Recipe: Strawberry, Mint and Dark Chocolate Gelato (Vegan!)

I blame FaceBook for this recipe.  I was just minding my own business, girding my loins for the next battle with spreadsheets, when FaceBook reminded me that this is strawberry season, and wouldn’t it be nice to make strawberry ice-cream?  As it happens, I had about three punnets of tiny strawberries in my fridge, waiting for me to think of something clever to do with them, and my first thought was that really easy strawberry frozen yoghurt recipe by David Lebovitz.  A sensible choice for a weeknight.  

served

Only then for some reason it occurred to me that this frozen yoghurt doesn’t have eggs, therefore it was my clear duty to make it vegan.  (No, I don’t follow that particular leap of logic either.  This is just the sort of thing that happens in my head sometimes.  It can’t be helped.)  Almond milk seemed like the way to go, especially as I love the combination of strawberries with mint, and coconut milk would have been a bit overpowering.  And then I remembered another ice-cream recipe that I have, for fresh mint ice-cream with dark choc chips…

I wanted the smoothness that one gets from making a sorbet-ish syrup, but I also really like the freshness of an uncooked strawberry ice-cream, so I compromised by blending all the strawberries and then taking out half a cup and boiling them into a syrup with the sugar.  Though not very well, as they were determined to erupt from my slightly-too-small saucepan.  The results weren’t quite as smooth as I’d hoped, but the texture was somehow pure gelato.  I have no idea how one makes an actual gelato, but I seem to have reverse-engineered it.

It’s good.

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700g hulled strawberries (which is about 3 1/2 punnets before you hull them.  You’ll just have to eat the rest.  It’s a hard life.
1 cup caster sugar
1 1/2 cups almond milk
4 sprigs of mint
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp strawberry jam (optional)
100 g good dark chocolate (oh so very compulsory)

Now what will you do with it?

Blend the strawberries in a blender.  That was a very redundant sentence, wasn’t it?

puree

Remove half a cup of the strawberry puree and put it in a smallish – but not too small – saucepan with half a cup of water and the sugar.  Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved, then bring to the boil.  My goal was to boil this to 108°C (thread stage), but I never got there, because the syrup really wanted to erupt all over the stove.  Also, I’m fairly certain my candy thermometer was lying to me.  I really need a working one.  Simmering the syrup over lowish heat for about ten minutes will probably produce the sort of effect I got, though I stand by my theory that boiling the syrup to thread stage would have been great.

Note the lying, lying thermometer.  You don't get bubbles like that at 70°C...

Note the lying, lying thermometer. You don’t get bubbles like that at 70°C…

Pour the syrup back into the blender along with the almond milk, and add the mint leaves and balsamic vinegar.  Blend again until everything is mixed and the mint leaves are just tiny flecks.

Refrigerate until very cold.

Churn in your ice-cream machine until very nearly set. Chop up the dark chocolate.

churning

In the last five minutes, dollop in the jam if using (my strawberries were a little bland and needed it) and add the chocolate.  Let the ice-cream maker distribute these through the mixture.

churning2

Transfer to a freezer-proof container and let freeze a little more before serving.

This needs no accompaniment, but would be fun with a suitable wafer.

served2

Variations

This gelato is of course vegan and gluten-free.  It’s not low fructose, and really never could be without being a wholly different recipe.  If you need it to be nut-free, you could use soy milk or yoghurt, or even dairy milk or yoghurt, but I would not use coconut milk (too strongly flavoured) or rice milk (too thin).  Oat milk would be a little weird I think, but a sunflower-seed milk would probably work.

You could swap out the strawberries for pretty much any other berry, I should think.  The mint and chocolate are pretty much optional, and you could use lemon juice in place of the vinegar if you wanted to.  A dash of a suitable liqueur would be lovely.  If you like your ice-cream with chunks that aren’t chocolate, you could always reserve a few of the strawberries un-chopped.  Ooh – or you could buy freeze-dried raspberries and make raspberry-chip strawberry ice-cream!  Though I imagine the raspberries would not stay crunchy in these circumstances…

churned

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4 responses to “Recipe: Strawberry, Mint and Dark Chocolate Gelato (Vegan!)

  1. I’m glad your head does work the way it does and you felt compelled to make this vegan – because it looks great! I love the mix of flavours and would have no trouble at all finishing off that last 1/2 punnet of strawberries 🙂

  2. Cannot wait to give this one a go.

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