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A Bit Nutty: Gianduja Gelato

Pictured above is a bowl of Gianduja Gelato. Until I started making candies a decade ago, I had never heard of gianduja. In case you have never heard of it, gianduja is a chocolate product made from chocolate, hazelnuts and almonds. It has a similar texture to milk chocolate, although slightly less firm. I have been using gianduja every year to make gianduja truffles, but I always ended up with about half a pound of gianduja left over. This year was no exception, so I found myself thinking of ways I could prevent it from going to waste. With the weather being nice this last week, it seemed like a good excuse to make some gelato. I poked around looking for some recipes, but most seemed to call for milk chocolate and hazelnuts, so I just sort of made this recipe up.

The first time I made this I used whole milk—common for many gelatos—but the finished gelato was a little icy. The first batch also had issues with appearance since the gianduja didn’t full incorporate with the hot custard base. The custard was more than hot enough to melt the gianduja, but there were still little flecks that no amount of stirring would remedy; it looked like diet ice cream. It is worth noting that whole milk alone wasn’t an issue when I did the same process with dark chocolate in the dark chocolate gelato. I still had some gianduja left, so I made another batch later in the day. This time, I first melted the gianduja in a double boiler and then slowly tempered it with small amounts of the hot custard. This resulted in a silky smooth gelato free of the flecks of gianduja in the first batch. I remedied the icy texture by substituting half & half for the milk.

The resulting gelato has a wonderfully smooth texture with nutty overtones. The addition of a couple tablespoons of Frangelico liqueur helps promote the hazelnut flavor while keeping the gelato texture nice and soft.

Ingredients for making Gianduja Gelato.

Heat 2 1/2 cups of half & half over medium heat until simmering, stirring frequently.

Mix 3/4 cup of sugar with 5 egg yolks until light and fluffy.

With the mixer on medium-low, slowly pour the hot half & half into the egg and sugar mixture.

Heat the eggs, sugar and half & half until it reaches 165 °F to form a custard base. Remove from heat.

Chop 6 ounces of gianduja and melt in a double boiler over very hot (not simmering) water.

Mix in about 1/4 cup of the custard base into the melted gianduja. Stir until blended. Repeat with gradually larger amounts of the custard base until smooth.

Transfer the gelato base to an ice bath and chill until less than 45 °F. Add 2 tablespoons of Frangelico liqueur.

Freeze according to your maker’s instructions and transfer to a dedicated, odor-free container to ripen in the freezer for several hours.

The recipe pictured above, with detailed instructions and complete photo gallery can be found on the Gianduja Gelato recipe page.

  • I’m guessing this gelato tastes heavenly!

  • Impressive as always, amazing you figured out the half and half got rid of the flecks. So it’s a low call treat then, ha, ha.

  • Hi Brian,

    I’ve read the word gianduja several times but could not remember where.
    I knew it was related to food, but it’s name sound more like a spice.
    You won’t take it personnal nor will the readers, but there’s a saying that goes : ” the italians invented the icecream and the americans ruined it”.
    It’s common to see that food in more industrialized countries, be it the USA or any other country, tends to loose its natural qualities. Additives, preservatives and other “ives”. Nowadays one has to almost read the full label of a yughurt to see if it has milk on it.
    However, although I’ve never travelled to the USA, I know that being a big country there are many places where animals and vegetables are brought up naturaly, fortunately.
    And I know that there are some chocolate artisans making some good chocolate without adding some more dubious ingredients.
    Chocolate sure is a word that awakes one’s senses and I’m sure that your blog has all the ingredients to be a tasty success.
    Keep using good ingredients in the kichen and writing quality articles on your blog.

    Kind regards,


  • Linda, yes it turned out pretty good. Very smooth.

    Jeanna, I guess it is sort of low calorie with the half & half. It has less air in it, so it is denser, and that makes up for not being so fatty. It still tastes rich–yum!

    José, your comment reminds me of an old George Carlin (a comedian) bit where, reflecting on the prevalence of lemon in many household cleaning products in the early 80’s, remarked, “there’s lemons in everything now….except lemonade”. I don’t have the shelf-life, distribution/high volume logistics, or profit margin to contend with that I am sure play a significant part in the choices for ingredients that many mass-producers utilize, but I do know that quality, fresh, and natural ingredients always taste better (and more healthy, I presume). Thanks for the kind words and thoughtful comment.

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  • N.

    That sounds really good. My fiance and I just got the ice cream making attachment for our kitchenaid. We stuck with a simple chocolate gelato for our first time but now we want to branch out a bit and this sounds perfect.

  • N.: You’ll be hooked on making ice creams/gelatos in no time, and your friends will be impressed (if you share). Best of luck and thanks for stopping by!

  • Wonderful gelato! Hazelnut is such a nice flavor and goes so well with almost anything!

  • Angela

    I love this recipe Brian. It was 100% successful first time out of the gate. I also messed with it a little – I used Strauss Family Creamery Organic Whole milk (1 3/4) and Organic whipping cream (3/4). I think the Strauss family product has a higher fat content than other whole milks out there and it was just as creamy and without the icy problem.

    I also tried this with a Chuao Venezuelan 60% single origin chocolate. I think your addition of the frangelico was inspired. This is my son’s new favorite dessert – forget the store bought, this was well worth the effort. 😉

  • Hi Angela, long time no hear! I’m glad you enjoyed this recipe. I love making my own ice cream since you can be creative with the flavors that otherwise are unavailable (or unheard of). You should try the Chocolate Cappuccino Ice Cream recipe, too. It’s similar in texture to this and so yummy!

  • growitgreen

    I love gelato, but it is difficult to find a shop that makes it in my small town in S.C. so, I have to make it myself when I get a craving. I appreciate all of the recipes I can get my hands on. Check out this “cool” article about gelato at http://www.foodista.com.