What is it about iced desserts? Whether you’re 2 years old or 82, it’s hard to resist an ice cream cone. For most of us, I’m sure that frozen treats are some of our earliest, and happiest, food memories.
The only catch, as we all know, is that eating ice cream every day is not exactly good for your health. So several years ago I decided to create some recipes that would make this universally cherished dessert a bit less artery-clogging, yet just as luscious.
Instead of using the traditional tempered custard of egg yolks, sugar, and cream, I developed a lighter version with no eggs, no cream, and as little sugar as I could possibly use... and I’ve never looked back!
Now I have a repertoire of deliciously creamy gelatos that are laden neither with calories nor fat. So dig your spoon into this rhubarb gelato. It’s creamy, light, and packed with intense rhubarb flavors. The best part may just be that you can have seconds without giving it another thought!
Combine the water, rhubarb, and sugar in a medium-sized saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 5-6 minutes until the rhubarb releases its juice and the slices break apart. Stir occasionally to ensure even cooking. Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl to cool to room temperature.
Place 2 cups of milk and the vanilla bean in a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil. (Maintain constant supervision since the milk can quickly boil over without warning.) Remove from the heat.
Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk the remaining milk, sugar, and cornstarch until well combined. Add the cornstarch mixture to the hot milk and return the saucepan to the heat. As soon as the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the mixture slightly thickens, stirring constantly, about 5-6 minutes.
Remove the vanilla bean from the custard, scrape the seeds from the bean, and add to the custard. Transfer to a bowl to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, cover and refrigerate until well chilled, about 2 hours in the refrigerator or 45 minutes in the freezer.
When the gelato is well chilled, whisk in the mascarpone until well blended. Pour the custard into an ice-cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's directions. When the gelato is firm, pour the rhubarb compote in the bowl of the ice-cream maker and churn until the compote is well incorporated, about 1 minute. Transfer to a container and freeze until ready to serve.