Italy’s gelato rivals plain ice cream for its bright colors, its incredible smoothness and its clean, clear, sparkling flavor! It takes its place in the chilled dessert family of ice creams, sherbets, sorbets, glaces, granitas, Italian ices, frozen custards and frozen yogurts.
Gelato is made from egg yolks, milk, water, or soy milk, some sugar plus fresh fruit, chocolate, nuts, small candies, sweets or specially crumbled cookies. Well-made gelato has more egg yolks, more milk, less cream than supermarket ice cream. This makes the gelato twice as heavy as ice cream and creamier.
Differences between ice cream and gelato:
- Gelato is churned at a lower speed and has less air included into it.
- Gelato is stored at a warmer temperature making it seem creamier.
- Gelato contains less fat making flavoring more intense.
- Gelato contains less calories.
Almost an endless combination of flavors are possible. In the vanilla grouping, there’s at least nine variations. Basic Italian flavors are tiramisu, tortoni and mascarpone. Chocolate appears in at least 26 blends of Netherlands, Venezuelan and Belgian cocoas; coffee weighs in with at least 12 varieties. Chunkiness happens with nuts, coconut, crushed cookies, lavender buds, peanutbutter, fresh ground ginger, all berries, malt, spices and red bean. Fresh fruits run the gambit from cherries to lemon buttermilk, mixed berry to apricot, fig, even fresh green apple. Liqueurs flavorings include brandy, Kahlua, cognac, Bourbon, anisette, oatmeal stout, crème de menthe, prune Armagnac, dark chocolate brandy, Bourbon caramel ginger snap and more. Holiday versions contain eggnog, mincemeat, peppermint candy, spiced Venezuelan Chocolate and Irish cream. Some non-dairy flavors are green tea and chai.
The beginning of gelato in Europe goes back to the Arabs, who brought the idea of frozen, flavored water to Italy. Later, using dairy products, Italian iced cream was developed by a Sicilian monk. At first, it was available only to the elite. Later Catherine de Medici carried word of the dessert and the recipe to France when she married Enrico the Duc d’Orleans in the mid 1500s. The French tended to prefer fancy ices, however the Italians kept perfecting their gelato, and today Sicilian gelato is regarded as the best worldwide.
Some feel it’s useless to try to make gelato in a standard ice cream maker for the reasons given above. However, gelato makers are more expensive:
Foodsites with gelato recipes: