Artusi’s Almond Milk Gelato

After last week’s Amaretti Ice Cream Sandwiches, I’ve still got this thing for almonds. And ice cream. Or more precisely, gelato. In this case, it’s almond milk gelato, scented with a splash of orange blossom water – a 120 year old recipe from my favourite, Pellegrino Artusi‘s cookbook. I’ve used his gelato and sorbet recipes before and, whether using a modern ice cream maker or the good ol’ freeze and stir method, have always had good results. This sour cherry and cinnamon sorbet was particularly memorable.

Making your own almond milk is easy and, much like making your own bread or pasta from scratch, extremely satisfying. I first did it for this recipe of Artusi’s for biancomangiare, an almond milk pudding to rival any pannacotta, then again for this biancomangiare – same name, but quite a different recipe, a comforting Renaissance dish of chicken broth and almond milk thickened with bread.

Artusi calls for several “bitter almonds” in his recipe. I discussed these in last week’s post – not actually almonds at all, but apricot kernels (which could very well pose as almonds for their similarity), they add a slightly bitter flavour to the sweeter almonds. You can find raw apricot kernels in health food stores – just treat them as you would almonds, blanching to remove the skin – otherwise you can simply leave them out.

Throughout his recipe book, much like many historic cookbooks, Artusi often leaves out procedures that he assumes his knowledgeable readers are already familiar with. So if you have never blanched almonds before to remove their skins, it’s as simple as dropping them in boiling water for a minute, draining, then rubbing or squeezing the loosened skins off the almonds. If you wanted to save yourself ten minutes, I suppose you could buy your almonds already blanched but they may be drier than raw almonds that you blanch yourself and produce less tasty milk. If you ask me, always go for the freshest, least processed ingredients possible. It’s really not as fiddly as it sounds and the rest of the recipe, you’ll see, is so simple and takes only a matter of minutes.

I’d be very tempted to make an affogato out of this – a strong, hot espresso poured over a healthy scoop of almond milk gelato that “drowns” into a wonderful amaretto-esque concoction. The flavour of almond milk reminds me of summertime, perhaps from many an almond milk granita from my favourite Sicilian gelateria in Florence, Gelateria Carabe’ (that does sound strange, but when it comes to granita, Sicilians are in the know). Or because it also reminds me of a summer holiday in Puglia, in Italy’s deep south. On a particularly hot day in beautiful, baroque Lecce, there’s nothing quite like relaxing with a refreshing caffe in ghiaccio con latte di mandorla – an espresso poured over a glass full of fresh ice cubes and topped up with almond milk. Which brings me back to the affogato…

Artusi’s Gelato di Latte di Mandorla
Almond Milk Gelato

Serves 8-10

  • 200 gr sugar
  • 150 gr almonds
  • 4 or 5 bitter almonds (apricot kernels)
  • 800 ml water
  • 200 ml cream
  • A splash of orange blossom water

Make a sugar syrup by boiling the water with the sugar for 10 minutes. Blanch and skin the almonds and apricot kernels (if using) and pound them in a mortar or blend them in a food processor with the syrup. Strain through a muslin cloth to separate the almond milk from the almond solids. Mix this sweet almond milk with the cream, add a splash of orange blossom water and place the mixture in a gelato maker to freeze.

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Comments

11 Responses to “Artusi’s Almond Milk Gelato”
  1. Rosa says:

    What a heavenly ice cream flavor! I bet it tastes divine.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  2. Valeria says:

    I have been making home-made almond milk and I am so happy with it! Now we might just wait for the warmer season to make gelato –wish I had a bigger freezer!

  3. Zita says:

    Emiko, this is a wonderful post again. I’m doing a sugar (and other sweets)-free diet this month and somehow so many of the bloggers post sweet recipes. But I already have a very chocolate-y recipe I’ll try to make on the very first of March! :)

    • Emiko says:

      I know what you mean! When I had gestational diabetes I had to avoid sugar completely and so I tried to avoid posting any desserts during that time too! You’re right, there are lots of desserts blogged about out there. It occurred to me one day while going through pinterest that SO many of the food photographs that people love are sweets! Sure, it’s easy to make desserts look appetising and beautiful – most people have a sweet tooth! You’d definitely get more of a reaction on a chocolate cake than a tripe sandwich! ;) Anyway, if I weren’t following the traditional recipe for this, I’d substitute a smaller portion of agave syrup for the sugar syrup. It’s still sweet but has a much lower GI and I think the flavour would really complement the almond milk! Looking forward to your chocolate recipe!

  4. Alessandra says:

    Hi Emiko, lovely recipe, I love latte di mandorla! Just wanted to let you know that actually, mandorle amare are not necessarily apricot kernels (armelline in Italian); in Sicily we had an almond tree that had only bitter almonds. They are poisonous, and I believe just a couple can kill you, but I think in tiny amounts they can be used to give that bitter flavour. I think apricot kernels too are slightly poisonous, but not as much as bitter almonds, so they are safer to use. In the UK and the US bitter almonds are not for sale, but you can order the extract on-line; just be careful not to touch your lips if you have any on your fingers; I did it once and my lips went numb!

    • Emiko says:

      From what I understand, armelline are apricot kernels – the main ingredient in amaretti di Saronno, to give an example. Artusi calls them ‘mandorle amare’ but these too are apricot kernels. I do know that there are different types of apricot kernels (just to add to the confusion!) and that the ‘sweetest’ ones are Italian ones. They do indeed contain very small levels of cynanide (the more bitter they are, the more toxic they are; in Australia they recommend eating no more than 4 per day), on the other hand, they’ve also been touted as a ‘miracle cure’ for cancer! Talk about a controversial ingredient! Interesting that you cannot buy them in the US and the UK, they are available in Australia.

      • Alessandra says:

        Not sure about the apricot ones, but the real bitter almonds are not for sale; I remember my grandfather telling us not even to get close to the tree at our house in Sicily! It was a regular almond tree, but all the almonds from that tree were bitter and very poisonous indeed!

  5. I’ve never made my own almond milk but would love to try and this beautiful recipe looks like just the thing to prompt me to do so. It’s never too cold for ice cream in my opinion – happy to eat it all year round :-)

  6. Laura says:

    I’ve been having so much fun with our newest latte di mandorla product – granita, gelato and caffe macchiato. Hadn’t thought of adding a little orange blossom water to the gelato – am definitely going to give this a try next.

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