Experiments: Cracco and smoked gelato

Pastry chef Luca Sacchi is working on a dessert that unites rosemary smoke and fiordilatte ice cream (without melting it)

03-07-2017

Fiordilatte gelato browned by smoking rosemary. A promising experiment by Carlo Cracco and Luca Sacchi, sous chef and pastry chef at restaurant  Cracco in Milan

The only memories of smoked gelato I have go back to some ten years ago, at the restaurant of Viktor Arguinzoniz, the Basque asador who'll chargrill even your table. The chef from Etxebarri smoked a carton of milk overnight on top of a wood stove. From that he made balls of fiordilatte ice cream with a delicate and gracious aroma of smoke. He then placed it next to a grilled apple and served a delicious dessert.

A few days ago, having heard of an experiment with smoked gelato made by Luca Sacchi, sous chef and pastry chef at Cracco's in Milan I went to see what it was about.

The technique is quite different from that used at Etxebarri. Sacchi doesn't smoke the milk but the gelato itself. He makes a “normal” fiordilatte gelato from fresh, whole and powdered milk, dextrose and fresh cream. He then chills it and leaves it to set for a night in the fridge, then freezes it and creams it.

STEP ONE. Put in a copper pot (with a grill) lots of rosemary and light the fire

STEP ONE. Put in a copper pot (with a grill) lots of rosemary and light the fire

The nice part comes later. The ice cream, which at this point has a very cold (but not frozen) kernel, is served in a soup cup which is also very cold as it's been chilled. The cup is then placed on a grill, inside a copper pot on the base of which they had previously smoked a thick layer of rosemary. Kept in the pot, with the fire turned off for 1-2 minutes, the ice cream misteriously doesn't melt but absorbs the smoke and rosemary oil and acquires a dark, slightly crispy crust.

Tasting it offers a complex alternation: when he spoon meets the mouth, the smoky scent dominates, yet right after that, the fresh scent of milk prevails clearly. At the end of the tasting, the smoked rosemary is back again, and continues in the palate for many minutes (perhaps a sign that portions should be smaller?). A very promising experiment even for the opportunities it offers.

STEP TWO. Pull out the fiordilatte gelato, chilled and served in a very cold soup cup

STEP TWO. Pull out the fiordilatte gelato, chilled and served in a very cold soup cup

«We started with fiordilatte», Sacchi tells us, «because it's like risotto alla parmigiana, a white canvas on which you can experiment. But we can work with other flavours and other aromas/herbs for the smoking. We started by smoking rosemary because we know it well as we've been smoking our ravioli with it for a long time». The pot must be in copper, «it allows to spread the heat evenly on the gelato». 

The smoked gelato can be completed with some crunchy elements: fragments of manna or candied violets. Is it in the dessert menu? «No, this is still the beginning of a journey». We are curious to see where it will take. Meanwhile, here's the embryo recipe.

Smoked fiordilatte gelato with rosemary

Ingredients
for the fiordilatte gelato
1 l whole fresh milk
180 g sugar
20 g dextrose
40 g powdered milk
80 g 35% m-g fresh cream
20 g lots of rosemary

STEP THREE. Place the cups of gelato on the grill, turn off the heat and put on the lid (in the photo, Luca Sacchi)

STEP THREE. Place the cups of gelato on the grill, turn off the heat and put on the lid (in the photo, Luca Sacchi)

Method
In a pot, bring the milk to 30°C and add the powdered milk. Having reached 50°C add the sugar mixed with the dextrose and bring to 80°C, add the cream and bring to 85°C. Chill and leave to stabilise overnight in the fridge, then freeze and cream (if you have a pacojet) or cream right away.

In a previously chilled soup cup, add 3 spoons of fiordilatte gelato. Place lots of rosemary in a copper pot, place a grill on top. Put the lid on and heat over a lively flame. When the rosemary starts to brown, raise the flame for a total of 4-5 minutes. Wait for 2 minutes, open the lid and put the cup inside. Keep a minute off the stove without the lid. Cover and wait for half a minute. Remove the lid and serve immediately.
STEP FOUR. When opening the lid, the ice cream will be browned by the rosemary smoke. You can add manna or candied violets to taste

STEP FOUR. When opening the lid, the ice cream will be browned by the rosemary smoke. You can add manna or candied violets to taste


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