I'm back, both figuratively and literally! I got back last week from a 2 week vacation to Europe. My friend, Ces, and I went on a Celebrity cruise to Italy, Greece, and Turkey and then stayed an extra couple of days in Rome. Being on a cruise, we definitely ate our fill, but the most memorable food I ate was all in Rome.
Before we had left for the trip, I had looked up the best gelato in Rome to make sure that we didn't waste any space in our tummies on inferior product. We tried San Crispino when we were at the Trevi Fountain and Grom near(ish) the Pantheon, but the one that blew me away was Gelateria del Teatro, in between Piazza Navona and Ponte Sant'Angelo.
I chose the Rosemary Honey and Lemon and Sicilian Almond flavors and
could not stop raving about them while we made our way to the Vatican. I
love almond flavored anything, and this was the first time that I had
tasted an ice cream that really captured the pure almond flavor without
tasting buttery or artificial. And the rosemary was an unexpected first
note that mellowed out with the honey and lemon in a way that was
completely and perfectly balanced. Ask Ces; I think I actually stopped
walking several times because I was just enjoying the gelato so much.
It was so good we went back for a second round after returning from the Vatican!
I knew I had to try to make the rosemary honey lemon flavor when I got home so I pulled out Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home and searched for a honey flavored base but didn't find one. So I tried using her ice cream base, substituted honey for the sugar, and steeped the mixture with rosemary and lemon peel before thickening it. It ended up tasting way too sweet for me, and I think the honey kept it a little softer than I would have liked. I decided to try making it again with less honey and using the frozen yogurt base to lighten it up a little and give it a little more tang. I was really pleased with this version; it's not an exact duplicate of the gelato from Rome, but I think it's just as good!
Rosemary Honey and Lemon Frozen Yogurt (based on on the Frozen Yogurt Base from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home)
makes about 1 quart
1 1/2 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup honey plus more, to taste
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
Zest from half a lemon
1 1/4 cup Greek yogurt (I used 2% low fat, but I think nonfat and regular would work fine)
Mix about 3 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. Whisk the cream cheese in a medium bowl until smooth. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
Combine the remaining milk, cream, honey, and corn syrup in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from heat, add the rosemary and lemon zest, and let steep for 20 minutes.
Remove the rosemary and zest with a slotted spoon. Taste the mixture; if it's not sweet enough, add some more honey (I ended up adding about another tablespoon). Gradually whisk in the cornstarch mixture and return the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Add the yogurt and blend well.
Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.
Pour the frozen yogurt base into the frozen canister and spin until thick and creamy.
Pack the frozen yogurt into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.
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