Gelato

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Your guide to making Sicilian-Style Chocolate and Stracciatella Gelato

After a few cooking classes in Italy and a lot of experimenting, I’m sharing how to make our two favorite recipes and answering some frequently asked questions about gelato! 

Hand holding a cone filled with chocolate gelato.

When we visited Italy last year, we took several cooking classes in the different cities we visited. In one class we learned how to make Sicilian-style gelato. And today (almost a year later!) I’m sharing all the tips and tricks we learned, along with a slightly adapted recipe from the class. 

Process shot--Image of Chocolate Gelato in the ice cream maker.

First things first, let’s cover some commonly asked questions.

The difference between gelato and ice cream

While the two are similar, there are also two big differences between gelato and American ice cream.

Gelato has less butterfat — it’s generally made with whole milk instead of cream and it is churned slower which pumps in less air. Luckily, most home ice cream makers do a good job with the slow churning, making them perfect for homemade gelato!

Another big difference: It’s served 10-15 degrees warmer than ice cream.

Sicilian-style gelato is even more different from ice cream because it uses cornstarch instead of egg yolks to thicken the mixture. It also rarely contains cream. The base is typically milk, sugar, and cornstarch. The result? A lighter and more intensely flavored dessert.

In the classes we went to, all the recipes we made included a little cream. The recipe I’m sharing today also includes a little cream, but it’s primarily made with whole milk.

Image of the gelato being scooped up with an ice cream scoop.

Quick Gelato FAQs

What is the difference between gelato and gelati?

In Italian, gelati is plural.

Which is healthier: gelato or ice cream?

Gelato typically has fewer calories, less sugar, and a lower fat content per serving than ice cream. You can read about more of the differences in nutritional content here.

How to make this recipe

For this recipe, you’ll need an ice cream maker. Here’s the one I use and love. Additionally, I highly recommend a candy thermometer to ensure the mixture reaches the right temperature. While simple to make, it does require some patience and takes a good amount of time to fully cool before adding it to the ice cream maker.

Scooping out some gelato from the container.

QUICK TIP

What is stratacellio gelato? The Italian word ‘stratacellio’ more or less translates to ‘tattered’ or ‘scattered’ in English. Stratacellio gelato is ice cream with little bits of chocolate scattered throughout the mixture. It resembles chocolate chip ice cream, but it isn’t made with chips–it uses ribbons of melted chocolate that hardens when frozen.

No ice cream maker?

The ice cream maker will give you the best results, but it is possible to make this recipe without one. Here’s how to do it:

  • Let the mixture cool completely and then pour into a sturdy, freezer-safe pan (like a bread pan). Place in freezer for 30 minutes.
  • You’ll need to “churn” the mixture by hand as it freezes. Whisk it every 30-45 minutes (by hand or with a hand mixer) until it reaches the texture of frozen yogurt.
  • Once it reaches that texture, leave it in the freezer until ready to eat. This should take about 4 hours (churned about 6 times).

Below are two recipes adapted from the Italian and instructions for both flavors. I’ve also included a full video tutorial (for the chocolate version) as well. Enjoy!

Image of the stratacellio gelato in a cone being held.

More frozen desserts:

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Gelato

5 from 6 votes
Your guide to making Sicilian-Style Chocolate and Stracciatella Gelato
Print Recipe

Gelato

5 from 6 votes
Your guide to making Sicilian-Style Chocolate and Stracciatella Gelato
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine Italian
Keyword gelato
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Chilling Time 6 hours
Total Time 7 hours
Servings 12 servings
Calories 369kcal
Author Chelsea

Ingredients

Chocolate Gelato

  • 4 cups whole milk (I would not recommend a lower fat milk or dairy-less alternatives)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 ounces chopped high-quality semi-sweet chocolate (I do not recommend milk chocolate in this recipe)
  • 2 tablespoons special dark unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch process; Hershey's sells this)
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Tiny pinch fine sea salt (to balance/intensify flavors; less than 1/8 teaspoon)
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Stracciatella Gelato

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Tiny pinch fine sea salt (to balance/intensify flavors; less than 1/8 teaspoon)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (OR 1/2 of 1 3-inch vanilla bean OR 2 teaspoons vanilla extract) reduce if sensitive to vanilla
  • 3.5 ounces bittersweet, dark, semi-sweet, or milk chocolate (whatever your preference; in Italy we used dark) divided
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil

Instructions

Chocolate Gelato

  • In a large pot, bring the milk and cream to a low simmer (mixture above 140 degrees F, but below 175 degrees F). 
  • Chop the chocolate bar and add to the cream mixture stirring constantly and using a rubber spatula to scrape the bottom making sure the chocolate doesn't settle and burn on the bottom.
  • In a large bowl, add together the cocoa powder, cornstarch, salt, and white sugar. Whisk until ingredients are well combined.
  • Using a ladle, start adding the hot milk/cream mixture with the sugar mixture. Whisk constantly to combine and once combined, add everything back into the pot.
  • Warm through, stirring constantly until thickened. A candy thermometer should reach 170 degrees F.
  • Once the mixture has reached the temperature and thickened, remove from heat. Set out at room temperature until the mixture cools to room temperature. Stir in the vanilla extract. Cover with plastic wrap touching the top of the mixture (keeps ingredients from separating). Place the covered bowl in the fridge until it becomes cold, at least 2-3 hours. (Best case: 6 hours)
  • Once the mixture is thoroughly chilled, add to an ice cream or gelato maker and follow appliance directions to create gelato. Serve immediately.
  • Spoon leftover gelato into an airtight container and place in the freezer. Best eaten within 2-3 days. (We like it fresh out of the machine, otherwise it tends to get icy/too hard in the freezer and consistency and flavor does change the longer it's in the freezer).

Stracciatella Gelato

  • In a large pot, bring the milk and cream to a low simmer (mixture above 140 degrees F, but below 175 degrees F). 
  • In a large bowl, combine the cornstarch, salt, and white sugar. Whisk until ingredients are well combined.
  • Using a ladle, start adding the hot milk/cream mixture with the sugar mixture. Whisk constantly to combine, and once combined, add everything back into the pot.
  • Warm through, stirring constantly until thickened. A candy thermometer should reach 170 degrees F.
  • Once the mixture has reached the temperature and thickened, remove from heat. Set out at room temperature until the mixture cools to room temperature. Stir in the vanilla paste, seeds from bean or vanilla extract. Cover with plastic wrap touching the top of the mixture (keeps ingredients from separating). Place covered bowl in the fridge until it becomes cold, at least 2-3 hours. (Best case: 6 hours)
  • Once the mixture is thoroughly chilled, add to an ice cream or gelato maker and follow appliance directions to create gelato.
  • When the gelato is near finished, combine 2 ounces of chocolate (finely chopped) and coconut oil in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in bursts of 15 seconds, stirring in between each burst for 15 seconds until smooth and melted. Transfer melted chocolate to a plastic bag, seal, and snip off the tip with scissors. Pipe the melted chocolate into the churning gelato to create chocolate ribbons. Finely chop the remaining 1.5 ounces of chocolate to get small chunks. Stir in while the gelato is still churning. Serve immediately.
  • Spoon leftover gelato into an airtight container and place in the freezer. Best eaten within 2-3 days. (We like it fresh out of the machine; otherwise it tends to get icy/too hard in the freezer and consistency and flavor does change the longer it's in the freezer).

Video

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 369kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 30mg | Sodium: 77mg | Potassium: 299mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 49g | Vitamin A: 409IU | Calcium: 198mg | Iron: 1mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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13 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Honestly, I had no idea you could make gelato at home. Definitely trying this over ice cream this summer, I’m super excited!

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