Hazelnut is the introvert of gelatos. Too often it’s thought of as merely chocolate’s partner in Gianduja, Bacio, and Nutella. We forget that hazelnut has its own gelato identity. And it’s glorious.
Many home recipes call for infusing the dairy by soaking the hazelnuts for 30minutes to 3 hours. I found the results to be unreliable. At best there was a mild hazelnut flavor.
To get that intense nut flavor found in artisanal gelaterias, I turned to the tried and true method I use for Pistachio and Peanut Butter gelato. The trick is to emulsify nut paste with a hot liquid sugar before adding it to the base. It sounds advanced, but really all this means is heating up sugar and water until it’s boiling then pouring it into a running mixer with the nut paste.
I believe it’s easier to find good hazelnut paste than good hazelnuts (too often they are flavorless or rancid from sitting on the shelf for too long) No need to spend a fortune. Hazelnut paste from the Piemonte region is the gold standard but I find that less expensive varieties can be amazing as well. The one sacrosanct rule is that it must be 100% hazelnuts – no other ingredients. Any additional sugars or fillers will affect the texture and freezing point of the gelato.Print