Few standalone desserts compare to that of the sweet, creamy, chilly goodness that is ice cream. But “ice-cream” is also a catch-all term for any cold dessert, and can include such delicious treats like sherbet, sorbet and the less common granita. In this blog we will be focusing on the favoured Italian confectionary, the gelato.
What most people don’t realise is that there is a plethora of different types of frozen confectioneries. Sherbets are made with fruit juices and cream, and sorbets with fruit juice and sugar, and then there is the granita. What is a granita, you ask? Well, a granita is made from fruit juice and sugar, frozen on a tray and then scraped with a fork, leaving a very rough consistency. Sorbets and sherbets on the other hand are continually mixed and enveloped, leaving a more even, smoother consistency, that akin to ice cream.
And then, of course, there’s all sorts of in-betweens such as popsicles and flavoured shaved ice.
Refreshing coffee flavoured granita
Ice cream is made predominantly from a combination of water, cream, milk and sugar. The secret to making good ice cream is by continuously emulsifying the components, ensuring a consistency that is smooth and robust in texture. This is usually achieved by mixing the components continuously under the right temperature, ensuring that the ice crystals which form are kept to their smallest possible size.
The cream component of the ice cream give it that necessary fat, and the more fat is used, the lighter the ice cream feels. A key component of ice cream is its high fat content, giving it that luxurious creamy texture.
When you start churning ice cream, it starts to emulsify and produce a thicker consistency, fluffy to the touch. This is because air is beaten into the emulsion and starts to form an aerated texture. The fluffier the ice cream, the better the texture and taste.
The sugar components, usually from syrup, also play an integral part in making sure that the ice crystals are kept to a minimum size. Sugar is made up of components that stop the ice crystals from taking shape, so the more sugar you use, i.e., the sweeter the ice cream, the smoother its texture.
A delectable scoop of chocolate ice-cream
Gelato, which has its origins in Italy, is a type of frozen confectionery that has often been confused with ice cream. Gelato is traditionally prepared in a similar method to ice cream, with a few differences. When you taste a gelato, it feels significantly different to that of ice cream – it almost just feels… better, smoother, more luxurious. In taste and texture.
One great distinction between gelato and ice cream is that the fat content in gelato is much, much lower. Ice creams have a much lighter feel, and it’s mostly because of the amount of fat used in it. Therefore, gelato is actually slightly healthier compared to ice cream, but of course, all rich foods should be taken in moderation. Gelato is made with a higher milk content, and lower cream content, making it heavier, and, as some would say, better for you.
Gelato is also churned at a lower speed compared to ice cream. This process of slower churning beats less air into the emulsion, therefore, the more expensive a gelato, the slower it is churned. The reason you want a slow-churned gelato is because it retains more flavour. The fluffier a gelato or ice cream is, the more air is actually in it, and conversely the denser it is, the more compact and richer it actually is.
A wide variety of gelato flavours
Fandango of flavours
Although ice cream comes in a multitude of flavours, it can never beat the flavour and richness of gelato. This is because gelato is made with high quality products and requires more care and attention in production to maintain quality. For example, a good vanilla gelato will be made from pure vanilla pods, and you can still see the tiny sparkly specks in it still glistening. That is how you can tell high quality vanilla gelato apart from the rest.
Freshly made vanilla gelato
At M Marini’s Caffé, we serve our delectable housemade vanilla gelato with a side of mixed berry sauce. Another signature dessert are our warm brownies served with chocolate fudge and toasted walnuts, and topped with a generous dollop of fresh housemade vanilla gelato. Always remember: never compromise on quality and you’ll taste the difference.