So remember those ice cream cupcakes I made back in July? They were a huge hit, and probably the most popular post I’ve done so far. Well last week I got an email from Carlo – he owns a chain of gelato stores here in London called Gelato Mio. He wanted to know if I’d come down to one of his stores to taste test (and make!) some of the new gelato cupcakes that he’s getting ready to launch in his shops. Kelly from an American Cupcake in London was also there to help provide feedback on the gelato cupcakes which aren’t released yet, so we were pretty lucky to get a sneak peak!
Picture courtesy of canelvr
Just in case you don’t know the difference, ice cream starts with a milk base while Italian gelato uses a water base (less fat). I’m going to warn you now – be prepared for pictured OVERLOAD!
First things first. Carlo (above) educated us on one of the most basic, yet important ingredients in ice cream making and cooking – vanilla. I’m sure we’ve all seen a vanilla bean before. You know – those long skinny black beans that come in plastic tubes? Well, Carlo showed us the difference between the mediocre grocery store vanilla bean, and the premium quality vanilla beans he uses for his ice cream and gelato.
See the vanilla bean on the left – that’s actually the higher quality vanilla bean! Yeah, it might look a little bit moldy, but that isn’t actually mold. The white fuzzy covering on the vanilla bean is called vanillian, and is an extremely pure and aromatic form of vanilla. The beans that we get in the grocery store have already had the vanillian removed from them, so it can be used to make vanilla extract. The two beans on the right, are just your run of the mill vanilla bean.
Next we got to take a look at the raw ingredients that go into making the gelato and ice cream at Gelato Mio. On the menu for the evening was pistachio ice cream and strawberry gelato. I love pistachios, but I’d only ever seen them in their original nut form. When they’re used in ice cream they need to be blended into the mixture, but you can’t do that with raw nuts, so they use a pistachio puree instead. The pistachio puree was amazing – almost like a pistachio peanut butter. Oh how I’d love to eat it in a sandwich!
We also got to make a delicious strawberry gelato using the some of the nicest, freshest strawberries I’d ever seen. Not a blemish in site!
They also make the most amazingly delicious Dark Chocolate Ice cream using THIS 5kg bar!
First up was the pistachio ice cream:
Start out with a big bucket of the milk base
Add in the pistachio puree
Blend, blend, blend!
Pour it into the magic ice cream machine
9 minutes later, and out comes the most delicious pistachio ice cream!
After all (um, I mean most) of the ice cream has made it into the metal container Carlo opened it up for us to see. And clean. And clean we did! With spoons! Cute little gelato spoons to be exact.
Next up was the strawberry gelato:
Start with a bucket of water and dump in the freshly washed strawberries.
Add in some sugar.
Yup, you know the drill. Blend some more!
Before it goes in the ice cream machine Carlo measures the sugar content of the strawberry mixture using a refractometer to make sure it’s just right.
And finally out comes fresh strawberry gelato.
Here they are – our two frozen concoctions. Pistachio ice cream and strawberry gelato. YUM!
Nothing beats the taste of freshly made pistachio ice cream!
Obviously ice cream needs to stay cold, so into the freezer it goes! And into the freezer we went too! Yeah, that’s right. Carlo made the mistake of letting us into the freezer as well. Unattended. With spoons!!!! Lots of spoons!!!
After Carlo dragged us out of the freezer we got our first look at his gelato cupcake prototypes. He’d prepared a bunch of different flavour combinations for us to try.
The first one we tried was a strawberry gelato cupcake that was constructed very similar to the way I made mine. Chocolate shell, a layer of cake, ice cream middle and a chocolate frosting top. The frozen cupcakes crusted over for a minute or two when they came out of the freezer. Carlo and his pastry chef have worked hard to come up with a few different frosting recipes that don’t harden in the freezer. This cupcake had a light pink marshmallow frosting on it. I’d never really been a fan of marshmallow frosting until I tried Gelato Mio’s version. I couldn’t stop eating it!
There’s the inside of the gelato cupcake. Vanilla cake and strawberry gelato. I have to say, it was pretty good!
Next we got to have a try and making our own gelato cupcakes. Carlo wanted to see how we (the cupcake experts) would make them, so he got everything all ready and laid out for us. We tried different amounts of cake inside, different cake flavours, different ice creams, and different frostings.
Chocolate cups! These ones were pre-made, but if you’d like to make your own you can follow my instructions here. They’re really easy!
Next we used circle cookie cutters to cut out the cake rounds, and then placed them in the cups. I tried different amounts of cake in a few, and also combined both a layer of chocolate and vanilla cake in some.
I also did a little experiment, and cut a hole in the middle of my cake (top left) and filled it with chocolate sauce to create a gooey surprise center! Then it was time to choose our ice creams and gelato that would go into the cupcakes. I choose peanut butter and dark chocolate (not pictured).
The final step to making the ice cream cupcakes really is what defines it as a cupcake. The frosting! As I mentioned before, I really fell in love with the marshmallow frosting, and Kelly and I opted to use blue for our cupcakes.
Pipe on a nice big swirl, and voilla! Add on a few sprinkles, and it looks even better.
Here’s a cross section of my chocolate filled cupcake. The chocolate just poured out. Chocolate cake, chocolate sauce, rich dark chocolate ice cream, and marshmallow frosting. I love it! I think this was probably my favourite of the evening.
Be careful though! You can’t leave these cupcakes at room temperature for long, or they’ll start to melt!
All in all, I had a really fun night with Carlo and his team at Gelato Mio. The whole gelato workshop was very educational, and I was really impressed with the quality of ingredients and the care that went into making each batch of ice cream and gelato. As I mentioned before, these ice cream cupcakes aren’t available in the Gelato Mio stores just yet as Carlo’s still got a bit of tweaking and taste testing to do. He’s hoping to launch them in the next month or two, so I can’t wait to see what the final product will look (and taste!) like. I’ll definitely be heading down to one of his 4 locations to try one.
If you’re interested in attending one of Carlo’s gelato workshops, I’m pretty sure that he runs similar ones several times a month, so if you’re interested in attending on yourself you can contact Carlo here.
Oh, and one of the best things about the night – I didn’t have to clean up!!!