Chocolate Gelato

August 14th, 2008  | Category: Chocolate, Ice Cream & Sorbet

Chocolate Gelato

I have to admit that I didn’t have high hopes when I first spotted this Chocolate Gelato recipe at Saveur online. One of their weekly newsletters had this photo of Pistachio and Chocolate Gelato combo that was out of this world. Then I read the recipe and said to myself: “Milk and cocoa only? And cornstarch? Really? No “real” chocolate? No cream?”

Furious, I did what every adventurous food blogger does and started searching for other Chocolate Gelato recipes to compare, which really didn’t help. Then I said to myself: “Come on! This is Saveur! You’ve seen their test kitchen. You’ve read about its secrets. And you know an average Chocolate Gelato recipe would have never made it to their site..” I was not wrong.

I had a box of Valrhona cocoa stashed away for occasions like this, so I used that. Thickening ice cream with cornstarch instead of egg yolks yielded an ice cream just as creamy. Sure, you need to wait a bit longer for the gelato to loosen up before you dig in, but it is definitely worth the wait. I suppose the secret to a great taste is good quality cocoa, so my advice is to prepare this gelato with the highest quality cocoa you can find.

Chocolate Gelato

For the second batch, I substituted heavy cream for half of the milk and it was much better! Then I tried 1 cup whole milk and 2 cups heavy cream and it was the most delicious batch. Although I wasn’t quite sure if that could be called gelato.

Confused, I did what every smart food blogger does and typed in “gelato” at David’s search bar. In his “What is gelato?” post, he wrote “…sometimes there is no egg yolks or cream in the base”.

See? He wrote “sometimes”! There you go. I have enough confirmation to call my cream-based chocolate concoction gelato.

Needless to say, it was a hit at the brunch.

Chocolate Gelato 3

You may start churning now.


Recipe adapted from Saveur


  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • Pinch of salt


  1. Bring 2 cups of heavy cream to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat, then remove from heat.
  2. Combine 1 cup milk, sugar, cornstarch, salt and cocoa in a bowl, whisk, add to hot cream, and cook until sugar and cocoa dissolve (5-10 minutes).
  3. Set aside to let cool, then cover and refrigerate overnight.
  4. Process mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions.
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  1. 1 - Mandy on August 14th, 2008

    Your chocolate gelato looks delicious! And you captured it so well. Having just made a batch of chocolate sorbet, I hear you on the important of good cocoa(yes, I use Varlhona too!).

  2. 2 - Karolina on August 14th, 2008

    I’m so happy to see eggless gelato recipe on your blog. I have a mild egg allergy and cannot eat raw eggs so it’s perfect recipe for me…and it looks so delicious!!!

  3. 3 - Nicole on August 14th, 2008

    Looks delicious!

  4. 4 - My Sweet & Saucy on August 14th, 2008

    I love how you kept experimenting till you came up with the best combo! Looks quite yummy!

  5. 5 - Drew on August 14th, 2008

    Do ice cream makers have a different setting for gelato, or do you have to have a gelato machine?

  6. 6 - Rebecca (Foodie With Family) on August 15th, 2008

    Oh sweet mercy. That looks AMAZING! I am going to have to try that. I’m a wee bit addicted to homemade ice cream. Haven’t bought the store junk in years. I can’t wait to see what the crew thinks of this one.

  7. 7 - natalie on August 15th, 2008

    wow, this looks so good! yet another reason why i MUST get an ice cream maker!

  8. 8 - Leslie on August 15th, 2008

    That looks like might fine Gelato to me!

  9. 9 - Caitlin Morgan on August 15th, 2008

    Fellow San Franciscan here….Wow…just discovered your website through David Lebowitz’s blog feed on Facebook. Very-very nice site, and you can be sure that I will try this recipe. And I’ll revisit here too. Beautiful!

  10. 10 - Amanda on August 15th, 2008

    oh, that sounds heavenly. i need some gelato ASAP. this 100 degree heat wave is killing my appetite for everything but ice cream/gelato.

  11. 11 - Bert on August 15th, 2008

    I think if you read the tabs beside the recipes you will see that the recipes were for SIcilian gelato.
    Most Italian gelato is custard based but not as creamy as glace. With less air whipped in than standard French or American ice cream has, it’s also denser. Sicilian gelato, made with milk and cornstarch, is lighter than other gelato but still has a dense texture.

  12. 12 - Bert on August 15th, 2008

    Yours starts to look more like te Sicilian Ice cream recipe in the same article. Your results look fantastic.

  13. 13 - Jessica "Su Good Sweets" on August 15th, 2008

    I once made whole milk/cornstarch gelato from 101 Cookbooks, and it was really gummy. The best chocolate gelato I’ve made (and one of the best I’ve eaten) is the 2nd one on Traveler’s Lunchbox: (link)

    Your looks really good too. Maybe it’ll be next.

  14. 14 - brian on August 15th, 2008

    Looks super rich and YUMMY. I love Valrhona cocoa–it has such a beautiful reddish hue. Given the ratios of whole milk to cream it might be a little stretch to call this recipe a gelato, but sometimes there is no other way to get that wonderful texture than by substituting cream for milk (and gelato definition is kind of vague). Maybe the cornstarch isn’t as good as substitute for the eggs when it comes to being a thickener?

  15. 15 - Alexa on August 15th, 2008

    You take the best pictures and I love the composition in the background. I have never made gelato with cornstarch but your recipe sounds delicious.

  16. 16 - SleeplessInKL on August 15th, 2008

    aaahhh… my two main weaknesses: chocolate and ice cream! and not just any ice cream — it’s gelato! i can’t wait to try it! 😀

  17. 17 - Zeynep Seda on August 15th, 2008

    Ahhh ice cream… Unfortunately I couldn’t be able to touch my ice cream machine this year. well you can guess why ( 🙁 ) but also it’s one of those that you need to freeze the bowl and I have my fridge filled with stuffed vine leaves and cabbage leaves and yufka so there is not enough space :((((

    I’m jealous… 😛

  18. 18 - Hande on August 15th, 2008

    Cenk, you can call all your ice cream creations gelato, don’t worry!

    I don’t understand this American-based gelato vs. ice-cream controversy, here in Italy anything frozen (I am exaggerating, but you get my drift) is called gelato, it is just the Italian word for it! There are egg and cream based versions, there are milk and starch versions, and then there are only-fruit versions, but all are called gelato (and I have Italian sources behind what I am saying!). The only real difference between Italian gelato and American ice cream (which also comes in many versions) is that it is denser (less air worked in) and somewhat softer, more manageable. This is most probably traditionally rooted in the machines (or lack thereof) and the hot weather!

    These are no two different things, no need to work out the differences between them and this on-going discussion. The only reason why the ice cream, called gelato, in Italy tastes better than ice cream in US is (was) because most of the time very high quality products and little to no unnatural products, flavorings etc. are used.

    Gelato is just the Italian word for ice cream, not a different thing!

    PS: Sorry if I ranted, but I couldn’t stand the ambiguity anymore! Come to Rome and I will treat you to some gelato!

  19. 19 - Hillary on August 15th, 2008

    That looks so simple! And delicious! I love chocolate gelato.

  20. 20 - Cynthia on August 15th, 2008

    If I were a chocolate lover, I’d be in heaven gazing at this pics.

  21. 21 - Kate on August 15th, 2008

    k now i’m going all weak in the knees looking at this chocolate gelato. Could you be any meaner … just photographs !!! how about some of the real stuff !!!

  22. 22 - Miri on August 17th, 2008

    This looks so good, I’m making this later today! Wonderful photos too, thanks for sharing and for tweaking with the recipe until you were happy with the result!

  23. 23 - Cenk on August 17th, 2008

    Dear all – Many thanks for your encouraging comments!

    Drew – I believe gelato machines are different than ice cream makers since less air should be worked in, but you can also use an ice cream maker to prepare gelato. I am using my KitchenAid mixer’s ice cream attachment.

    Jessica – These look amazing. I’ll try that one next!

    Hande – Many thanks for all the useful information!! I feel much more confident right now.

  24. 24 - tangobaby on August 19th, 2008

    Oh, that looks positively dangerous. And your photos are incredible.

    Someday I will be brave and try to make my own ice cream. You are very inspiring.

  25. 25 - B5 on August 22nd, 2008

    Ma Dio che buono!
    I go directly to the kitchen and see what I have got in the fridge!
    What you mean with heavy cream? How would you call it in other languages? Is it not whipped but liquid one? Or is it like creme-fraiche? Which consistency?

  26. 26 - Kitchen Goddess on August 22nd, 2008

    Oh that looks amazing. When my ice cream maker arrives I will get churning. Your photography is amazing too! 🙂

  27. 27 - Cenk on August 22nd, 2008

    B5 – We call it “krema” in Turkish. It is not whipped.

  28. 28 - B5 on August 22nd, 2008

    I know, but unfortunately I’m not living in Turkey 🙁 and have no idea about its cream variety. And there are tons of different cream in the market here where I live which makes me chaos each time I need it. So it’s liquid creme-fraiche. Ok!
    I’ll try your recipe with my bitter bitter bitter bio cacao 🙂
    Thanks so much for quick reply!

  29. 29 - Cenk on August 22nd, 2008

    The heavy cream I use has %35 milk fat in it. Just look for one that is closer to that percentage and you’ll be fine. Liquid creme fraiche should work fine, as it has 30-40% milk fat (a bit sour though). Hope you like it.

  30. 30 - Sanjay on August 31st, 2008

    Tastes Yummy!!!!!!!!

  31. 31 - SimplePleasure on September 1st, 2008

    hi! is Valhrona a dutched process cocoa? I’ve tried making Chocolate Sorbet from Chocolate and Zuchinni’s site and I love it. I’ll probably love this recipe too! can’t wait to give it a try

  32. 32 - Cenk on September 1st, 2008

    SimplePleasure – Yes, it is dutch-processed. Hope you like it!

  33. 33 - lempeng on September 11th, 2008

    Looks delicious! and yummy 🙂

  34. 34 - Georgia Stath on February 15th, 2009

    You know how you tell yourself you are studying because you have your certification books opened in front of you? But you are really clicking on Stumble Upon to find interesting posts to read?

    Yeah well, I came across yours and had to write to tell you I enjoyed it very much. I gave it the thumbs up, so more people can come across it and enjoy it also.

  35. 35 - Cenk on February 15th, 2009

    Hi Georgia – Thanks! Glad you liked it.

  36. 36 - ahmed on June 1st, 2009

    it looks like the orignal ice creams?

  37. 37 - Ulya on November 3rd, 2009

    Wow this is a great recipe! I made it last week without using cornstarch and it turned out fantastic and we finished it in a couple of days.

    By the way, I really like your blog, and your recipes are totally reliable. Your worldwide success has also inspired me to open my own food blog. Feel free to check:


  38. 38 - nidhi on November 9th, 2009


    This looks like a brilliant recipe. I just wanted to check, is it possible to make this without an icecream maker? Pl let me know since I dont have one!


  39. 39 - Cenk on November 9th, 2009

    nidhi – Yes, it is possible. You can check out David’s post on “How to Make Ice Cream Without a Machine“.

  40. 40 - Italian desserts on March 29th, 2011

    This looks awesome. Can’t wait to try this.

  41. 41 - m on August 17th, 2011

    This is phenomenal. I love it. I’ve only made it once (cream is pretty $ by me).
    Also, try it with dark cocoa powder. I used Hershey’s.

    I carved a grid into the gelato after it finished freezing (I’m ice cream maker free, so easy to me), going all the way down to the bottom in bite size pieces. Then I covered the bites in homemade magic shell, topped with homemade toffee bits. Just stunning.

    I love you Cenk.

  42. 42 - Cenk on August 20th, 2011

    m – Glad you liked it 🙂

  43. 43 - andy on June 25th, 2012

    Hi. i’d just like to confirm that your instructions are to freeze it overnight BEFORE you process it in the machine?

  44. 44 - Cenk on July 2nd, 2012

    andy – You don’t freeze it, you just refrigerate overnight to make sure it’s very cold before churning.

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