Candida Martinelli's Italophile Site

Main Page This family-friendly site celebrates Italian culture for the enjoyment of children and adults. Site-Overview



Gelato - Italian Ice Cream






Liquor / Wine




















Anyone who has visited Italy knows of the hypnotic appeal of the colorful gelato shop.  Spotless trays of beautifully displayed gelato, Italian ice cream, tempt the passer-by.  It's served up in cups of varying sizes, and eaten with plastic spoons that look fit for dolls.

While Italians did not invent ice cream, they certainly improved on the Arab version that arrived in Sicily in the years 800-900 (9th and 10th centuries A.D.), adding cream, eggs, sugar and an endless imagination when it comes to flavors.

Experts say that gelato differs from ice cream in that gelato has less fat, less air, and is kept at a slightly warmer temperature than ice cream.  This makes gelato healthier, denser, and more flavorful.

Caterina de' Medici is famous for bringing ice cream with her to France, commissioning great ice cellars so she could have ice cream all year round.  Today, we can all have gelato year round, but the appeal of making your own, and using your own imagination to invent flavors, makes gelato an artistic outlet.

Ice cream makers come in all shapes and sizes.  Some sit in the freezer while they work, others sit on the kitchen counter.  Some require no electricity at all, cooling with ice and rock salt, and stirred by shaking the container. 

However you make your gelato, here are a few tips that can help make it as close to the Italian gelato shop's offerings as possible.


Gelato with Cream (Custard) Base

Use the basic Italian cream (custard) recipe:  La crema (Cream):  1/4 liter whole milk, 1/4 liter cream, 150 grams sugar, 5 egg yolks, vanilla to taste.

Or you can use my basic recipe

Whisk all the ingredients together while they are still cold, then whisk continually over a medium flame (reduced to a low flame for the last few minutes of cooking) until the cream thickens (roughly 5 minutes in total).  

  • 1 cup milk

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (you can add more to taste after it is cooked, or use almond flavoring for example)

  • 2 egg yolks

  • 1/4 cup sugar (if you replace the sugar with a diet sweetener, double the flour to compensate for the lost thickening agent)

  • 2 tablespoons flour

Mix together, carefully folding them together, 2 cups of the chilled custard with two cups of sweetened whipped cream.  Use this mixture as the base in your ice cream maker, adding in flavorings.

Some flavoring ideas to add, to taste:

  • vanilla extract

  • caramel

  • cognac, whickey, gin, grand-marnier, rum, ect.

  • chocolate

  • espresso coffee

  • raisons and Malaga wine

  • ground almonds and Amaretto

  • zabaione

  • Nutella, the chocolate-hazelnut paste

  • rose-water

  • Amarene - bitter cherries in syrup

The best part about making your own gelato, is you can tailor it to your special dietary needs by altering the ingredients to include such things as diet sweeteners or non-fat products.


Fruit Gelato

Gelato made with fruit flavoring is made with a base of fruit syrup.

Here's a simple syrup recipe:  10 tablespoons of sugar and 5 tablespoons of water and 1 tablespoon of vinegar.  Bring the sugar and water to a boil, then add the vinegar.  Boil everything for 5 minutes longer.

Add about a pound of cleaned and sliced fruit to the mixture (strawberries, banana, cherries, pineapple, berries, etc.), and let it cook on a low flame for about 5 minutes.

Cool, then chill the mixture. 

Pour it through a sieve.

Stir in whipped cream.

Put it in your ice cream maker.

For Lemon and Orange Gelato, add the squeezed juice to the syrup, and dice up the fruit pulp.  Cook this a bit longer than the other fruit, 10 minutes.  Peaches and apricots should be cooked longer too.