Gelato di Crema

Custard Ice Cream

The restaurant Diana in Bologna is justly famous for the handmade pasta from which it fashions its rigorously classic tortellini and green lasagne. No less extraordinary is its own custard ice cream, the recipe for which I have generously been given permission to publish. In a city where breathtakingly good ice cream is as common as, say, hot dogs in Times Square, this one may be the very best of all. Diana serves it with hot bitter chocolate sauce, but it is no less good plain.


  • 6 egg yolks
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups milk
  • Peel of ½ orange (outer skin with none of the white pith beneath)
  • 1 tablespoon Cointreau


  1. Put the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl and beat until the yolks become pale and form soft ribbons.
  2. Put the milk and orange peel in a saucepan, turn on the heat to medium, and bring the milk to a low simmer, but do not let it break into a boil.
  3. Add the milk to the egg yolks, pouring it in a thin stream through a strainer. Add the milk a little at a time, stopping briefly to beat it into the yolks.
  4. Add the Cointreau, stirring it in well.
  5. Transfer the mixture to a saucepan, turn on the heat to medium, and heat it, beating constantly, without letting it come to a boil.
  6. Let the custard mixture cool completely, then freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.