What makes your favorite summer treats so delicious?
In many parts of the world, the weather has finally turned warm and spring has arrived, with summer coming quickly on its heels! Our thoughts turn to warm, lazy summer days relaxing with friends and family. And whether you’re 2 years old or 102, everyone loves a cool, creamy ice cream cone on a warm day. We all have memories of eating ice cream as kids – whether you took forever to make a decision or always went right for your favorite flavor. Enjoying the delicious tastes and textures, and trying to catch all the drips as it melted. Chocolate was always my favorite flavor (surprise, surprise), and no matter how careful I was, I almost always ended up wearing half of the ice cream on my clothes!
Ice cream, gelato, sorbet – what’s the difference?
Ever wondered what the difference is between ice cream, gelato and sorbet? There are some obvious similarities – they are all partially frozen and contain sweeteners, flavorings, and other ingredients. While ice cream and gelato contain dairy, sorbet (or sorbetto if you are feeling Italian) do not.
Have you noticed that you can scoop ice cream into a firm ball, but gelato is much softer, and often served using a paddle? These differences in consistency are due to both the ingredients and the process of making ice cream versus gelato. One difference is the amount of butterfat. In the U.S., ice cream must contain at least 10% butterfat by law as mandated by the USDA. Some premium ice creams contain more, up to 60%. Gelato contains much less butterfat, typically between 4% and 6%. The butterfat makes the ice cream mixture thicker and heavier.
Another difference is the amount of air – ice cream contains much more air that is incorporated into the mixture as it is made. Ice cream can be as much as 50% air. Gelato contains less butterfat, so it is already lighter to begin with, and contains about half the amount of air. This helps to keep it dense, but also creamy.
The recipes are also different – ice cream often contains eggs, while gelato does not. A key issue for making ice cream is controlling crystallization, and eggs are one ingredient that helps with this. The egg yolks work as emulsifiers, and the whites work as stabilizers.
Watch and learn from the ice cream and gelato experts
Have you ever watched an Ecole Chocolat Chocolate Masters Hangout on Google+? They are online conversations we host with chocolate experts on a specific topic. We’ve covered lots of topics over the years, click here to watch past episodes. And of course, we did a hangout on COLD Chocolate – talking all about ice cream and gelato! We were joined by two Ecole Chocolat grads for this conversation – Richard Tango-Lowy from Dancing Lion Chocolate, and Jeff Dickey from Zocalisa Fine Chocolates.
Try a gelato recipe!
This recipe for chocolate gelato was developed in the Ecole Chocolat kitchens, with coaching from Judy Witts of Divina Cucina who suggested the addition of a bit of crunchy sea salt. The results are terrific. The recipe calls for milk rather than cream, and corn starch replaces egg yolks as a thickener, so it is a lower-fat, healthier version of regular full-fat ice cream.
Dark Chocolate Gelato with Sea Salt
Yield: Makes about 1 quart
3 cups whole milk, divided
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbsps. cornstarch
1 tbsp. finely powdered cocoa
7 oz. fine quality dark chocolate (50% or higher cocoa content)
3/4 tsp. flaked or crunchy finishing sea salt
Bring 2 1/4 cups milk just to a boil in a 4-quart heavy saucepan. Meanwhile, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, cocoa, then add 1/4 cup cold milk in a small bowl land whisk until smooth. Once milk in saucepan is boiling, whisk in cornstarch-sugar mixture and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil, whisking frequently, for 2-3 minutes until mixture bubbles and is very thick. Remove from heat.
Bring remaining 1/2 cup cold milk just to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Pour hot milk over chocolate in a bowl and let stand until chocolate is melted, about 1-2 minutes. Whisk until smooth.
Stir into cornstarch-milk mixture until thoroughly blended. Pour into a bowl and let cool slightly, about five minutes, stirring frequently to prevent a skin from forming. Cover surface with wax paper or plastic wrap and chill in fridge until completely cold, 2-3 hours. Stir in salt right before pouring into ice cream maker.
Stir and freeze mixture in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions; transfer to an airtight container and freeze until hardened, about 3 hours. Let soften 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
Have you ever made your own ice cream or gelato? How did it turn out? Do you prefer ice cream or gelato? What’s your favorite flavor? Tell us in the comments!