Uncle Fester on a Faster Vespa (espresso-chocolate gelato, Roman style)

April 21, 2011

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes:

Didn’t you love those scenes from “Roman Holiday” where Audrey Hepburn was clinging to the back of Uncle Fester as he zipped around the narrow streets of Rome on his motorino. In that black tunic he was often mistaken for a country priest---except for the illuminated light bulb in his mouth he used to navigate. Here’s how he powered up that bulb; a lot of coffee and a lot of sugar involving a quick stop at Caffe Sant’ Eustachio. “Allora, come va?” Or else maybe I’m mixing it up with a Fellini film, communque, sotto cieli di Roma. Boh!

Special equipment; an ice cream maker (I use a Cuisinart with a 1 ½ quart capacity). - pierino


Food52 Review: Pierino has another winner! His espresso-chocolate gelato is everything a gelato should be -- rich, decadent, flavorful and not-too-sweet. I loved the addition of creme fraiche instead of the usual (in my experience) heavy cream -- it added a tangy background taste that was really sophisticated and wonderful. I doubled the chocolate (because that's just me), and added the Grand Marnier to the cooked base before chilling so that the alcohol could help keep it from getting too solid in the freezer. I also suggest straining the base through a fine mesh strainer before chilling -- it makes the gelato smooth as silk. A perfect addition to the library of ice cream recipes on food52, I highly recommend this as an Editors' Pick.drbabs

Serves: 6 to 8


  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk (none of that 2% stuff)
  • 1/2 cup strong espresso coffee
  • 1 cup crème fraiche
  • 1/4 cup Valrohna chocolate grated (or more if you like)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar divided
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
In This Recipe


  1. Brew the espresso (Fester likes to use a French press for this)
  2. Using a large bowl whisk half of the sugar into the egg yolks
  3. In a sauce pan bring milk, crème, and espresso to a simmer. Whisk in remaining sugar, grated chocolate and Grand Marnier
  4. A flame tamer is useful here, but the mixture should just began to bubble without coming to a full boil
  5. Remove from heat and into the bowl with the egg yolks gradually ladle in about ¼ of the gelato mixture at a time, whisking steadily until all of it is combined. Be sure that the espresso mixture isn’t too hot or the eggs will curdle
  6. Return the beaten up ingredients to the sauce pan over low heat, and using a wooden spoon stir constantly until it thickens to a sauce-like state. It should coat the back of the spoon
  7. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate for 5 hours or more
  8. Make gelato. For Fester that means, with the motor running, pouring in the mixture and letting it run for twenty or twenty five minutes until it reaches gelato texture. You will know when it's ready---trust me.
  9. Serve in small cups. And if you are really Addams Italiano add a scoop of another gelato flavor, say an orange based one

More Great Recipes:
Ice Cream/Frozen Desserts|Chocolate|Grand Marnier|Milk/Cream|Serves a Crowd|Make Ahead|Summer|Dessert

Reviews (12) Questions (1)

12 Reviews

pamelalee August 14, 2016
As soon as I read the title for the recipe and before clicking on it, I thought, "This sounds like a title Pierino would come up with.” :) I look forward to trying it!
Mollyh November 2, 2013
This was terrific. Will add it to the rotation. Thanks for the suggestion!
Author Comment
pierino June 10, 2011
They have a pretty good deal at Sur la Table right now on the Cuisinarts. I think they actually work better than their food processors.
fiveandspice June 9, 2011
How did I miss this? This looks delicious. I really need to get me an ice cream maker.
thirschfeld May 27, 2011
you are on a roll, this looks great.
Author Comment
pierino May 27, 2011
Thanks Brotha' T.It's pretty damn good.
Sagegreen April 21, 2011
Whatever films you may be mixing up, so glad you mixed up this recipe. Love the eggs chocolate and Grand Marnier.
Author Comment
pierino April 21, 2011
Thank you, but the creme fraiche is what pulls it all together. Now I have to make enough for twenty some people for Easter. I think of it as a cholesterol delivery system.
wssmom April 21, 2011
Uncle Fester? Wasn't he part of the Adams Family LOL! This sounds great!
Panfusine April 21, 2011
that was my first thought too!
boulangere April 21, 2011
Love your titles and headnotes! And then there's the food, yes.
hardlikearmour April 21, 2011
Espresso, chocolate, and Grand Marnier are a match made in heaven. Love this!