A few weeks ago, Jenn (a most talented cook!) asked me if I had a recipe for honey gelato. I didn’t… Why didn’t I have a honey gelato recipe yet, I wondered? It’s something I had thought about many times, but never got around to making.
Ice: the Achilles’ heel of any honey gelato recipe!
So I quickly went to work, and soon realized that honey does very funny things to the gelato base. It makes it a little icy and less creamy – and that’s because honey contains water.
As you may have noticed, my gelato recipes are mostly milk-based and thickened with a bit of cornstarch. Of course, I love ice cream! But when I see how much egg yolk and heavy cream goes into a pint, I cringe. It’s been my goal to create gelatos that are smooth and creamy, yet a bit healthier than the norm. However, this means the base has to be carefully calibrated… and even moreso when using honey as a sweetener. So to compensate for the water content in the honey, I do two things: First, I stir the honey into the base once it’s totally chilled, so the honey is never warmed. Second, I add crème fraîche instead of heavy cream – which, since crème fraîche has a creamier texture, helps to counteract the iciness.
Try different types of honey for subtle changes in flavor
All the testing was worth it in the end, because the flavor of this honey gelato is superb! (Plus it’ll vary with the kind of honey you use.) You can serve it on its own, with summer stone fruits, with an elegant pear tart or with this delightful apricot clafoutis.
Thank you, Jenn! Honey gelato has now become a favorite in this household.
makes 2 pints
active time: 30 min
- Step 1: Place the cornstarch in a small bowl, add a bit of milk (about 3 tablespoons) and whisk until the cornstarch has completely dissolved. Place the balance of the milk and the vanilla bean in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil. Quickly whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 to 6 minutes, whisking continuously, until the mixture thickens slightly. Remove pan from heat, scrape off the seeds from the vanilla bean and whisk into the custard. Discard the vanilla bean. Transfer the milk mixture to a bowl to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, cover and refrigerate until well chilled – about 2 hours in the refrigerator or 45 minutes in the freezer.
- Step 2: Once chilled, whisk in the honey and crème fraîche and transfer the mixture to an ice cream or gelato maker. Freeze according to the instructions of your machine. Transfer the gelato to a container and freeze for 2 to 3 hours before serving. (The gelato should have firmed up, but should still be a bit soft.)
- Cook’s note: The gelato will keep in the freezer for up to 2 weeks, but is best eaten the day it’s made. Remove from freezer and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes until slightly softened before serving.
- How about infusing honey with lavender, herbs or spices to flavor your gelato? Infused honeys are so easy to make (here’s the recipe) and incredibly delicious. Enjoy!