The very mention of Parmesan gelato might make some cringe. Don’t worry, this isn’t a dessert but rather a Parmesan cheese spread that looks like ice cream when scooped out and served on a platter to accompany fresh and dried fruits or crackers. It also makes a nice accompaniment and garnish for a green salad when scooped on the side with a small cookie scoop and served with toasted baguette slices. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar that has been reduced to a syrup glaze for a tart counterpoint of flavor.
Tightly sealed it can last in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks (if you let it) so it’s also nice to have on hand during the holidays when you might find yourself in need of last minute bites and nibbles.
When serving a smaller crowd, I like to pit whole dates, split them in half and then fill it with a mound of the creamy gelato before garnishing with a drizzle of balsamic syrup and a sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper and sometimes toasted chopped walnuts. If you’re entertaining a large bunch, scoop it into a footed dish and surround with a variety of fresh apple and pear slices and dried fruits for guests to dig in and help themselves.
For best flavor and consistency it is imperative to use the imported “true” Parmigian0-Reggiano cheese instead of domestic versions.
From “The Seasons of Parmigiano-Reggiano” by the Consortium of Parmigiano-Reggiano producers
Yield: About 3 cups
1 cup heavy cream
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced in half lengthwise
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Toasted bread slices
Apple and pear slices
Dried fruits (pitted dates, apricots)
Balsamic vinegar or honey for drizzling
Bring cream, garlic and nutmeg to a boil in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Remove garlic from the cream when it comes to a boil. Add the cheese, one-half cup at a time, stirring constantly until it is all incorporated and smooth.
Remove from the heat and pour into a storage container (the shallower the quicker it will chill and set up). Cool to room temperature and then cover and refrigerate until cheese stiffens.