The Philippines is a hot country all year round. It’s hot when it’s dry; it’s hot when it’s rainy. And though it’d be a great treat to have something cold to eat, your usual sorbetes can be sort of crystalized and not as smooth with the texture, as a result of compromising the quality to cut back on costs. And not most Filipinos can afford to have an ice cream maker at home.
One, because it’s expensive.
Two, in a country where quality education only comes by way of private school, no, we do not need to spend money on an ice cream maker.
And three, unnecessary expensive expenses are expensive and unnecessary.
But quality gelato does not have to be expensive. Remember that ice cream making has been there way before the invention of freezers and liquid nitrogen. So there’s nothing that can stop you.
All that you need would be:
- 4 egg yolks
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 cups (2 boxes/packs) of all-purpose cream (heavy cream if you can afford it)—chill one box, and leave the other one in room temperature
- Dash of salt
- Vanilla Extract
- Some ice cubes
Sounds like a normal, inexpensive list of ingredients of absolute normalcy, right? I think if you tried to buy all those in the grocery, you could buy them under 120PHP. Definitely beats that 500PHP Hagen-Daazs.
The equipment you need:
- A saucepan
- A tray
- A wire whisk (I don’t know if you could do this with a fork, but hey!)
- A plastic spatula (or wooden spoon, or just your normal sandok ng kanin)
- A big bowl (the serving bowl for rice would do)
- A relatively big bowl, but smaller than #5 (preferably metal/mixing bowl, but normal ones are fine)
- Cling wrap/plastic wrap. If you don’t have it, aluminum foil is fine.
Remember to prepare your ingredients and equipment before you proceed with the cooking.
- Prepare the custard base. Separate the yolks. Beat the yolks together with the sugar. Add a tablespoon of vanilla extract and a dash of salt and beat together.
- Chill one box of cream; heat the other box in a saucepan. Heat it but don’t let it boil.
- Take it off the heat, and temper the egg mixture. Carefully ladle the hot cream into the egg mixture while mixing it. Once it’s mixed in well, pour the custard cream back into the saucepan. Heat it up again on low heat and remember to mix it continuously until it thickens. Be patient. If you stop mixing, the edges will cook and curdle. And if you cook it on high heat, you’ll cook the edges and the hot air will make unwanted bubbles in your custard. Those bubbles will catch water and make ice crystals later when you freeze the ice cream. It’ll be ready when it falls with creamy ribbons from your mixing spoon.
- Pour the custard into the tray. Mix it a bit to let it cool so you won’t destroy your freezer. When it’s not too hot, you can pop it in the freezer for the next thirty minutes.
- In those thirty minutes, put some ice cubes into the bigger bowl. You can put rock salt or normal salt on them to not make them melt as easily. (Read: it’s a chemistry thing.) Take half of the chilled box of cream and pour it into your mixing bowl. With a wire whisk, whisk it over the ice bath until it doubles in volume. Do this again with the other half. You do it half-by-half because whipping an entire box of cream can be difficult—it can be done, though, so it’s up to you. (You can always do this with an electric mixer, but I promised you could make this without that equipment. I just did.)
- Once the whipping cream doubles in volume, take out your tray of custard from the freezer. Break up the custard then gently fold in the cream.
- Put everything back together in the tray and cover it with cling wrap or aluminum foil.
- Check on it every hour for the next four hours and mix it up with a plastic spatula to disturb any possible crystallization going on.
If you want to marble up some chocolate, just melt a bar of it and then pour it in zig-zags unto the gelato tray when the gelato’s frozen already. Mix it up with the plastic spatula in an 8-figure pattern.
If you want your gelato in chocolate flavor, you can add three tablespoons of cocoa powder to step 3 when you heat the mixture again. You could also add in half a cup of melted dark chocolate. If you’re using chips, make sure they’re the ones you’d be willing to eat, not the ones you just decorate with.
If you want to do it in a different flavor (strawberry, peach, anything) incorporate it to half of the chilled cream before step#5, and mix that half to the custard base. Only use the other half of the cream to whip.
Remember to flavor check after step 6. That’s your last chance to change anything in your recipe. At this point, you can add in cookies, fruit or chunks of chocolate.