Franny’s Toasted Almond Gelato

Somewhere along the way, I lost interest in making ice cream. I didn’t lose interest in ice cream, just making it. So if I were to have a dinner party, I might make brownies and hot fudge sauce for brownie sundaes (as I did for an upcoming episode of The Clean Plate Club), but I’d buy the ice cream at the store and that was that. I was happy. I’d been there and done that with ice cream. But then a cookbook showed up from one of my favorite restaurants in all of New York (maybe in all the land), Franny’s, and there at the back was a recipe for one of the best ice cream/gelato concoctions I’ve ever tasted: their toasted almond gelato.

Franny’s toasted almond gelato isn’t just a thing you eat for dessert, it’s a spiritual/emotional journey that begins with memories of the Good Humor toasted almond bar and ends with a trip to Italy. I knew I had to make it.

It’s a very unusual recipe for gelato (or ice cream) in that there’s no egg involved. Most of the ice creams I’ve made in the past involve creating a custard with eggs and then churning it in an ice cream maker. Here? You thicken milk and cream with Xanthan gum, the kind of ingredient you find on the side of a cereal box. What’s it doing in a cookbook that emphasizes the importance of shopping locally and seasonally?


Well, turns out Xanthan gum is a powerful thickener that allows you to highlight the clean, clear flavors of the milk and cream that you use. It totally changes the mouthfeel of the gelato, which normally coats the tongue like a custard; this one kind of sits on your tongue and melts, though–and I’ll get to this in a bit–I feel like the recipe could’ve used a little less Xanthan.

First, though, you make a praline with almonds. That means you basically cook sugar until it’s caramel, add butter, baking soda…


And, at the end, almonds. Then you pour those on to a parchment lined cookie sheet.


Once that stiffens up, you smash it up with a hammer or rolling pin and then pulverize it further in a food processor.



Then you make your gelato base by cooking the milk, cream and Xanthan gum with sugar until it’s thick.


Then you stir in almond extract and, if you can find it, almond grappa. I couldn’t find almond grappa so I just used a little more almond extract. It worked great.

Refrigerate that until it’s cold and then churn it.


Look, gelato!


You stir in your praline, freeze it up and in a few hours you have scoopable, life-changing toasted almond gelato.

Well life changing except for the fact that the texture was just a little too viscous for me. That’s a nice way of saying it reminded me–just a little bit–of snot. BUT: the flavor was killer good. Like, just as good as Franny’s good except for the missing almond grappa but really, I wouldn’t have known that was missing if I hadn’t made it myself. Everyone who had this loved it and I was the only one who kept bringing up the snot factor. So, my advice? Look at the recipe below, which is the one from the book, and maybe use a little less Xanthan gum. See what happens. My hunch is that it will still thicken up and be wonderful.

And this gelato is wonderful. It’s all gone, it’s that wonderful. I could’ve eaten the whole tub myself kind of wonderful. So spread forth, find yourself some Xanthan (they have it at Whole Foods) and be inspired to make gelato. It’s the kind of recipe that makes me excited to make ice cream again.

Recipe: Almond Praline (for the Toasted Almond Gelato)

Summary: The first half of the toasted almond gelato recipe.


  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup toasted skin-on whole almonds
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda


  1. To make the praline: line a rimmed baking sheet with a Silpat or greased parchment paper. Sprinkle a little of the sugar in the bottom of a heavy skillet and set it over medium heat. As it begins to melt and caramelize, add a little more and melt it, swirling the pan occasionally; continue until all the sugar is melted and the caramel has turned a uniform reddish brown.
  2. Turn off the heat and stir in the butter and the salt. As soon as the butter is incorporated, stir in the almonds and baking soda. Immediately scrape the mixture onto the lined baking sheet and spread into an even layer. Cool completely.
  3. Using a cleaver or a hammer (I used a rolling pin), break the cooled praline into chunks. Transfer to a food processor and pulse until corn-kernal-sized pieces form but it is not completely ground. Set aside.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 10 minute(s)

Recipe: Toasted Almond Gelato

Summary: From the Franny’s cookbook.


  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Xanthan gum
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 2/3 cups whole milk
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon almond grappa, such as Nardini


  1. To make the gelato base: in a large heavy bottomed saucepan, whisk together the sugar, Xanthan gum, and salt. Slowly whisk in the milk and cream over medium heat and cook, whisking occasionally, until the mixture thickens, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Chill the mixture until it is completely cold, either set over an ice bath or in the refrigerator. Once it is cold, whisk in the almond extract.
  2. Combine the gelato base and grappa in an ice cream machine and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Scrape into a bowl and stir in the almond praline. Serve immediately or transfer to a quart-sized freezer container for longer storage; can be frozen for up to 5 days.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Cooking time: 15 minute(s)

10 thoughts on “Franny’s Toasted Almond Gelato”

  1. Adri Barr Crocetti

    I have never used Xanthan gum, but I am terribly curious about it. I enjoy making gelato and ice cream, so this recipe is right up my alley. If I am after a lighter gelato, one without a custard base, I usually do as the Sicilians and use cornstarch as a thickener. It works surprisingly well. Also my very favorite grappa is Nardini Mandorla, and so it is with all sincerity I say it is an absolute pleasure to meet you. I drink it neat (of course) , but I also Mandorla to everything from Caffe corretto to cakes,f mixed drinks and gelati. In fact I just used it in a gelato i made earlier this month. Mandorla, like everything from Nardini, is a superior product., I am so very pleased to have found your site. I just wonder what took me so long.

  2. Liza@provenceinannarbor

    In your first picture, it looks like the praline coats the gelato, but your directions say to mix it in. Can you explain please? This sounds incredible!

  3. I haven’t used xanthan gum in ice cream, but I have used 1 tbl gelatin powder ( from grass-fed beef, and about 1/2 tbl sunflower lecithin ( that I buzz for a minute in my Vitamix with whatever base I am using (coconut milk or raw milk), raw honey, vanilla, flavor extracts (, and whatever other flavor I want. I might add 2-4 raw egg yolks in addition to the gelatin powder and lecithin to the blender as well. I refrigerate in a covered bowl overnight. I’ll usually end up with a very thick and firm pudding that takes less than 10 mins to churn in my Cuisinart ice cream maker. Ohmygosh the taste and texture are out of this world. And a little is very satisfying because of the low amount of sweetener I use (maybe 1/3 c?) and high fat. You don’t have to sacrifice your health to eat real food.

  4. instead of xantham gum, you could also use cornstarch as other gelato recipes call for. not sure about the proportions, but more common to have around the kitchen.

  5. We’ve tried Xantan in several recipes, but I’m not a big fan either. Like you I don’t like the slimy consistensy. It’s a fun product though, you can have raspberries actually float in your sparkling wine for example, instead of having a bunch in the bottom!

  6. That is a crazy ton of xanthan gum!! I have used it for smoothies and soups and had great success, no weird texture issues.
    But on this recipe i would think the 1/2 tsp is all you need

  7. marcella-not-hazan

    Could it be that it was so noticeable slimy because the alcohol was missing? I suggest this as the other day I made a banana cream pie with a cornstarch-and-egg thickened custard and at the very last minute I added a splash of rum, which was not called for: the custard did not set as it was supposed to do. So it might be, in your case, that the amount of gum required was right IF you used the grappa as well, and quite simple too much for a version without grappa…? I read somewhere that alcohol impacts on how things set or freeze… just my two cents!

  8. This looks great, and I just used my KitchenAid ice cream attachment for the first time this week. I made MAPLE BACON ICE CREAM! That was the first ice cream I ever made. I followed Melissa Clark’s recipe for Maple Walnut ice cream and just substituted bacon for the walnuts. I used 6 strips of thick-cut applewood smoked bacon, cut in half lengthwise and then crosswise into 3/8″ pieces. Then I cooked the bacon slowly over low heat (to render out most of the fat. No one wants to bite into a piece of slimy fat when you are eating ice cream) in a cast iron skillet. It took about 30 minutes to get brown and reasonably crispy. Drained on paper towels and cooled, it made about 1/2 cup of bacon bits. Next time I may use 8 or 9 strips instead of 6. I’m gonna try this gelato next.

Let's dish!

Scroll to Top