn’t ice covered and slippery. Kicking things around and running are so much simpler when not on ice. 🙂

After about 20 minutes (possibly a little fast for comparison times if this is ever to be repeated, it is below freezing out after all) we took it all apart, rinsed the small can off to keep salt water from getting in, and enjoyed our tasty treat.

Whoever thought this method up, on whatever cooking show Lemon was watching, they had a good idea. I think that this could be a lot of fun at a barbecue, potluck, or other outdoor shindig; you get to kick the ‘ball’ around, and later enjoy their dessert. We’ll have to try some other flavor combinations when the weather gets warmer.

Song of the Day: Mambo Gelato – Ray Gelato



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