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Stracciatella: Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Without the Bite

On a recent vacation to Ithaca, New York, I sampled some of the flavors at Purity Ice Cream, a local parlor that has been serving scoops since 1936. Normally I'm pretty decisive when it comes to placing my order, but this time, as the line snaked forward and my turn approached, I found myself at an unexpected loss. There were so many flavors and add-ins—a dizzying array of ripples and swirls, chips and chunks as far as the eye could see. One kind even involved tiny chocolate cows!

In the end I settled on the appropriately named Finger Lakes Tourist, which consisted of chocolate ice cream studded with white chocolate chunks and toasted hazelnuts. It was delicious, but as I savored my cone I found myself wondering: whatever happened to the original, most basic form of chocolate chip ice cream?

In Italian, stracciatella literally means "torn apart." The eponymous gelato flavor is chocolate chip ice cream in its purest form: vanilla with fine chocolate shavings. The shavings melt in your mouth along with the ice cream, resulting in a very smooth taste unlike that of American chocolate chip ice creams, which often involve pieces of chocolate the size of small coins.

In an effort to make a homemade version of stracciatella in my trusty Cuisinart ICE-20 Ice Cream Maker, I turned to award-winning cookbook author and chocolate master Nick Malgieri. At first, I was a little apprehensive about his recipe because it involved no egg yolks—in my experience, yolk-omission often leads to ice cream with an inferior flaky (as opposed to silky) mouthfeel—but I trust Nick, so I muscled on. According to his recipe, the trick to achieving chocolate shavings is to drizzle melted chocolate mixed with a little bit of oil into the gelato as it freezes. In theory, the chocolate will freeze in little bits as it hits the cold mixture.

I don't know if I was drizzling too fast, or if I should have used a smaller spoon, but my chocolate ended up freezing as large ribbons. The ribbons then broke apart as they churned, creating chocolate chunks of various shapes and sizes. The resulting gelato was undeniably delicious, but it lacked the smooth, integrated vanilla-chocolate texture I was going for.

Ah well—there are far worse things in life than slightly too chunky gelato!

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