HERE’S THE SCOOP ON WHAT GELATO AND ICE CREAM ARE EXACTLY
Nothing is more satisfying on a hot day (or any day!) than a colorful cup of gelato or several scoops of ice cream precariously piled high on a waffle cone. So, gelato vs ice cream…is there really any difference? While equally delicious, ice cream and gelato are not the same.
What is Gelato?
Gelato is a frozen Italian dessert that comes in a multitude of flavors, from rich, dense chocolate to juicy and tart lemon to delightful and satisfying stracciatella, sweet cream with dark chocolate shards. The main difference between gelato and ice cream is that gelato has more milk and less cream than ice cream, making it have a denser and smoother consistency.
Classic gelato flavors include:
- Amarena: Amarena cherry and sweet cream
- Bacio: chocolate hazelnut
- Cioccolato fondente: dark chocolate
- Fior di latte: sweet cream
- Fragola: strawberry
- Nocciola: hazelnut
- Pistacchio: pistachio
What Makes Gelato Different From Ice Cream?
The main difference between the two is that gelato is the dairy content, consistency, and history. Gelato has more milk and less cream than ice cream, and a denser, smoother consistency. Ice cream is a Chinese invention that has been popularized in America. Gelato is an Italian invention that is now popular worldwide.
Gelato vs Ice Cream
Gelato and ice cream are both made with cream, milk, and sugar. They are sometimes made with egg yolks. Gelato has less cream and less fat than ice cream.
Ice cream is fluffier and has a creamier consistency than gelato, which has a silky mouthfeel and more intense flavor.
Ice cream has a custard base that has more cream than milk, making it richer and creamier than gelato. It should not be confused with its creamier cousin, frozen custard, which must contain a minimum of 1.4 percent egg yolk solids. To be labeled as ice cream in the U.S., the frozen dessert must have at least 10% milkfat.
Ice cream was first made by the Chinese in the Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.), but it was far from what we enjoy today. American Jacob Fussell pioneered modern ice cream production in the 19th century.
Gelato was invented by Bernardo Buontalenti in the 16th century and popularized in the 17th century by a Sicilian who opened a Parisian cafe that served the frozen treat.
Ice cream is mixed at high speeds, which makes it airy and is served frozen, making it harder to scoop. Whereas gelato is not served completely frozen. Gelato is churned much more slowly than, creating a dense and soft texture.
Ice cream is sold in ice cream shops, trucks, and soda fountains and from carts, and dairy farm stands. It is scooped from large round or rectangular cartons. It is more versatile and served in many ways, with toppings, and is often served with other desserts such as pies, brownies, cakes and cookies.
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Gelato is sold in gelaterias and carts and spaded from round containers of carefully sculpted mounds often adorned with whatever creates the flavor: berries for frutti di bosco (mixed berry) and hazelnuts for bacio and nocciola. It is typically served without toppings, but it may be accompanied by chocolate candy, panna montata (whipped cream), and pizzelle (a thin Italian-style waffle cookie).
Which is Healthier Gelato or Ice Cream?
Gelato is healthier than ice cream because it has less cream. Gelato has fewer egg yolks than ice cream and, oftentimes, does not have any eggs. As a result, it tends to have fewer calories, fat, and sugar.
Most Famous Gelato and Ice Cream (By the Pint)
Here’s the scoop. We’ve picked the perfect pints of the world’s most famous gelato and ice cream.
Nancy Silverton’s Nancy’s Fancy
James Beard Award-winner Nancy Silverton, who was head chef at Spago in Los Angeles, founded La Brea bakery, and baked exceptional pizzas at her Mozza restaurants, makes some of the world’s best gelato at her eponymous Nancy Silverton’s Nancy’s Fancy. Nancy’s Fancy flavors include:
- Amarena Cherry with Amaretti
- Italian Custard with Marsala & Citrus Caramel Swirl
- Meyer Lemon Torrone
Sweet Magnolia Gelato
Oxford, Mississippi’s Sweet Magnolia Gelato makes small batches with a Southern twist. Founded in 2011 by Hugh Balthrop, they use locally-sourced ingredients from local farmers markets and dairy farms. Sweet Magnolia Gelato flavors include:
- Delta Butter Pecan
- Ms. Mary’s Pound Cake
- Whiskey and Pecans
Sloan’s Ice Cream
Founded by chef Sloan Kamenstein in West Palm Beach in 1999, Sloan’s Ice Cream makes small batch ice cream and scoops it in shops with decor as whimsical as the ice cream flavors. Sloan’s Ice Cream creative, flavorable, and fun flavors include:
- Almond Joy
- Carrot Cake
- Coffee & Doughnuts
Bassetts Ice Cream
The oldest ice cream shop in the U.S., Bassetts Ice Cream has been scooping ice cream at Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market since 1892 (founded in 1861). Each scoop is smooth, creamy, and contains 16.5% butterfat. Bassetts Ice Cream flavors include:
- Butterscotch Vanilla
- Coffee Fudge Truffle
- Raspberry Truffle
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