"Hot gelato" sounds like a hot mess, but it's awesome. You might even say cool.

Gianluigi Dellaccio, the man behind local gelato company Dolci Gelati, has just rolled out gelato caldo (in English, "hot gelato") at his shop in Shaw. Dellaccio learned about the dessert while he was in Milan, Italy, training to be a gelato teacher. The idea was that something less cold would encourage people to eat gelato through the winter.

[With second location, Dolci Gelati switches from wholesale to retail]


A cup of gelato caldo from Dolci Gelati. (Becky Krystal/The Washington Post)

"Obviously, this is not the right time of year to do it," he said. Except for the fact that it happens to be perfectly suited to hot Washington summers, because even after sitting at room temperature for an extended period of time, gelato caldo won't melt.

Gialuigi Dellaccio demonstrates how to make gelato caldo. (Becky Krystal/The Washington Post) Gianluigi Dellaccio demonstrates how to make gelato caldo. (Becky Krystal/The Washington Post)

The reason is how it's made, which Dellaccio demonstrated on a recent afternoon. He started with pistachio gelato, made in a 75-year-old gelato machine that he restored himself and calls his "secret weapon." To that, he added milk, meringue powder and pistachio cream. Using a stand mixer, he whipped the ingredients together until it had achieved a mousse-like texture.

Then the fun part. With a spatula, he dolloped mounds of the gelato caldo into a metal pan. He drizzled on pistachio cream and melted chocolate, followed by a sprinkle of finely chopped pistachios. Another layer went on the same way. To further gild the lily, he covered the top in chocolate-dipped profiteroles that had been filled with more gelato caldo.

After a 20-minute rest in the minus-40-degree blast freezer, the finished dessert was ready to serve.


A tray of gelato caldo. (Becky Krystal/The Washington Post)

Dellaccio, whose career includes stints as a professional water polo player and pastry chef at Roberto Donna's late Galileo, thinks he may be the first to introduce the dessert to the area. Even though his shop's offerings already include gelato, gelato pops, gelato-filled cannoli and cones, sorbet and Italian pastries, he said he's always trying to come up with something new to get people through the door.

Dellaccio hopes to add a few more flavors to the gelato caldo rotation, such as chocolate and coffee-chocolate. He'll probably experiment with building the mounds even higher and decorating them more elaborately, too. A cup goes for $3.

Dolci Gelati, 1420 Eighth St. NW. 202-518-1287. www.dolcigelati.net.

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