La vita doesn’t get any more dolce than gelato. Everyone who knows me understands that I LOVE gelato…Italy’s version of ice cream. If I had it my way I would have gelato for breakfast, lunch, AND dinner. In Sicily, this is actually possible. Hooray! During the warm months in Sicily, people eat gelato for breakfast…yes, really! Sicilians eat brioche with gelato…normally two flavors of smooth and creamy gelato nestled in a soft, eggy bun. Sicily’s version of a breakfast (ice cream) sandwich. Genius…gelato for breakfast! In my world, it doesn’t get any better than that!
So, gelato is just the Italian word for ice cream, right? Actually, this is not the case. They are in fact quite different. Gelato is much denser than ice cream as it is churned at a much slower rate which incorporates less air. Gelato uses more milk than cream as opposed to ice cream and because it uses less cream it has a lower percentage of fat which allows the main flavor ingredient to really shine through. Gelato is also served at a warmer temperature so the texture is softer and silky smooth.
Gelato makes the perfect accompaniment to a soft buttery and slightly sweet brioche bun. You can even ask for three scoops if you are feeling crazy ;).
When I first heard about brioche with gelato, I was living in Rome. Since I love everything gelato, I was super excited to try it. So, one morning as I was heading home from the local market, I decided I wanted to give it a try. I went to my favorite local gelateria and instead of asking for my normal two scoops of gelato in a cone, I excitedly ordered a brioche with gelato. The barman said, “brioche? Ahhh, you mean cornetto?” I said, “Oh, yes, cornetto” (realizing the name for brioche in Rome is cornetto although they are not exactly the same). Then he asked what gelato flavors I wanted. “Pistachio and hazelnut”, I said with anticipation. A couple of minutes later I was given a bowl of gelato and a cornetto (or croissant). Confused, I said no I want a brioche with the gelato inside…like in Sicily. He started to laugh and said no Sicilian brioche here…we’re in Rome! I ate it, with a few good laughs from the barman and other people in the shop. It was good (not as good as with the true Italian brioche as I have come to find out). So, moral of the story, if you want to eat a Sicilian style brioche with gelato…either find a Sicilian gelateria, take a trip to Sicily (the clear winner) or make it at home.
If you want to make the brioche buns at at home, you can use this easy brioche recipe that is from the blog mangiabenepasta – http://www.mangiabenepasta.com. Any left over buns can be eaten with a slather of nutella or a smear of butter and honey or even on its own with a cup of espresso or cappuccino. Delicious!
- 1 package active dry yeast
- ½ cup (120 mL) warm milk (between 105 to 115 F)
- 3 Tablespoons (37.5 grams) granulated sugar
- 6 eggs
- 4½ cups (562.5 grams)
- 2 teaspoons (10 grams) salt
- 1 cup (226.8 grams9 unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 egg, beaten with 1 Tablespoon water
- Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk with 1 tablespoon of sugar.
- Let the mixtures sit for approximately 10 minutes or until the mixture begins to bubble.
- Crack the eggs into a large bowl and lightly beat them.
- Add the all of flour, remaining sugar, and salt. Mix to combine.
- Next, add the dissolved yeast mixture and combine well.
- Add the butter, about 3 tablespoons (42.5 grams)at a time, and mix until a smooth dough is formed. Grease another large bowl and place the dough in it. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow it to rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead lightly to form a smooth dough.
- Break off small pieces (about golf-ball size) of the dough, and roll into a ball shape.
- Place the dough balls on baking sheets.
- Only put 6 to 8 pieces on each sheet so they have room to expand.
- Cover the rolls with clean kitchen towels and let rise for 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 C).
- Brush each roll with some of the egg wash.
- Bake about 20 minutes or until lightly golden brown.
- Split each roll and add your favorite gelato or ice cream..