Gelato Season

Grapenut Pudding Ice Cream

Now that we are smack-dab in the middle of ice cream season my thoughts turn to Grapenuts. Yup, Grapenuts. This ice cream flavor, although uncommon, is other-worldly-delicious.  I recall seeing it as a child on ice cream shop menus in Maine or Massachusetts. Grapenut Ice Cream is a nostalgic, New England flavor. Now I live in Italy and, of course, there is no shortage of heavenly gelato here.  All of the usual suspects are represented: Chocolate, Fior di Latte, Stracciatella (like chocolate chip), Caffe, Amarena (cherry/vanilla) and so on, but never Grapenut. Although the Italian shops make amazing gelato, they don't offer the flavor variety of their American counterparts. Luckily I have an ice cream machine & guests who smuggle Grapenuts for me in their luggage. It's an awesome hostess gift. Who knew, right? 

This recipe has developed over the years as each Summer I would obsessively play with the ratios of ingredients.  My version is a vanilla custard base (closer to Italian gelato using egg yolks and cooking the base) but walks the line with American ice cream because it has equal ratios of cream & milk and only 3 yolks.

Ingredients

Grapenut Ice Cream

2 cups of Whole Milk

2 cups of Heavy Cream

3 Egg Yolks

1/4 cup of a good quality, mild flavored Honey

1/4 cup of cane Sugar

2 Tablespoons of *Vanilla Paste

1 cup of **Grapenuts Cereal

Pour the milk & cream into a saucepan on medium heat and heat until just below boiling. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks, sugar & vanilla paste for a couple of minutes.  It should turn a lighter color of yellow and be pretty smooth. You will get a smoother texture if you use regular white caster sugar in leu of the cane sugar.  Either is fine.  I've been convinced that cane sugar is better for you and of higher quality as an ingredient, but I might be a victim of marketing.

Add 4 tablespoons of the hot milk mixture into your bowl of the egg/sugar mixture. This will warm up your yellow mix.  Then pour it all slowly into your milk & cream mixture on the stove while stirring constantly.  Important: Stir and add slowly, you do not want the egg to curdle.  Heat until thickened, about 3 minutes.  Until the mixture sticks to the back of your spoon.

Let it cool down and then cover your saucepan with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Or if you have more urgent ice cream needs, you could make an ice bath. The mixture must be completely cooled before placing into the ice cream machine.

Pour the cooled ice cream mixture into the machine and let it run for about 20 minutes.  (Follow the instructions on your particular machine). Add grape-nuts and let run another 5-7 minutes.  It can be eaten right away but is a softer consistency of ice cream and the grapenuts are still a bit too crunchy.  I usually place into an airtight container and freeze for several hours before serving. The ice cream is better once it sits, so that the grape-nuts become more soft. It is good day 1, but better on day 2.

Here's how your sugar/egg yolk/vanilla paste mix should look:

Sugar, Vanilla Paste, Egg Yolk

 Just turned ice cream in the cuisinart machine.

Freshly churned ice cream above.

Delegate.

* If you have never tried cooking or baking with Vanilla Paste; you need to!  It is available on Amazon.  Vanilla Paste is an amazing 1:1 substitute for vanilla extract and vanilla bean.  It contains the little black seeds, so that steeping and scraping the bean in this recipe is not necessary. I use it more often than not in place of both extract and vanilla beans.

** Post Grapenuts cereal does not contain nuts.  It is made with wheat and barley. No grapes, either!

Notes/Links:

This recipe is quite sweet because that's how we roll over here. However, you could easily use a bit less of the sugar & honey.

You could play with the milk & cream ratio, too.  My original inspiration was from the 1999 (ohhh, Prince!) Cuisinart Recipe Booklet for Premium Vanilla Ice Cream. Check out Ice Cream Nation for more recipes & info on the difference between French/Italian & American versions of ice cream: http://bit.ly/29QNJqL 

The NY Times has a master ice cream recipe (for the base) you could try which is richer: more yolks & cream.  You can add the Grapenuts flavor to this base or come up with your own flavors. The Times article also has a great guide for mix-ins: http://nyti.ms/1z8FKh5

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