I had every intention of blogging last Friday about Easter recipes, everything from brunch, to dessert, to uses for leftover hardboiled eggs… that clearly didn’t happen. And then I wanted to blog yesterday, but I was just tired. My brain and body physically just wanted a rest. No thinking, no moving, just ‘being.’ SO I did. I didn’t even get out of my pajamas, and it was lovely. But, real life must resume.
The theme of our Easter menu was ‘Italian.’ We had garlic bread, pasta, lasagna, and of course, SPUMONI!
But do I go with gelato or ice cream… gelato is obviously the more Italian way, but, can I do it justice? The jury is still out if I did it justice (primarily because, well, I need an official ice cream vs. gelato jury). HOWEVER, regardless of whether you want to call this ice cream or gelato, bottom line, you need some in your life! Oh, and GREAT news, it doesn’t even require an ice cream maker. Yes, you read that right, NO ICE CREAM MAKER REQUIRED!
Ice Cream and Gelato evokes a bit of controversy. Ok, maybe not controversy, more like confusion?!?!
Is it like “Tomato, Tomaaaaato. Potato, Potaaaaato.”
Or is it like comparing “apples to oranges.”
I hear people claim gelato is healthier because of its lower fat content. Which, I find hard to belive given that gelato tastes so amazing (so it MUST contain thigh widening ingredients!) and most of the gelato recipes I found still contained heavy cream and egg yolks. I also found ice cream recipes that used lower fat ingredients… Sooooo, “riddle me that, Batman!”
I wanted better answers than that.
I’ve heard a bazillion and 1 different answers, which just confused me even more. I first went to wikipedia (duh!) and that gave me a little bit of info, but HOW true is it? I don’t know… I finally decided I needed to turn to the ice cream master himself, David Lebovitz, and see what he thought… and of course, he had thoughts on it.
In the end, I came to my own conclusions about a couple of the differences between ice cream and gelato.
Made in small batches and churned slowly.
Stored and served at a higher temperature. Because it’s served at a higher temperature, you can taste the flavors of gelato better. Flavors don’t come out as well at too low of a temperature. This is one reason people say gelato is more flavorful, when in fact it may or may not have more actual flavor than a batch of ice cream, but because of the temperature you’re eating it at, you can taste the flavors better.
Made in large batches (like HUMONGO industrial size batches) and churned quickly whipping lots of air into it.
Stored and served at a cooler temperature (completely frozen). Because it is served frozen, you can’t taste as much of the flavor. If you let you ice cream thaw for a bit, you’ll taste more of the actual flavor.
I’m not even going to get into the debate on whether or not gelato is ultimately lower in fat (I learned it’s actually legally mandated that gelato contain lower milk fat products, BUT, like EVERYTHING, I bet there are loopholes!). They can both can contain egg yolks, heavy cream, and loads of sugar. It has very little to do with the actual ingredients IN the frozen concoction, it really has to do with the was it was frozen and served.
Ok, finally, onto my spumoni… ice cream or gelato? Clearly you know what I went with… Even though my recipes may not be ‘traditional’ gelato ingredients, the finished product has a flavor and texture comparable to gelato.
I ended up freezing my spumoni 3 different ways:
1. Each flavor in a separate container so you can add as much or as little as 1 flavor to your bowl. This way you can really taste each flavor individually and each flavor has been frozen the same amount of time, so it’s at the same temperature.
2. Layering the flavors, horizontally. This way is not advised! First, I didn’t let the bottom layer freeze enough before I added the next layer. So the flavors just sort of blended together. Second, the chunks sort of sunk to the bottom, so the bottom layer has tons of chunks and good flavor, while the top just doesn’t. When you dig to the bottom with the ice cream scoop, you manage to get a bit of everything, but this was my least favorite ‘freezing’ method.
3. Layer the flavors vertically, like a container of neapolitan ice cream. Each flavor is separate and visible. When you scoop it you can run the scoop across the entire top and get a little in each scoop. This method requires freezing at a time and turning the bowl sideways to freeze.
Ok, hang with me, there are not 1, but 3 recipes below, one recipe for each flavor. And for the pistachio gelato, you have to start by making a pistachio paste, which is really easy but it’s one more step. After you make each flavor you have to freeze them, whichever way you prefer. This is a HUGE batch of gelato and it will feed a crowd. But with the temperatures starting to get warmer, I don’t think anyone will complain about having a little extra ice cream in their freezer, right?!?!
After freezing for about 6 – 10 hours the gelato is frozen, but still soft. It’s at just the right stage to scoop it out and eat, right away. After freezing for about 24 hours it’s firmer and could stand to be at room temperature for a few minutes before you scoop it. And from there on it just gets firmer and firmer. So let it sit out for about 5-10 minutes, heat your scoop (run it under hot water) and scoop out the delicious frozen concoction.
Be prepared to eat gelato for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You’ve been warned! This stuff converted me to not only being a spumoni lover, but I’m fairly certain it convinced me spumoni is my favorite flavor of any kind of frozen concoction, gelato or ice cream. I KNOW, not peanut butter?!?! Whaaaaat, how can that be? I know, trust me! I was surprised too, surprised that ANY ice cream could push my beloved peanut butter to the side… but, spumoni, you did it! Congratulations.
Oh ya, and which flavor is my favorite? Honestly, pistachio. For the love of all things, I could LIVE on pistachio gelato!