Makes about 1 quart or 8 servings (about 1/2-cup each)
1 cup hazelnuts (filberts)
21/4 cups whole milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
4 large egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
Dash of salt
2 ounces unsweetened
chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon hazelnut liqueur 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 chocolate-hazelnut bar (3 to 4 ounces) chopped in small pieces and chilled
1. Toast the hazelnuts on a baking pan until light brown and fragrant, about 10 minutes at 325 degrees. Rub nuts in a towel to remove skin. When cool, coarsely chop the nuts.
2. In a heavy saucepan, mix the milk and cream. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stir in the nuts; remove from heat. Cover. Let stand 30 minutes to develop flavor. Strain to remove nuts. Return hazelnut milk to the pan.
3. In a large bowl, whisk the yolks, sugar and salt until well blended. Whisk in 1 cup of the warm hazelnut milk. Whisk the warm yolk mixture into the remaining hazelnut milk in the pan. Cook on medium-low heat, stirring, until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon (170 to 175 degrees) Do not let boil or yolks will curdle.
4. Strain the custard into a clean bowl. Add the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Stir in the liqueur. Refrigerate, covered, until very cold, at least 6 hours.
5. Stir in the vanilla. Pour the custard into an ice cream freezer canister and process as manufacturer directs. Add the cold chocolate chunks and process 1 minute more.
6. Transfer the gelato to a covered container and freeze until it is firm enough to scoop, at least 3 hours.