Grapefruit is one of my absolute favorite flavors of gelato. Even though I lived in Italy for three years and ate gelato everywhere I went, I could only find this flavor in one small place—and that place only made it twice. Twice! And once I returned to the U.S., forget about it! So unfair!
But I finally stopped pouting and began to play around until I got a version that comes pretty close to the real thing. To make this gelato, you’ll need an ice cream or gelato maker; however, if you don’t have one, there are variations listed in the Don’t Freak Out! section which will be just as tasty.
1-1/2 cups milk
½ cup heavy cream
3 egg yolks
½ cup sugar
2 TBS lemon juice (about ½ a lemon)
¾ cup ruby red grapefruit juice (see note in the Don’t Freak Out! section)
Zest of one lemon
Pinch of salt
In a heavy saucepan, add the milk and cream. Heat on low for about 5 minutes or just until little bubbles form around the edge of the milk. Remove the milk from the heat.
While the milk is heating, add the egg yolks into a large bowl. Beat the egg yolks with a mixer on the lowest speed (this incorporates the least amount of air into the mixture). Slowly add in the sugar and continue beating on low until well combined and the mixture is thickened (like pudding).
Switch to a whisk to temper the eggs (slowly bringing the egg yolks up to the same temperature as the warm milk). Slowly whisk in ¼ cup of the warm milk into the egg mixture. Whisk in another ¼ cup of the warm milk. Repeat two more times. Add the tempered eggs to the remaining milk in the saucepan. Return the pan to the stove and heat on low, stirring frequently but not vigorously. Cook for about 5-7 minutes or until the mixture is slightly thickened and holds its shape on the back of a spoon: Dip a spoon into the custard and run your finger through it leaving a line. If the custard stays in place on either side of the line and does not run, then the custard is ready.
If the custard starts to separate, you’ve overcooked it or cooked it at too high a temperature and will have to begin again.
Remove the custard from the heat. Cool for five minutes. Slowly whisk in the lemon and grapefruit juices. To remove any bits of egg that may have cooked, strain the mixture into a bowl or into a one quart measuring cup for easy pouring later. Stir in the lemon zest and salt.
Place a piece of cling film directly onto the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours up to overnight; I prefer overnight because the flavors marry and the custard
thickens. Ten minutes before making the gelato, place the custard and optionally, the paddle to your ice cream maker into the freezer. However, don't keep the custard or the paddle in the freezer for any longer than ten minutes (you want the custard to still be easy to pour and you certainly do not want to damage a part of your machine).
Remove the custard (and paddle if you’ve frozen it) from the freezer and add to your ice cream maker. Follow your ice cream maker’s instructions (my machine takes about 15-20 minutes).
Put the gelato into a freezer-safe container. Unless you actually have a machine specifically designed for making gelato, the result will probably be like soft-serve ice cream, but it will become harder the longer you freeze it.
Freeze the gelato for about 4 hours. Remove the gelato from the freezer 10 - 15 minutes before serving for a creamier consistency. Serve.
Makes one quart.
Don’t Freak Out!
1) I prefer using 100% ruby red grapefruit juice from a carton over fresh-squeezed because I get more consistent, slightly sweeter results. Avoid the grapefruit juice in a can, however, because it tastes tinny.
2) If you’re using fresh grapefruits, don’t use the zest. In the grapefruits I’ve bought, the zest is often quite bitter which affects the final product. Lemon zest, however, brightens the flavor.
3) You can use other grapefruit juice besides the ruby red but I’d add an additional 1/8 cup of sugar when making the custard.
4) If you don’t have an ice cream or gelato maker, how about making ice pops? You can find popsicle molds in the kitchen section of your local supermarket or department store or on-line. Opt for metallic molds over plastic; they cost a little more but they’re sturdier, easier to unmold, and probably won’t break apart into plastic shards that contaminate the gelato and cut your hands. Trust me on this—that was not a happy day!
Or, make pops the way we did as kids. Fill small paper cups 2/3 full with the gelato mixture; place them into the freezer; and after about half an hour, insert popsicle sticks into each cup and return to the freezer until the pops are frozen. Peel away the paper cup and enjoy. You could also fill a clean ice cube tray with the gelato mixture, cover with cling film, poke holes above each cube, insert the sticks, and freeze until firm.
5) Serve the gelato with fresh grapefruit slices or fresh mint. It’d be delicious with crumbled tea biscuits, lemon cookies, or lemon biscotti. You could also use the gelato to make a creamy grapefruit version of a mojito or mix a scoop with limoncello or top with champagne or Prosecco. Or fill an ice cube tray with the mixture—don’t bother with the cling film or popsicle sticks—freeze and float the gelato cubes in a tropical punch.
6) When you separate the egg yolks, don't throw out the egg whites. They can be frozen for up to six months--just defrost them in the refrigerator and use for omelettes, meringues, frosting, or pavlova (like my Black Forest Black Swan pavlova recipe).