ICE CREAM: GELATO
It would take a few centuries before milk or cream started to be added to these ice desserts, thus creating what we now know as gelato and ice cream. Just as with pizza, it is the Neapolitans to be credited with creating the first true ice creams, which appeared in an 18th century cookbook. Once dairy had been introduced, each nationality put their own stamp on ice cream, with Italy creating the flavor explosion known as gelato.
The differences between Italian gelato and ice cream are slight, yet make all the difference in flavor and texture. Gelato is made with milk, sometimes skim-milk as opposed to cream which givesgelato a much lower milk fat content. Less milk fat allows the flavors of gelato to really stand out compared to the more blended flavors of ice cream. Gelato’s flavor is helped by the fact that it has less air whipped into it than ice cream, making it much denser. Even the serving of gelato is different from that of ice cream, as it should be consumed while softer in consistency, more along the lines of soft-serve ice cream. Fans of ice cream are often surprised as just how flavorful gelatocan be and the ultimate chocoholic might find themselves in love with one of the vibrantly colored fruit flavors.
While Italy cannot take credit for truly inventing ice cream, it has arguably done more for the evolution of iced desserts than any other country. It was in Italy that the ancestors of ice cream and gelato turned into more than just regional treats. With such a history of ice cream innovation, it is doubtful that Italy is done creating frozen masterpieces, yet.