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I'm Beth, a vertically-challenged photographer, stylist, recipe developer and explorer. Welcome to my blog!

Gelato and a visit to Florence's Duomo

Gelato and a visit to Florence's Duomo

It seems there is a gelateria on almost every street corner in Italy.  You'll see big colourful displays of gelato in freezer cases everywhere you look.  Sadly, a lot of this gelato is not homemade, it's made from a powdered mix, full of artificial flavours and colours, not very appetizing stuff.   Real artisanal gelato, crafted with fresh ingredients, is rarely on display.  It's more likely kept under cover in metal containers, to maintain proper temperature.  Sure, it's a little harder to find a true artisanal Gelateria, especially in popular tourist destinations, but definitely worth the effort.

Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore

Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore

When in doubt, seek out a Grom gelateria.  You can't go wrong with a Grom, their gelato is made with only the very best seasonal ingredients. Grom only sells strawberry gelato when fresh local strawberries are in season.  If you can't track down a Grom, how do you find really good gelato in Italy?

  • Look for covered canisters rather than open glass freezer cases.
  • The menu of flavours is another good  indicator, if you see 'Puffo' or bubblegum flavoured gelato, you can rest assured you are not getting artisanal gelato.
  • Sample the mint gelato, it should be white or the palest of greens, a bright green indicates the use of artificial colour and flavour.

One day in Florence I ignored these guidelines, and paid the price,  €8 for a really crappy cone that tasted like perfume.  What can I say, I had a weak moment.  I was utterly stupefied by the grandeur of Florence's Duomo.  I threw caution to the wind,  and ordered a zabaglione gelato just outside the cathedral from a shop with bright, fluffy mounds of gelato in a big glass case.  Lesson learned.

Brunelleschi’s masonry dome, still the tallest building in Florence.

Brunelleschi’s masonry dome, still the tallest building in Florence.

This fresco on the dome's interior depicts the Last Judgment, completed in 1579.

This fresco on the dome's interior depicts the Last Judgment, completed in 1579.

Fresco detail.

Fresco detail.

Giotto’s Campanile - The Cathedral's 85 meter high bell tower, completed in 1359.

Giotto’s Campanile - The Cathedral's 85 meter high bell tower, completed in 1359.

The cathedrals original facade was dismantled in 1588 and replaced with a colorful Neo-Gothic facade clad with white, green, and pink Tuscan marble.

The cathedrals original facade was dismantled in 1588 and replaced with a colorful Neo-Gothic facade clad with white, green, and pink Tuscan marble.

Piazza del Duomo, Florence.

Piazza del Duomo, Florence.

I've been experimenting with making gelato at home with my KitchenAid (Gladys) and this boozy recipe for
zabaglione gelato is divine.  It erases all memory of incident in Florence and evokes only happy memories of the beautiful Tuscan city.

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1  1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup dry Marsala
  • 2-3 inch strip of orange rind
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Beat yolks and sugar in medium bowl until pale yellow and thick, about 2-3 minutes. Heat milk, cream, and orange rind in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Stirring occasionally, bring the mixture barely to a simmer.  Remove the orange rind.

Whisk about 1/2 cup of the  hot milk mixture into yolk mixture to temper the eggs.  Then gradually incorporate rest of the hot milk into the eggs, whisking constantly.  Return the mixture to the saucepan.   Heat the custard over med-low heat stirring constantly until it leaves path on back of wooden spoon when finger is drawn across.  It will take about 6 minutes.  Pour the custard through sieve set over another bowl. Add the Marsala and vanilla, and give the mixture one final thorough whisk.  Cover with plastic wrap pressed directly on the surface of the custard, and refrigerate overnight.

Process custard in ice cream maker according to manufacturers directions.  Transfer gelato to a shallow container, and freeze until firm, at least 8 hours.



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