Ricotta Gelato with Honey Roasted Figs & Candied Walnuts

This recipe for Ricotta Gelato with Honey Roasted Figs & Candied Walnuts is a delicious treat that you can enjoy all year round. The inspiration for this dessert came from Chef Nancy Silverton, who has been cooking professionally since her early 20s in Los Angeles. She is the author of three cookbooks and co-owner of Campanile restaurant. This gelato is easy to make but does require some time in the fridge or freezer before serving so be sure to plan ahead!

Ingredients:

* 12 ounces of ricotta cheese, whole milk or part-skim depending on your preference * ½ cup sugar * ½ teaspoon kosher salt (optional) * ¼ tsp. pure vanilla extract * zest from one lemon plus juice from half a lemon, divided into two portions and stirred together in small bowl while you are making the rest of this recipe for Ricotta Gelato with Honey Roasted Figs & Candied Walnuts ** Note that if using honey roasted figs without candied walnuts then have additional sweetener such as agave nectar/syrup to taste ***

* ½ pint fresh raspberries, blackberries or blueberries OR a combination thereof **** Pro Tip – If you don’t have a gelato machine, you can use an ice cream maker or make the custard ahead of time and freeze it to be scooped later.

* For this recipe I’m using Ricotta cheese which is usually made from whole milk but for this recipe we’re going to use part-skim ricotta because that does not require any cooking.

* To start off with your base – in order to get all of those lovely flavors into the mix nicely put some honey roasted figs and candied walnuts on top. You want about one quarter cup total of each ingredient per quart size batch so if you’re making two quarts then double the amount for both items accordingly. Then pour them overtop while the ice cream maker churns.

* Now for the milk and cheese – you’ll want to start with a one gallon container of whole milk, then measure out eight ounces of part-skim ricotta cheese which should be about two cups total (that will make up 16% fat). Pour it into your blender or food processor if that’s what you’re using first thing in the morning while it is cold from being refrigerated overnight. Then add some salt, an egg yolk and vanilla extract while the blend spins so everything mixes well together nicely.

* Next pour this mixture through a sieve into another bowl before adding sugar as needed to get the desired sweetness level you prefer because we all have different levels of sweet tooth, right?

* Add cold water to the mixture while whisking it and then transfer it into an ice cream maker. Once churned, place in a container or bowl with plastic wrap over the top and put it back in the freezer for about four hours until you’re ready to enjoy this delicious treat!

How to make sure your walnuts are delicious?

When you buy walnuts, they are sometimes still in their green hulls. These shells have a bitter taste to them and need to be removed before the nuts go into your ice cream or baked goods. Simply place the walnut on its side on a cutting board and slice down with your knife blade parallel to the shell but not touching it; do this about four times per nut. The green hull will fall off like a clump of leaves shedding from an autumn tree branch when shaken by winter winds. If some bits refuse to budge, take hold of one end of the piece that is sticking out (the part closest to where you sliced) and pull it back away from the rest of the husk: try different angles until it comes off.

Another tip is to use a food processor: grind the nuts into crumbs and then remove any bits of green hull that remain.

Although they are difficult to shell by hand, it is possible to roast shelled walnuts in the oven on low heat for about ten minutes.

It’s easy to create candied walnuts: after roasting, toss with brown sugar and salt. If you want them even sweeter, add some maple syrup or honey (or both). The sweeteners will caramelize as the nuts bake again at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until golden brown—about half an hour total cooking time depending on your batch size.