There are many different definitions of what makes a frozen concoction into gelato rather than ice cream which include:
- no cream
- just enough cream to make American milk have the fat content of Italian milk (which apparently is a little bit fattier)
- no egg whites
- no eggs at all
- or just special equipment that freezes the stuff with less air mixed in
Thus far I've made "gelato" with no cream (whole milk and evaporated milk) and no egg whites (the chocolate orange gelato) and with the just enough cream and no egg whites (pine nut honey gelato--recipe below) combinations. Both were very good and rich and intense. But so was the stuff that I've made that I've thought of as "ice cream"-- the lemon, the cinnamon.
What do you think? Is the term "gelato" merely being used to impress and sound sophisticated while "ice cream" sounds more homey and comforting? Does it imply an intensity of flavor that one does not usually get with stuff called "ice cream"? Is is really about the inclusion of egg whites? Or has the two words become synonymous?
While you are thinking about your response to the above questions, might I suggest you have a scoop of Pine nut honey gelato?
Pine Nut Honey Gelato
adapted from The Ultimate Frozen Dessert Book
1.5 cups 1% milk (that's what I had in the house so I adjusted the cream quantity accordingly to try and mimic Italian milk fat content)
1 C cream
4 egg yolks
1 C toasted pine nuts (you can get these pre-toasted at Trader Joes if, like me, you have a short attention span and a tendency to burn nuts when you try to toast them)
2/3 C honey
1/4-1/2 t salt
1/2 t vanilla extract
- In a food processor chop the nuts, salt and vanilla extract until it forms a paste. Add the egg yolks and process some more.
- In a pan, heat up the milk and cream and honey until hot but not boiling.
- With the food processor running slowly pour 1.5 cups of the hot milk/honey combination down the feed tube. Then add the egg/milk/honey mixture back to the pan and cook gently, whisking continually, until the custard coats the back of a spoon.
- Strain the custard through a sieve into a bowl, cover the surface with plastic wrap and chill until cold.
- Freeze in your machine. Then put in a container and freeze until firm.
- Serve with a drizzle of honey and a few whole pine nuts sprinkled over the top.