Computational behavior theory and cultural evolution

Tag Archives: gelato

Triple Coffee Gelato

The most common problem with coffee gelato is its consistency: adding coffee means taking out either milk or cream, which often results in a icy rather than creamy texture (even at professional Italian gelaterie). My solution is to use coffee concentrate. I use a Moka pot, the Italian standard way of making coffee in the house, and I concentrate the coffee by re-cycling the water through the machine for multiple brewing cycles, each time replacing the used coffee grounds with fresh coffee. For this recipe I use what is marketed in Italy as a “3 serving” machine, yelding about 1/2 cup of coffee. I re-cycle 3 times, hence the name of this recipe. The base gelato recipe is from here.

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup sucrose and 1/4 cup glucose (why glucose?)
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 7 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup coffee concentrate (see below)

Heat up the milk, sugar and vanilla extract in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves. In a bowl, stir the egg yolks until homogeneous, then pour the warm milk over them stirring constantly. Scrape everything back into the saucepan and cook (without boiling) for a few minutes, stirring continuously with a spatula until the mixture coats the spatula. Let cool (or not), add the heavy cream and the coffee concentrate, and pour in the gelato maker.

Variations: I often complement this gelato with toffeed nuts. Melt 1/2 stick of butter with 1/4 cup sugar and let go on high heat until the mixture starts to brown. Browning happens fast, so be on your guard. To verify that the toffee is ready, drop a drop in cold water cup. It’s ready when it solidifies into a hard lump. Then you pour the toffee on parchment paper, add the nuts (I use pecans) and let cool in the freezer to make the whole thing brittle. Mix the nuts in when the gelato is fresh out of the machine. After discovering this variation, I am not making plain coffee gelato again.

Lemon gelato (or other citrus, or passionfruit…)

This lemon gelato, somewhat inspired by this one, is not a lemon sorbet, because it has milk and cream, and is not a custard gelato, because it does not have eggs. It ends up tasting like frozen lemon cheese-cake. You are welcome to crumble some graham crackers in it!

  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (about 3-4 lemons)
  • 1/4 cup sucrose + 1/4 cup glucose
  • 2 pinches of salt (see the lemon sorbet for why more salt is better!)
Warm up the milk and sugar until the latter dissolves. Whisk in slowly the lemon juice, then add the zest. Pour in the ice-cream maker, add the heavy cream, and go!
UPDATE: You can substitue another citrus for lemon. You can also make passionfruit gelato by omitting the lemon juice, adding 2 cups pureed passionfruit and 2 tbsp sugar.

Ginger gelato


  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup glucose + 1/4 cup sucrose (why glucose?)
  • 2-3 pinches of salt
  • 1 largish knob of ginger
  • 8 medium egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream

This recipe builds on the vanilla gelato recipe. Peel the ginger and slice thinly. Boil it for several minutes together with the sucrose in as little water as possible (a small pot helps). Leave in the fridge overnight or for a few hours for best results. Strain the ginger syrup but don’t throw out the pieces of ginger – it’s candied ginger and you may want to add it back to the ice cream later!

Warm up the ginger syrup with the milk and salt in a pot. Mix the egg yolks in a bowl and pour the warm milk over them while whisking. Pour back into the pot and warm on low heat mixing constantly with a spatula until – the books say – the mixture start to coat the spatula (you quickly learn to recognize this). Remove from heat, let cool for how long you have patience, add the heavy cream and the candied ginger pieces, mix, and put in the ice cream maker.

NOTE: You may be tempted to cook the ginger and sugar directly in the milk, or worse ad grated ginger to an ongoing custard. These procedures may curdle the milk or custard, though, and even if they don’t you won’t get the candied ginger, which adds considerably to the final result!

Vanilla gelato

(This recipe is derived from here, with less sugar, less heavy cream, more egg yolk, and shorter preparation time)


  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup sucrose
  • 2-3 pinches of salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 medium egg yolks
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Warm up milk with the sugar, salt, and 1 tbsp vanilla extract in a saucepan, until they dissolve.  Mix the egg yolks in a bowl and pour the warm milk over them while whisking (pour slowly, so that the egg does not cook). Pour back into the saucepan and warm on low heat mixing constantly with a spatula until – the books say – the mixture start to coat the spatula (you quickly learn to recognize this). Remove from heat, let cool for how long you have patience, add the heavy cream and 1 tbsp vanilla extract, mix, and put in the ice cream maker.

Avocado Gelato


  • 2 ripe avocado – the softer the better
  • 2 cups (475 ml) whole milk
  • 2 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) of sugar
  • a pinch of baking soda


Cut 2 or 3 strips of lemon peel from the lemon and put the to boil in a pan with the 1.5 cups milk and sugar over medium heat. Grate the rest of the lemon peel into the milk. While the milk heats up, dissolve the corn starch in 1/4 cup milk (better in a cup with a wisk) and add it in the pan. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Turn off heat and remove the lemon peel. As the milk cools, peel the avocados and cut them into pieces. Purée them in a food processor or blender with 1/4 cup milk. Add them to the milk, add a pinch of baking soda, and wisk well. Put the mixture into a gelato machine.


This recipe is modified from this one. I exploit more of the lemon and I use 1/3 of the sugar (my standard rule for U.S. frozen dessert sources). The pinch of baking soda adds a hint of “cake batter” flavor. A food processor is better because the avocados tend to get stuck in a blender; this can be avoided by adding some milk). The flavor is much better when the avocados are very ripe (even browning), but the color may be somewhat compromised.