What is the Difference between Gelato and Ice Cream?

The often-mentioned question customers love to ask. To wit, ice cream has more... cream. 

But it is a wee bit more complicated than that. In this and later posts I shall attempt to explain the differences and the similarities between gelato and ice cream, but if I fail spectacularly then it will be spectacular nonetheless.

Ice cream has more cream

Usually, the proportion of cream in gelato is less than that of ice cream, which is not to say that gelato has no cream. There is cream in gelato, and good quality cream at that, but less proportionately when compared to the typical ice cream.

Cream contains high levels of dairy fat, up to 36% dairy fat. That is what gives desserts that dreamy creamy mouthfeel. Just imagine drinking whole milk versus skim milk. Skim milk tastes like water simply due to the lack of dairy fat. So the saying "fat is flavour" holds true for this case.

But we must also understand that cream is NOT the only flavour source in gelato/ice cream. Apart from milk and cream, there are other flavour sources like nuts, fruits and chocolate that we use to flavour gelato/ice cream with. Cream will win in the battle for your taste buds, smothering all those lighter and more delicate flavours easily.

This is where a skilled gelato maker balances the amount of fat in a recipe to ensure that the gelato does not lose its creaminess nor its subtle flavours.  

So the next time you taste gelato, you might realise the flavours tend to be stronger and punchier than ice cream, and that is due to the lower proportion of cream. And yes, less fat does mean less calories too.

Which works out really well for gelato lovers.

Really well indeed. ;)


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