May 15, 2008

Dulce de Leche Gelato-Helado de Dulce de Leche


(Does gelato like this really even need an introduction?)

Perhaps you’ve heard that Argentinians speak Spanish with an Italian accent-that’s true, and they’re also loud and passionate (even when discussing something unimportant), and gesture a lot.  But Argentineans also eat with an Italian accent! 

In Argentina, helado (ice cream) is more like Italy’s gelato-softer and creamier than American ice cream, and with typical flavors like chocolate hazelnut, dulce de leche, and sambayon (which is the Spanish spelling of zabaione) custard-flavored gelato typically served with fruit.  Some of the more uncommon flavors include malbec (made from the wine), watermelon, or coconut.  Truly, it’s almost divine.

I had the luck of finding what I personally believe might just be the best helado in Argentina on our last trip.  (Of course, I haven’t had the chance to do a formal evaluation, touring all the heladerias in Argentina…yet.)

I felt like Elizabeth Gilbert in her book Eat, Pray, Love in which she samples the gelato of one particular shop several times in one day just to make sure it’s as good as she thinks it is.  I’m here to say: it is-I know because I did the same thing!

Like the Italians in Gilbert’s book, Argentinians are "…masters at the beauty of doing nothing"  (And that’s a compliment, by the way.  As she goes on to say, Americans are list-makers, multitaskers, work too hard and burn ourselves out-we have a hard time slowing down, relaxing (and giving ourselves permission to relax!)  In Argentina, relaxing is part of life.  They work hard, but also enjoy taking their kids out for ice cream on a Friday night, sitting there and chatting for a couple of hours with friends and letting the kids entertain themselves.  You know, relaxing.


Oh, and that heladeria…it really is the best-Rafael Rodriguez and his family have been making helado in Argentina for three generations.  I was lucky enough to see how the ice cream is made (in small batches daily) and how they have elevated making helado  to a true art form.

I promise to write all about that on a day very soon, but today, you get this delicious recipe inspired by my visit to his shop-the ideal way to celebrate summer being around the corner.  I promise it won’t disappoint-and it’s very quick and easy.

                                   Receta para Helado de Dulce de Leche

                                       Recipe for Dulce de Leche Gelato

For this recipe, there’s the gelato base, and then there’s dulce de leche, which is just folded into the finished gelato or drizzled over the top (like in the picture).

Gelato base:

3 cups milk

1 and 1/2 cup heavy cream

4 eggs,  yolks only

1/2 cup vanilla sugar* if available

1/2 cup sugar

In a saucepan, mix the milk and cream and heat over medium heat until bubbles form around the edges.  Remove from heat.  Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugars together until the sugars are incorporated and the mixture is frothy.  Slowly add the warm milk to the sugar mixture, whisking continuously.

Return the mixture to the saucepan and heat over medium heat and stirring with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of the spoon.  If the egg starts to get lumpy-the heat is too hot!  Remove from heat immediately.

Strain the mixture through a fine strainer or sieve into a bowl.  Cover and put in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.  Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  Transfer to a sealed container and freeze until firm-if it gets too hard, bring it down to the fridge to soften.

To add the dulce de leche, put one layer (several scoops) of the gelato base and a layer of dulce de leche on top.  Put another layer of of the gelato base and mix together by making a figure 8 pattern with a spatula.  Alternatively, drizzle the dulce de leche over the top.  For my previous post on dulce de leche, click here.

*Vanilla sugar is sugar (about 4 cups) that has had a whole vanilla bean immersed in it for two to three weeks.  (in a sealed container) The sugar then takes on a vanilla flavor, and can be used for many desserts.

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14 Responses to “Dulce de Leche Gelato-Helado de Dulce de Leche”

  1. 😀 here i am a classic italian woman..but it’s not so true that doing nothing is an art in italy..i work 18 hours a day as wedding planner and believe there not much time to sit down and do nothing..:-D but i speak with hands..and yes I’m passionate and istinctive. i’m a thunder!
    Thanks for the post is really tasty..and I adore dulce de leche
    a big kiss

  2. This looks amazing! Fascinating post, too.

  3. That looks incredible! I can’t wait to go to Argentina and explore the country–and the food–myself!

  4. A great excuse for my husband to make another batch of your dulce de leche!

  5. The more and more I read of your reports on Argentina and the Argentinian lifestyle, the more I want to visit! I think I would feel right at home there. And as for the gelato AND dulce de leche? YUM! This would go perfect with the brownies I just made.

  6. Hmmm Argentinian helados. Thatmust be the most delicious ice cream I’ve ever had. I wanna go with you in your tour of all the heladerias in La Argentina. That will be an adventure. Hehehe.

  7. My husband will go crazy over this :) We had ice-cream at one of the small little shop and they had like 20 flavors there. It was yummy.

  8. What gorgeous ice cream, I want to visit Argentina now, like right now :)

  9. Great blog Rebecca! You are tempting me to cheat on my Atkins diet with all these delicious looking desserts! So, when do we get to come over and taste some of this good stuff?

  10. Sylvia-Thanks! Don’t work too hard-you have to make time for gelato!
    Jen-thanks! You must try it!
    Emiglia-And I can’t wait to hear all about it when you do!
    Lydia-neither of you will be sorry-yum!
    Sandie-I bet it would-and you must see for yourself someday.
    Gertrude-I bet he’ll love it-tell me how it turns out!
    George-Yes-and take me with you!
    Jane (and Matt!) We ahve to make a date!

  11. How can anyone dislikes this or Dulce de Leche?

  12. What a mouth watering picture!

  13. Gorgeous.

  14. I love gelato, but it is difficult to find a shop that makes it in my small town in S.C. so, I have to make it myself when I get a craving. I appreciate all of the recipes I can get my hands on. Check out this “cool” article about gelato at

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