‘Stracciatella‘ is an Italian culinary term roughly approximating to ‘little shreds.’ The original stracciatella is a soup in which an egg mixture is drizzled into a hot broth, which cooks on contact with the heat to create strands of cooked egg that break up on stirring.
The dessert version of stracciatella works in the opposite manner to the soup. Here, molten chocolate is drizzled on almost-frozen, churning gelato. The chocolate solidifies on contact with the cold, and then breaks up as it is spun around, distributing tiny shards of chocolate throughout the gelato. The preparation was invented at Ristorante La Marianna in Bergamo near Lake Como in Northern Italy in 1961, and was named after the original soup.
The recipe we have provided here is the result of quite a bit of research on gelato. The base gelato is from Sofia of London street food outlet Nonna’s Gelato. Gelato uses no eggs, and is made almost entirely from whole milk. Milk solids are added to reduce the potential for icing. This preparation is nothing like the custard-based, traditional ice cream, and is a major point of confusion in some American-derived recipes for gelato. Ignore the Americans – the Italians are the only reliable source on the manufacture of this stuff.
The chocolate flavouring comes from Serious Eats where they advocate addition of coconut oil to the chocolate to reduce the melting temperature of the final product when eaten. This softens the chocolate shards and creates a better mouth feel.
Finally, we disregarded all chocolate addition methods in favour of the tradition drizzle that echoes the parent soup. A very small hole in the bag is critical.
Ristorante La Marianna can be found at Largo Colle Aperto, 4, 24129 Bergamo, Italy. Call +39 035 247997 for a reservation.
- For the basic gelato:
- 650ml whole milk
- 120ml double cream
- 180g caster sugar
- 45g skimmed milk powder
- 1 teaspoon cornflour
- For the flavouring (see notes):
- 50g 75% cocoa solid chocolate
- 10g coconut oil
To make the basic gelato:
Place the milk and cream in a saucepan over a medium heat. While it’s warming, place the sugar, skimmed milk powder and cornflour in a measuring jug and mix well. When the milk reaches 40ºC, add the dry ingredients. Whisk together and stir continuously until it reaches 85ºC.
Plunge the saucepan into an ice bath and stir occasionally. You are aiming to drop the temperature to 10ºC within 30 minutes. When the mix is cooled, scrape into in a sealed container and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
Once fully chilled, strain the mix through a fine sieve to remove any solids and blitz with a hand blender. Pour into an ice cream machine and churn until nearly frozen.
To add the flavouring:
While the gelato is churning, melt the chocolate with the oil in a bain marie and pour into a plastic bag. Seal and stand in some warm water until the gelato is ready to take the flavouring. When the gelato is nearly frozen, cut a tiny hole in the corner of the chocolate bag and slowly drizzle it into the churning ice. It will solidify on contact and distribute itself in shards throughout the gelato.
Box and freeze.
You are well advised to make twice as much flavouring as the recipe states. This is because there is a lot of material loss in transferring the mixture to the bag and then piping it out. It is better to have too much and know when to stop adding, than too little and having to scramble to make more. Use the photo on this page as a guide as to how much chocolate ought to be in your stracciatella.