It started with this article from the Hairpin making the rounds in my newsfeed. Nutella, you and I have been apart for far, far too long. And then I realized I hadn’t made ice cream in a while, either, and lo, it was already mid-July, and I was wasting the summer, and then I realized how much closer I was to 28 than to 27, and then it turned into a true-to-form worry cycle. I think I know how to fix it, though.
I had tried making Clothilde’s Nutella Ice Cream once before, and it was great in a pinch, but it didn’t do it for me. It was too sweet and slightly grainy and it didn’t melt right and it just wasn’t ice cream enough for me. It was more like straight-up frozen Nutella, but with more sugar. Which is . . . fine, you know, if that’s your thing, but I wanted something more definitively ice-creamy. So I set out to make my own version, which usually goes interestingly (read: poorly), but I used Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream as my starting recipe. Nut butters already have plenty of fat and . . . emulsifiers? That is most definitely not the right word. Things that make other things thick and smooth and creamy. Anyway, I wanted to start with this recipe instead of a traditional egg-based custard, simply because I thought it would be easy to scale back the sugar and have Nutella ice cream without trying all that hard. Not to sound too smug, BUT I WAS SO RIGHT, YOU GUYS.
My first trial batch used Whole Foods’ eco-green-fair-whatever version of Nutella (confidential to Whole Foods: do you think you’re above Nutella? You heard it here first: NO ONE is above Nutella).
Their Notella is delicious, but the hazelnut flavor is less pronounced and the texture is closer to Jif than to gloopy messy Nutella. I scaled the sugar down to 1/3 c. and the cocoa down to 1/4 c. It makes a delicious chocolate ice cream, but is it Nutella ice cream? Nope. I think between the Notella and the cocoa powder we’re still missing the magic. Furthermore, the texture was weird: kind of grainy and crystallized, and not ice-creamy enough. Hindsight being a know-it-all, I remembered after the fact that processed nut butters play much more nicely in ice cream than all-natural. Whoops. I also started to wonder if I’d have to woman up and buy hazelnuts to make proper gianduja ice cream, which I still might do soon. FOR SCIENCE.
Anyway, for the next test batch I got real Nutella (duh, Sweets, don’t mess with perfection) and reduced the cocoa powder a little further, while upping the amount of Nutella and omitting the vanilla extract I’d put in the first batch. Then I did a taste test, FOR SCIENCE, and definitely not for my own pleasure. This batch had a much more pronounced hazelnut flavor, and the texture was creamy and perfect. Oh real Nutella, I’ll never cheat on you again. This is where I’d insert a picture of the finished product, but we ate it all at Ezmeralda’s True Blood viewing party before I remembered to take said picture. It looks like chocolate ice cream and tastes like Nutella. That’s all you need to know.
Sweets’ Nutella Ice Cream
3 c. half-and-half
2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
scant 1/3 c. sugar
pinch of salt
1 c. Nutella (this is just about an entire small jar, with a bit leftover for taste-testing)
1-2 tbsp. Frangelico or other hazelnut liqueur of your choice (optional)
In a large saucepan, whisk together the half-and-half, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt. Heat the mixture until it boils vigorously, whisking all the while to avoid lumps. Remove from heat and whisk in the Nutella until smooth. Chill the mixture for several hours until very cold, or pour into a large, heavy-duty freezer ziplock bag, carefully pressing out the air and sealing tightly, and place a whole bunch of ice in a large mixing bowl and fill with cold water. Place the ziplock bag in the ice-water bath and press it under the ice cubes so it’s completely submerged. Once the mixture is thoroughly chilled, add the Frangelico and then freeze the ice cream according your machine’s manufacturer instructions. Try to remember to mark World Nutella Day (February 5th!) on your calendar, so you won’t forget it next year. Enjoy!