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Gelato cake (without ice cream maker)

Torta gelato ricetta

Some dishes make you travel into the past, bringing back memories forgotten at the bottom of some memory drawer. Ice cream cake is a classic example of a nostalgic trip. If you read the post, you will understand why.

When I thought of sharing the recipe for this simple homemade dessert that Grandma, especially in the summer, often made, I didn’t know what story would accompany it.

Then it happens that while I am running errands with Lillo, my dog, we meet a lady who stops to say hello to Lillo and calls him brighella, which, in Bologna, is a nickname for a cute brat. Suddenly I remembered Carlo, Elsa, and Carlina, their dog.

On occasions of summer visits to these relatives of my mom’s whom I loved very much, Elsa always made gelato cake. I don’t know whether it was a recipe she gave to Grandma or vice versa. Certainly, Grandma Sara often shared her recipes with others.

The fact remains that I ate it at my house and in the old country house where Carlo was farm manager.

Before the recipe, I’ll take you to meet Carlina.
The gelato cake? A little masterpiece of home cooking.

Gelato cake recipe (without ice cream maker)

Once upon a time

The farm manager (the fattore) supervised the administration of country estates.
Often, in the absence of the master, who preferred city life to land management.

It was a different job than today. And today’s farm manager is not the farm manager it used to be. What Carlo used to do is a job that has disappeared, or rather, it has changed so much that it is something else.

Even in the second half of the twentieth century, when almost all landowners now lived permanently elsewhere, the old figure of the fattore, before disappearing, became a kind of guardian of fields and houses. Especially the latter, often old mansions, needed someone on the spot to take care of maintenance and, by his presence, prevent unwelcome visits from thieves.

My earliest memory of Carlo and Elsa, inseparable and in love, places them in a large country villa, perpetually in half-light so as not to let in heat and dust, where they lived like guardian angels.

The mansion, located in Romagna, was ancient and still surrounded by the old fortified walls that once protected the property from the onslaught of brigands who, for a long time, terrorized the people of Romagna.

It is a well-known story that a nighttime assault by the band of brigands led by Passatore prompted the Artusi family to move from Forlimpopoli, near Forlì, to Florence.

Carlo and Elsa

Until Charles was a factor, we used to visit them in June and September.

Charles was a tall, imposing, gentle, and cultured man. Elsa was endowed with a natural elegance framed by a sweetness that would have made her beautiful if she was not already beautiful.

She was small in stature and plump, blond and green-eyed, practically a fourteenth-century Madonna.

Elsa was a good woman, and knowing that I quivered to explore the house, she expressly authorized me to undertake the lonely scouting to appease my parents’ reluctance.

And although I didn’t venture to open the closed doors, it was exciting to step out of the light-filled living room and walk through the big shaded hallway, furnished with old wooden chairs, as I caressed with my eyes the heavy curtains that sealed the shuttered windows and chose which hallway to walk down.

Gelato cake recipe (without ice cream maker)


Carlo and Elsa occupied a portion of the large house; the rest was shade, closed windows, and furniture covered with old lengths of cloth that were supposed to protect them from dust and woodworms. Through the shutters, just enough light filtered in for my exploration.

But I knew that, sooner or later, I would have to deal with the courtesy of one of Carlina’s greetings.

She was the dog of Elsa, named after her dear husband, Carlo, and equally beloved.
At that time, she was already very aged but, the same, awful.
As loving to her mistress as she was snarling at me.

She was a little dog with a fawn, short-haired coat. Impossible to forget that miracle of gracefulness. Her ears were in keeping with her stocky silhouette. They were short, at the top of her head, and seemed punk. Her tail was short and upright like an antenna. Of all her teeth, just one left, at the top of her muzzle, in her upper jaw, was a yellowish fang. It came out of her mouth, giving her a fierce and funny expression.

She wore a little bell attached to her collar. On her, unfortunately, who had one hind leg shorter than the others, had an effect that was far from charming. In fact, it seemed to grotesquely scan the tempo of her lame leg, which she threw outward every few steps.
One, two, three, and, on four, there was the scamper punctuated by the bell.

Carlina, heedless of her years and her limited strength, was mischievous and obnoxious.

And every time, she did not fail to pop up suddenly from under a chair or piece of furniture, concealed by the half-light, to welcome me.

She growled at me, looking at me badly in such a terrible way that I stretched my stride.

Or, and I don’t know what was worse, as I passed, she invested me with her resentment, expressed with rude sneezes. The spitting I would receive was anything but symbolic.
Then she would turn and walk away. One, two, three, bell and kick.

When I returned to the living room, there was Elsa’s gelato cake.
And the Carlina who, with changed expression, stood among the arms of Elsa, who cuddled her, lovingly calling her my little brighella.
While I knew it was a hooligan disguised as an old lady.

Gelato cake recipe

Gelato cake

The cake has a simple process.
The flavor is fresh and never disappoints.

It is a dessert without eggs and also gluten-free.
Grandma’s version calls for more mascarpone, which I reduced and, in part, replaced with Greek yogurt and other light cheeses to make the dessert lighter without taking anything away from its taste (at least I hope).

After mixing the cheeses and powdered sugar, first with a spoon and then with an electric whisk, to make the cream softer, I add that little bit of whipped cream that Elsa and Grandma (the recipe is the same) used to put in and which I also did not eliminate.

Although, between you and me, if you prefer, you can decide not to use it.

The key to achieving the variegated effect is to put the jam in the center of the dessert. If it is too thick, stir in a couple of tablespoons of water to make it more fluid. You can also use cooked fruit and its liquid.

After making an initial layer of cream, which I spread evenly over the base of the mold, I add two tablespoons of cherry or blueberry jam to the center of the mixture for a more intense variegated effect. Then I cover with another layer of cheese cream, jam again, and finish with a final layer of cream cheese.

I store it in the freezer for a few hours, and when it is time to serve, I turn the cake upside down on the serving plate, remove the plastic wrap with which I lined the mold, and decorate the surface.

You find your way. You can use fresh edible flowers, jam, dried fruit powder, flaked coconut, and grated chocolate.

Buona cucina, Monica

Cook with me

If you love fresh desserts, I recommend saving the recipe for Lemon Tart with Blueberry Cream (HERE). The base is no-bake, the custard smells lemony, and the blueberry cream is quick and easy to make.

Of Grandma’s recipes, those lost and found, her magnificent desserts, I wrote about them in the post where you find the robiola cake (HERE).

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Gelato cake recipe

Gelato cake recipe

serves 6
List of the Ingredients

mascarpone cheese, 200
Greek yogurt, 250 g
robiola cheese, 300 g
Philadelphia cheese, 80 g
heavy cream, 50 g
powdered sugar, 120 g
blueberry or blackberry jam, 60 g


In a bowl, mix the cheeses and sugar with a spoon, then use electric whips.

Whip the heavy cream without sugar.

Add the whipped cream to the cheese cream as well.

Line a mold with plastic wrap so that it protrudes from the edges.

Pour a layer of cream about 2cm high.

In the center of the dessert, place a generous spoonful of jam or fruit coulis.
If the jam is thick, mix it with a couple of tablespoons of water.

Form another layer of cream and, in the center, place more jam.

Finish with a final layer of cream. Close with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 3 to 4 hours.

Turn out onto a serving plate, remove the plastic wrap and decorate the surface.

Remove the ice cream cake from the freezer 15-20 minutes before serving.

Summer desserts

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