(Does gelato like this really even need an introduction?)
Perhaps you've heard that Argentinians speak Spanish with an Italian accent-that's true, and they're also loud and passionate (even when discussing something unimportant), and gesture a lot. But Argentineans also eat with an Italian accent!
In Argentina, helado (ice cream) is more like Italy's gelato-softer and creamier than American ice cream, and with typical flavors like chocolate hazelnut, dulce de leche, and sambayon (which is the Spanish spelling of zabaione) custard-flavored gelato typically served with fruit. Some of the more uncommon flavors include malbec (made from the wine), watermelon, or coconut. Truly, it's almost divine.
I had the luck of finding what I personally believe might just be the best helado in Argentina on our last trip. (Of course, I haven't had the chance to do a formal evaluation, touring all the heladerias in Argentina...yet.)
I felt like Elizabeth Gilbert in her book Eat, Pray, Love in which she samples the gelato of one particular shop several times in one day just to make sure it's as good as she thinks it is. I'm here to say: it is-I know because I did the same thing!
Like the Italians in Gilbert's book, Argentinians are "...masters at the beauty of doing nothing" (And that's a compliment, by the way. As she goes on to say, Americans are list-makers, multitaskers, work too hard and burn ourselves out-we have a hard time slowing down, relaxing (and giving ourselves permission to relax!) In Argentina, relaxing is part of life. They work hard, but also enjoy taking their kids out for ice cream on a Friday night, sitting there and chatting for a couple of hours with friends and letting the kids entertain themselves. You know, relaxing.
Oh, and that heladeria...it really is the best-Rafael Rodriguez and his family have been making helado in Argentina for three generations. I was lucky enough to see how the ice cream is made (in small batches daily) and how they have elevated making helado to a true art form.
I promise to write all about that on a day very soon, but today, you get this delicious recipe inspired by my visit to his shop-the ideal way to celebrate summer being around the corner. I promise it won't disappoint-and it's very quick and easy.
Receta para Helado de Dulce de Leche
Recipe for Dulce de Leche Gelato
For this recipe, there's the gelato base, and then there's dulce de leche, which is just folded into the finished gelato or drizzled over the top (like in the picture).
3 cups milk
1 and 1/2 cup heavy cream
4 eggs, yolks only
1/2 cup vanilla sugar* if available
1/2 cup sugar
In a saucepan, mix the milk and cream and heat over medium heat until bubbles form around the edges. Remove from heat. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugars together until the sugars are incorporated and the mixture is frothy. Slowly add the warm milk to the sugar mixture, whisking continuously.
Return the mixture to the saucepan and heat over medium heat and stirring with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of the spoon. If the egg starts to get lumpy-the heat is too hot! Remove from heat immediately.
Strain the mixture through a fine strainer or sieve into a bowl. Cover and put in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer to a sealed container and freeze until firm-if it gets too hard, bring it down to the fridge to soften.
To add the dulce de leche, put one layer (several scoops) of the gelato base and a layer of dulce de leche on top. Put another layer of of the gelato base and mix together by making a figure 8 pattern with a spatula. Alternatively, drizzle the dulce de leche over the top. For my previous post on dulce de leche, click here.
*Vanilla sugar is sugar (about 4 cups) that has had a whole vanilla bean immersed in it for two to three weeks. (in a sealed container) The sugar then takes on a vanilla flavor, and can be used for many desserts.