When I happened upon veganjoy's recent post on vegan gelato, I bookmarked the page without hesitation. The peanut butter variation of Joy's basic recipe really caught my eye, sucker that I am for all things nutty and sweet. This being the heart of summer, it was only a matter of time before I could clear adequate freezer space in which to chill my ice cream maker bowl and commence with gelato-churning bliss.
Burro di arachidi (peanut butter) sounds like a fine flavor for a creamy, frozen confection. But during my pre-vegan days, I adored gelato di cioccolato e nocciole (chocolate hazelnut gelato), eating copious amounts of the stuff at the many gelato outposts in Vienna, which in turn only reaffirmed my love for both treat and city. Since becoming vegan, I have passed woefully by many a gelateria, disappointed by being limited to fruity sorbets (which do suffice, on occasion) and hoping that one day, I might be able to once again enjoy my favorite frozen Italian confection without it being laden with animal derivatives. Now, with a promising nut butter-laced vegan gelato recipe in my sights, I could not resist the opportunity to recreate that classic, aforementioned flavor combination.
I followed Joy's Burro di Arachidi Gelato guidelines, but swapped the peanut butter with homemade hazelnut butter (simply roasted hazelnuts ground into a paste) and used a scant two-thirds cup agave nectar instead of sugar. I also added somewhere between one or two ounces of melted dark chocolate (not too much, so as not to overpower the hazelnut) and a half-teaspoon of almond extract (just enough to amplify the nuttiness) to the pre-churned mixture. A few minutes before removing the mixture from the ice cream maker, I threw in a handful of toasted, roughly chopped hazelnuts and allowed them to just become incorporated into the newly-churned, semi-frozen gelato.