weelllllll helllllo! it. has. been. a. MINUTE. by which i might mean year. i didn’t mean to ghost on you, things have just been a bit busy. just about a year ago, i got a full-time job, which has been great, but it’s taken me a little bit to figure out how to reconfigure my life so that i can fit this cooking / photographing / chatting with you piece back in.
over the past year, friends and family have asked if i’m planning to continue with tasty seasons, and i would always say, “i haven’t decided to stop, i just also haven’t been posting.” and if i’m being honest, it took a little while for me to realize how much i missed it. the upside is that while i haven’t been trying as many new recipes over the past year, the ones that i’ve loved enough to make over and over again are really good and i’m excited to share them with you!
so let’s start with some hazelnut ice cream with strawberry and chocolate swirls, shall we? ironically, this is a recipe that i originally started working on during the summer of 2017, but couldn’t get right in time for strawberry season. then i circled back to it and perfected it last summer, riiiight before i stopped posting. but i promise it’s worth the wait!
in fact, this is one of the rare dessert recipes that is good enough to warrant multiple (multiple…) rounds of testing. last summer i dove back in, with a bit more research under my belt and a few more ideas to try. basically, the problem was that both the hazelnut ice cream and the strawberries were turning into solid blocks of ice. no bueno.
eventually, by combining allll of the ice cream scoopability tricks (alcohol, sugar, AND gelatin), we got there. creamy ice cream that is scoopable in an amount of time that is reasonable to wait for something that tastes so good (some recipes “solve” this problem by instructing you to just leave the ice cream on the counter for 30 minutes before you want to scoop and eat it. i’m sorry, are we making 48-hour chocolate chip cookies or a quick bowl of ice cream? seriously, what in the heck?!)
so now, with the first pints of strawberries on the tables at the farmers’ market just this morning, i give you hazelnut ice cream with strawberry and chocolate swirls! it’s even better than it sounds. hazelnuts and strawberries are a perfect combination. hazelnuts and chocolate are a perfect combination. strawberries and chocolate are a perfect combination. do you see where we’re headed here? this ice cream is aces.
and should you be in need of such a thing, it’s perfect for using up the last of the strawberries from that overzealous trip to the strawberry patch because the strawberries get blended with sugar and freeze dried strawberries (don’t worry, trader joe’s sells them) to make a smooth puree that hides all manner of just-beginning-to-get-mushy-spots strawberry blemishes.
so whatever state your strawberries are in, they would love to end up in hazelnut ice cream with strawberry and chocolate swirls. i highly recommend that you do not wait until next year to try this (dairy free) ice cream recipe. it’s just too good.
hazelnut ice cream with strawberry and chocolate is a decadent yet dairy free summer treat! try this homemade ice cream with a smooth, creamy hazelnut base.
- 370 g. (13 oz. / 2 ½ rounded cups) hazelnuts, see notes
- 1 ½ cups water
- 1 ½ teaspoons unflavored gelatin, see notes
- 1 ¼ cups pure maple syrup, see notes
- ¼ cup frangelico (hazelnut liqueur) (a small (50 ml) bottle is close enough), see notes
- 340 g. (12 oz.) fresh strawberries, stems removed
- 226 g. (8 oz. / 1 cup + 2 tablespoons) granulated sugar
- 30 g. freeze dried strawberries, see notes
- 85 g. (3 oz.) dark chocolate (60 – 90% cocoa) in bar format (not chips), roughly chopped
- 1.5 teaspoons neutral flavored oil
- if you are using a canister-style ice cream maker, be sure to let the empty canister chill in the coldest part of the freezer (usually the lower back corner) for at least 24 and ideally 48 hours before you put it to use making delicious treats.
- preheat the oven to 350° F. on a rimmed baking sheet, spread the hazelnuts out in a single layer. roast for 10 minutes, then give the sheet a good shake to turn the hazelnuts over and continue roasting for 2 – 5 more minutes, until they are the color of milky coffee under their skins.
- let the hazelnuts cool until they are cool enough to handle. transfer them to a clean kitchen towel and use the towel to rub the skins off the hazelnuts (i just go for getting all of the loose/big pieces off and don’t get too perfectionist about it.)
- put the hazelnuts in a bowl large enough to contain them plus about an inch of water over them. leave to soak at room temperature at least 8 hours (up to 2 days is fine).
- measure out 1 1/2 cups of fresh water. take 2 tablespoons of water from the measured amount and put it in a small bowl. sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the surface of the water and set aside for 10 minutes.
- strain the hazelnuts and discard the soaking water. in a high speed blender, combine the hazelnuts and the remaining water. blend on low for 30 seconds, then on high for 1 – 2 minutes, until the mixture is completely smooth.
- transfer the gelatin mixture to the blender (it’s ok if it’s lumpy or seems dried out), and add the maple syrup and frangelico. blend on high for 30 seconds until the mixture is well combined. by now, the mixture is likely warm from all of the blending, so transfer it to a shallow plastic container with a lid and refrigerate until cool (40° F) (plan on 2 hours for this).
- rinse the blender jar then combine the strawberry swirl ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth (about 1 minute). transfer to a shallow plastic storage container with a lid and refrigerate until cold. can be made several days in advance.
- if possible, set your ice cream maker up in a cool(er) room. pour the mixture into your frozen ice cream maker canister and process according to the manufacturer’s directions. i ran it through my machine for 30 minutes. if you have a thermometer, you want the base to reach 21° F (or colder).
- once the ice cream base goes into the ice cream maker, combine the chocolate and oil either in the top of a double boiler or a microwave safe bowl. stirring frequently, melt the chocolate using low heat/power. remove from heat and set aside. when the ice cream is done in the maker, you want the chocolate to be liquid but not very hot so that you can drizzle it into the base before it goes in the freezer to finish freezing.
- once the ice cream base is ready, transfer 1/3 of it to a shallow, plastic storage container with a lid (here’s why). drizzle 1/3 of the chocolate over the ice cream then drizzle 1/3 of the strawberry puree on top. repeat in 2 more layers with remaining ingredients. tightly seal the ice cream and get it into the coldest (back) part of your freezer asap. freeze until desired consistency is reached (plan on at least 4 hours). enjooooooy! (depending on how cold your freezer gets, you may want to plan on letting the ice cream sit on the counter for a few minutes before serving, even with the gelatin and frangelico.)
hazelnuts: i buy the pretoasted and preskinned hazelnuts from trader joe’s… then i toast them again and rub the skins off again! but at least i have a head start! it’s by no means essential but it does cut down some of the work if you can find preskinned hazelnuts.
gelatin: the gelatin helps the ice cream not freeze quite so solid. if you need this ice cream to be vegetarian/vegan, you can omit it (and let the ice cream thaw a few more minutes before scooping) but i recommend including it, if possible. you can’t taste it at all and it does improve the texture. i tried it both ways (did you think i wasn’t going to try to skip adding gelatin to our ice cream?!) and with is definitely better.
maple syrup: though i’m usually all about the bolder flavor of darker maple syrup, here we’re using it as a natural sugar, not for its flavor, so a milder/lighter syrup would be better suited, if you’re going to buy a new bottle anyway. that said, i always buy grade b/grade a: dark color and robust flavor, so that’s what i used here and that was delicious too.
frangelico: this, too, is about helping the ice cream not freeze into a solid block of impenetrable ice. if you need to avoid alcohol, you can omit this and let the ice cream thaw on the counter for a few extra minutes before serving.
freeze dried strawberries: these are dry and crispy, like what you might find in breakfast cereal, rather than soft and leathery, like dried apricots. trader joe’s sells freeze dried strawberries, as do online retailers such as nuts.com. they are worth tracking down because they help absorb the water from the regular strawberries so that the strawberry swirl stays soft, instead of turning into a ribbon of red ice. they also boost the strawberry flavor. win win!
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