Gelato is, of course, italian ice cream. I am making gelato for this party, partially because I received a gelato machine as a gift. But we also really like it. In general, gelato is made with more whole milk and less cream than ice cream. As a result the fat content is lower (around 10 % for ice cream and 5% to 7% for gelato) In addition, the mixture is churned at a slower speed than ice cream, and has roughly 1/2 the air content. The result is a dense, flavor intensive gelato. It is also stored and served at a lower temperature, rather than frozen like ice cream. While you can certainly make an outstanding ice cream in a number of home ice cream machines, you may want to consider investing in a gelato machine. They are a bit more expensive, but the results are outstanding. The one I use is a DeLonghi GM6000 Gelato Maker with Self-Refrigerating Compressor with a self-refrigerating compressor.
(Makes 2 to 3 quarts of gelato)
6 cups of milk (whole milk is best, but reduced fats will work too)
1 cup of sugar (depending on the fruit, I generally reduce this amount. But do it to taste)
12 egg yolks beaten
3 cups of chopped strawberries.
Combine the egg yolks, 3 cups of the milk and sugar. Cook and wisk over very low heat until the mixture coats the back of the spoon. (I usually do this in a stainless steel bowl placed on top of a pan of water on a low boil. The bowl should not touch the boiling water).Remove from the heat.
In a food processor, or blender, process the strawberries until smooth. (You can also remove some of the strawberries when they are still small chunks and add them to the gelato machine or ice cream machine a few minutes before the gelato is finished)
Wisk the strawberries into the custard mixture and gradually wish in the remaining 3 cups of milk. You can chill the mixture in an ice bath or in the refrigerator. (I frequently leave it in the refrigerator over night to allow the flavors to develop). Then add the cold mixture into your gelato machine or ice cream machine and prepare as directed by the instructions for your machine.
We generally prefer the gelato right out of the machine, or perhaps left in the freezer for no more than one hour to firm up. Most recipes, especially for ice cream, say you can, perhaps should, leave it in the freezer longer, or even over night and then just remove it from the freezer shortly before you are ready to eat it. That certainly works, but I think the flavor and texture is more like real gelato in Italy if you eat it shortly after you finish making it. Have fun and enjoy.