It’s 1901 and Luisa Spagnoli – the daughter of a fishmonger – opens with her husband a small confectionery business in the center of Perugia. She will become one of the most eminent business persons in Italy, founder of the Perugina chocolate factory. The women’s fashion clothing brand which has her name still, after almost 90 years, represents a standard of Italian elegance in the world.
In the 1920’s, with the purpose of reducing production costs, Luisa blended some leftover chopped hazelnuts with chocolate and the famous Bacio Perugina was born. Initially, due to its knobbed shape, she rather clumsily named her delicious creation “cazzotto” meaning “punch” – as in punch in the face. Because of the instant success of the confection however, the name was changed to Bacio meaning “kiss”. Each candy was enveloped in a love note and then in silver foil like we know it today.
It’s only too obvious that an ice cream inspired by the delectable – and let me say it – romantic combination of hazelnut and chocolate has become a classic in virtually every gelateria (ice cream shop) in the country.
Gelato al bacio – kiss flavored ice cream – there cannot possibly be a better name for a gelato.
- 60 gr (2 oz) plain peeled hazelnuts, finely chopped
- 100 gr (3 oz) dark 70 % chocolate
- 2 heaped tablespoon dark cocoa powder
- 120 gr (1/2 cup) plus 1 tablespoon white sugar
- 250 ml (1 cup) whipping cream plus additional for decoration (optional)
- 200 ml (4/5 cup) full fat milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a small skillet over low heat, dry toast the hazelnuts with 1 tablespoons sugar and a pinch of salt. Keep stirring to coat the hazelnuts with the melted sugar. Continue for a few more minutes until nuts caramelize to a golden brown color, about 5 minutes. Spread them out on a non-stick surface to cool. When cooled, pulverize in a food processor or chop again to obtain a praline.
Meanwhile, heat the milk with the chocolate and sugar. Add the cocoa powder and stir to dissolve. Remove from heat, stir in cream and and vanilla and refrigerate for at least one hour. This will shorten the churning time.
Process the gelato mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. When the mixture is set, sprinkle in the praline and process until it hardens further. Keep in the freezer until ready to serve.
Serve with whipped cream and absolutely no sauce.