Gianduja Gelato (Milk Chocolate and Hazelnut Gelato)
This classic gianduja gelato made with real roasted hazelnuts and milk chocolate has a nutty sweetness that is reminiscent of childhood treats. An unforgettable dessert!
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Gianduja is one of those quintessential Italian flavors, one most of us North Americans came to know under the brand name Nutella. Gianduja was indeed first a spread created in the North of Italy in the early 19th century. It is said that import laws of the time-restricted cocoa supplies, and that gave an Italian chocolatier from Turin the idea of combining chocolate with hazelnuts, which had liberal access to. This combination was so popular that a chocolate manufacturer soon created a mass-produced a milk chocolate-hazelnut candy—and the rest is history.
The gianduja “flavor” is now applied to so many treats, from candies to cakes. Gianduja gelato is also a hugely popular flavor, along with Baci, another candy-inspired flavor that combines dark chocolate with hazelnuts. Both flavors are dreamy, but I keep going back to gianduja for its nutty sweetness that reminds me of the spoonfuls of Nutella I’d secretly steal of the rare jars that made it into my parents’ pantry when I was a child.
Making homemade gianduja gelato is pretty simple: you add milk chocolate to a Sicilian-style gelato base, then mix in ground toasted hazelnuts. The result is an unforgettable treat that pleases everyone, from kids to kids-at-heart.
Helpful Tips for Making Gianduja Gelato
The quality of the milk chocolate you use matters: For the best gianduja gelato flavor and texture, make sure to use quality baking chocolate. The cacao content should be between 30 and 40%. I recommend the following brands:
Using real hazelnuts is worth the extra work: Lots of gianduja gelato recipes take the shortcut of stirring Nutella into the gelato base. Sure, Nutella is a delicious treat, but for the real taste of toasted hazelnuts to carry through—and to enjoy the most delightful combination with milk chocolate—you must use real nuts. This is how authentic gianduja is made. Try it once and you’ll never want to have it any other way!
Hazelnuts are easy to peel: Roasting hazelnuts makes peeling them super easy. To roast and peel hazelnuts, spread them over a baking sheet and bake at 350°F (170°C) for 15 minutes, giving the tray a good shake every five minutes. When the skin of the hazelnuts is shiny and crackled, remove from the oven and transfer to a clean dish towel. Close the towel up into a bundle and rub the hazelnuts against one another vigorously to remove the skin. Open the towel and pick up the peeled hazelnuts. Some bits of skin will remain and that’s ok, simply make sure to discard all the loose papery bits. Keep the roasted hazelnuts in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use.
Look for roasted and peeled hazelnuts to save time: Some companies, such as Yupik in Canada and AZNUT in the US, sell unsalted roasted hazelnuts. These are more expensive, but a huge time saver. Nuts are expensive and using stale nuts in a dessert is such an awful waste! Make sure to buy roasted nuts from a store with a high turnover and from a company with a good reputation to make sure they are fresh.
For the Milk Chocolate Gelato Base: Measure out the milk, then scoop out 2 tbsp (30 ml) and place in a small bowl. Set aside.
Pour the remaining milk in a medium saucepan, then add the heavy cream, milk chocolate, and sugar. Set over medium heat and whisk constantly until the milk chocolate and sugar are fully melted and incorporated. Remove from the heat temporarily.
Whisk the cornstarch into the reserved milk. Pour into the saucepan and whisk to combine. Return the mixture over medium-low heat and cook, whisking constantly, for 5 minutes. (The mixture will thicken slightly.) Whisk in the hazelnut liqueur, if using.
Pour the milk chocolate gelato base into a bowl and gently place a piece of plastic wrap directly over the surface to prevent a film from forming. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate overnight. The milk chocolate gelato base must be thoroughly cool before churning: this will produce the smoothest, silkiest texture.
For the Hazelnut Butter: Using a stick blender or a mini food processor, grind the hazelnuts to a smooth butter consistency. Depending of the appliance you’re using, this can take between 3 to 5 minutes. You don’t need to add any liquid to facilitate the process, just some patience. Scrape down the container from time to time and keep grinding, you’ll get there.
Measure out the hazelnut butter to get 1/2 cup (125 ml). Store any remaining almond butter for tomorrow’s morning toast.
Whisk the hazelnut butter into the cool milk chocolate gelato base. Use a stand blender, a stick blender, or a food processor to fully combine and blend to a super smooth consistency. Strain, if desired, to remove leftover chunks, if any.
Pour the gianduja gelato custard into the bowl of an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer's instructions. Stop the machine when the gelato is thick and icy but still easily spoonable.
Transfer the gianduja gelato to an airtight container and freeze until firm, about two hours. The gelato will keep, frozen, for up to two weeks. Always take this gianduja gelato out to room temperature 15 to 20 minutes before serving to soften it and make it easier to scoop.
Did you make this?
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