Torroncino Ice-Cream

Aaahhhh nuts, what to do with all that leftover torrone from Christmas?

When too much nougat is never enough … make gelato.  Let’s face it, you’re probably just a wee bit tired after all the Christmas preparations, celebrations and indulgence, right?  Yes, it’s easier just to eat the nougat, au naturel, but it’s more fun to have ice-cream.   Yeah, you know it 😀

Especially if you need some cheering up after massive thunderstorms, lightning, and hailstones raining down like Armageddon on Christmas Day.  That includes everyone in Melbourne this year, plus a good section of regional Victoria.   Today has been a massive clean up operation for homes, cars, and gardens damaged by the storms yesterday.  Not to mention the roads being turned into veritable rivers and pools for those of us travelling to and from our Christmas festivities.  Ah, summer in Melbourne.  Hot, humid, and altogether sultry, followed by storm chaos.  Four seasons in one day.   The sun has only just come out this afternoon, which is why the photos are a tad ugh … it was rather dark when I made this fabulous confection.  But don’t let that put you off …

Torroncino ice-cream is one of my favourites.  Right up there with chocolate.  Oh yes.  Add a little bitter almond for punch, a little Amaretto liqueur for the oooooh factor and … ladies and gentleman, you have yourselves one downright scrumptious, delectable gelato to indulge your senses.

Serve this ice-cream on its own, with some almond wafers, with a drizzle of a rich chocolate ganache glaze, or another shot of Amaretto.  It also makes a lovely filling for leftover panettone or pandoro.

Simple and quick to make, in a semifreddo style with no churning, this gelato has a lovely light texture despite the richness of the nougat.  It stays beautifully soft and creamy so you can serve it straight from the freezer and is amazing scooped on to waffle cones, if that’s your thing.

Too much torrone is never ever enough … so whether you’ve weathered storms or are just totally zonked after Christmas Day, share some gelato and chill.  Enjoy!

Serves 6  /  Makes 850 grams

100 grams crunchy almond torrone (e.g. Flamigni torrone friabile)
15 grams bitter almonds*   OR   1/8 teaspoon bitter almond extract
125 grams sugar
35 millilitres water
4 egg yolks
2 egg whites
500 millilitres cream (35% fat), chilled
25 millilitres Amaretto di Saronno liqueur
* Bitter almonds are available at specialty nut grocers and some Italian delicatessens.  If you cannot find them, substitute a little bitter almond extract or essence.  The purpose of this is just to intensify and accentuate the flavour of the nougat.

Chop the torrone into chunks and place into the bowl of a food processor with the bitter almonds.  Process until somewhere between coarse and finely ground.  You don’t want a powder but you do want the nougat pieces to be even and the almonds to be chopped finely.  Set aside.

Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan over a low-medium heat.  Let the sugar dissolve and bring to the boil.  Do not stir.  Place the egg whites in a bowl nearby.  Have the egg yolks ready in a separate bowl.

When the syrup has begun to boil watch it carefully.  Insert the candy thermometer in the syrup and wait until it reaches 115℃.  As you do this, beat the egg whites until they reach soft peak stage only.  When the syrup is ready, pour half of it in a thin and steady stream into the egg whites, as you continue to beat them on high-speed.  Set the remaining syrup aside, off the heat for now.  Continue beating the egg whites until they are glossy.  Set the meringue aside.

Return the syrup to the heat if required, just to melt it a little (it may start to set if it cools too quickly).  Beat the egg yolks.  Pour the remaining syrup into the egg yolks in a thin steady stream as you beat them on high-speed.  Continue beating until the egg yolk mixture is light and tripled in volume.

Make sure the cream is chilled.  Do not use heavy (double) cream for this recipe.  The soft gelato consistency is dependent on using cream that is about 35% fat.  Ordinary thickened cream is fine for this recipe.  Place the cream in a large bowl.  Whisk until thickened slightly and the cream forms soft peaks.  Do not over-whisk the cream.  Gently fold the crushed torrone and Amaretto liqueur into the cream, using the whisk.

Gently fold the egg yolk mixture into the cream.  While you can be a little heavy-handed, you still want to keep the lightness of all that air we’ve beaten into the eggs.  Finally, gently fold in the meringue until no streaks remain.

Place into an airtight container and freeze until ready to serve.

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