Holiday

Stracciatella Chocolate Hazelnut Gelato Pie

“What is this vision of deliciousness I see before me?” you ask? A chocolate hazelnut gelato pie in name, but it is so much more than that. There are layers involved and layers make things scrumptiously complex. The base of this pie is a lightly sweetened chocolate cookie crust. Resting on top of the crust lies a creamy stracciatella chocolate hazelnut gelato. Stracciatella is the Italian version of chocolate chip ice cream except there are no chips or chunks, just wispy bits of hardened chocolate throughout the gelato. The subtle hazelnut flavors breaks through the richness of the rest of the pie and brings it to a new level of decadence and addictiveness. Finally, the fudgey ganache topping speckled with toasted hazelnuts. Since my keyboard is still recovering from drooling on it while describing this ganache on Tuesday I’ll just say yum.

A couple months ago I brought this pie to a barbecue at my parents’ house. Having sampled the gelato I was excited to try the pie. The dessert received rave reviews, which I’m sure you guessed based on the uncharacteristically long description of it in the beginning of the post. The surprise of the night was that my dad claimed, and continues to claim to this day over two months later, that this was the best dessert he has ever eaten. That’s right, not one of the best, but the best.

Now my dad has a healthy ice cream obsession as is family tradition so you might be thinking well of course he liked it, it’s gelato. But you have to know that my dad is a creature of habit. Yes he might eat ice cream every single night and yes there were 12 half gallons of ice cream in his house on my last count, but they were all of the same three flavors. God forbid he run out ;-). He also has this extraordinary skill to pick through a dessert and consume only the ice cream portion, so the fact that he ate this pie in entirety and claimed it as the best dessert ever? That is what we call a food victory.

Chocolate Hazelnut Gelato Pie
 
Yield: 10 servings
Ingredients
for the crust
  • 6 ounces chocolate wafers
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch of salt
for the gelato
  • 1½ cups toasted hazelnuts
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • ⅛ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
for the topping
Directions
for the crust
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Pulse the chocolate wafers in a food processor until fine crumbs. Add the butter, sugar and salt pulse until well combined.
  3. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a springform pans.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes then cool on a wire rack.
for the gelato
  1. If the hazelnuts are not toasted, bake them in an even layer on a baking sheet at 350 degrees F for 10-12 minutes. Let cool.
  2. Rub the hazelnuts to try and get rid of as much of the skins as possible. Use a food processor to finely chop the toasted hazelnuts.
  3. In a medium sauce pan heat the milk, 1 cup of the cream, sugar and salt until warm. Once warm remove from the heat.
  4. Add the chopped hazelnuts to the warmed mixture, cover and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
  5. Place the milk chocolate in a large bowl.
  6. In a medium saucepan heat the remaining 1 cup of cream until it starts to boil. Remove from the heat and pour over the milk chocolate.
  7. Stir the chocolate and cream until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
  8. In the medium saucepan used to heat the cream, place a mesh strainer over top then pour the hazelnut mixture through the strainer into the medium saucepan. Push on the hazelnuts with a wooden spoon to try and get as much liquid as possible. Discard the hazelnuts.
  9. Rewarm the hazelnut liquid over medium heat. While the liquid is heating whisk together the egg yolks in a medium bowl. Once the hazelnut liquid is warm, slowly pour the liquid into the bowl with the egg yolks, whisking constantly, to temper the eggs. Pour the warmed eggs and liquid back into the saucepan.
  10. Still on medium heat, stir constantly until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula.
  11. Place the bowl with the melted milk chocolate mixture over an ice bath and set a mesh strainer on top. Pour the egg mixture through the mesh strainer into the large bowl. Add the vanilla and stir until cool.
  12. Once the mixture is cool chill in the refrigerator completely. Once cold, pour into your ice cream maker following the manufacturer's directions.
  13. While the mixture is in the ice cream maker, melt the bittersweet chocolate over a double boiler and stir until it's smooth. Transfer the chocolate into a measuring cup with a pouring spout.
  14. During the last couple minutes of churning in the ice cream maker pour the melted bittersweet chocolate into the ice cream maker in a thin stream to create the stracciatella.
  15. When the gelato is done churning carefully spoon it into the prepared crust and smooth the top. Freeze until no longer soft.
for the topping
  1. Take the pie out of the freezer and carefully pour the prepared ganache over the top of the gelato. Smooth the top with a spatula then sprinkle with the toasted hazelnuts.
  2. Freeze for several hours or overnight. Remove from the freezer 15-20 minutes before serving.
Notes
I use Ghiradelli chocolate bars.

Crust from Martha Stewart.
Gelato from The Perfect Scoop.

Prosciutto & Gruyere Pinwheels

Sometimes the simple things in life are the most delicious. Especially when they involve cheese. And prosciutto; prosciutto makes everything better. These prosciutto and gruyere pinwheels made with puff pastry are simple, delicious and fitting for the next time you’re cooking for guests.

Every year my friend goes on a trip with the same group of women and for one of the nights they have an appetizer party. All the women bring a couple appetizers and they cook the miniature items up for dinner. Brilliant! Smaller sizes of candy is a total bummer. But bite sized food? Now that’s a whole different ball game. The joy of appetizers is that you can have thirds, fourths and fifths. Just do a little drive by on your way to refill your wine glass and pop a pinwheel in your mouth. No one will be the wiser!

This year my friend commissioned me to make her appetizers and these pinwheels made it on the list. According to my friend the pinwheels were one of the favorites of the trip. I tried one and the buttery flakiness of the puff pastry with the saltiness of the prosciutto and the creaminess of the cheese made it an incredibly satisfying bite. A kind of bite you would pull an oh-I-don’t-mind-if-I-do-definitely-not-my-sixth maneuver on.

Except I couldn’t do that. I could have one. As in singular. And that, my friends, is why I could never be a caterer. You make all this food, but aren’t able to sit down and have a major snarf session when it’s all done? Torture! So when you make these pinwheels cook up some extra so you and all your guests can have fifths and sixths.

Prosciutto & Gruyere Pinwheels
 
Yield: 16 pinwheels
Ingredients
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 1 cup shredded gruyere cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
Directions
  1. Defrost both puff pastry sheets according to the directions on the package.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Lay the defrosted puff pastry flat and evenly spread the mustard leaving a ½ inch border on 1 long side of the puff pastry.
  4. Evenly place the prosciutto on the mustard topped puff pastry.
  5. Sprinkle the shredded cheese evenly over the prosciutto.
  6. Brush the beaten egg on the ½ inch border.
  7. Roll the topped puff pastry up the long way starting at the long edge without the egg, similar to rolling a jelly roll. Make sure the roll is sealed.
  8. Wrap the roll in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
  9. Take the roll out of the fridge and cut into ½ inch slices.
  10. Place the slices on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Recipe adapted from Pepperidge Farms.