It’s Gelato NOT an Ice-Cream
-“This must be my last meal or did I die and went to food heaven “…
-“No, you’re not dead but yes, you’re in food heaven indulging in one of the most iconic Italian desserts – a holy gelato.”
That was my response to my friend’s reaction when she tried an authentic Italian gelato for the first time during her trip to Bel Paese. And being completely honest with you, I don’t think there is a better way to describe this well-loved frozen dessert invented by Bernardo Buontalenti during the Italian Renaissance. A lot has changed since then but the authentic taste of a real traditional Italian gelato still remains a pure perfection.
But first we need to clarify something here: even if “gelato” is an Italian word for an “ice-cream” these two frozen desserts have little in common. While artisanal gelato is a quintessence of fresh fruits transformed in a frozen delight, a typical ice-cream is made from artificial flavors additives, lots of cream and tones of sugar what makes it a very unhealthy dessert option. Another important difference between these two frozen desserts is that a typical ice-cream has a creamier texture, fluffy structure and it’s definitely more fatty and sugary than his Italian cuisine. While gelato has a dense structure, smooth texture, and intense, satisfying flavor.
Iconic Italian Dessert
But what makes an Italian gelato so special? Well, if you have ever tried an authentic Italian cuisine you know what a feast for the eyes and the palate really means. This is because Italians place the main emphasis on the quality of the local ingredients and prepare their traditional meals with sophistication and love. That’s why an authentic Italian cuisine is like an art characterized by simplicity, integrity, and harmony, and the most iconic Italian dessert is no exception to this rule.
This wonderful combination of fresh fine ingredients, smooth creamy texture, natural flavors, real passion, and incredible simplicity makes gelato a perfect frozen dessert that will satisfy every sweet tooth. And you know what’s even better? This lower in fat, sugar, and calories Italian type of an ice-cream is actually considered a healthy dessert or more precisely a healthy meal. That’s why during an Italian summer when the temperature rises up to 40 degrees and it gets uncomfortably hot you can see lots of people having gelato for breakfast. And being completely honest with you it may have happened to me once… or maybe twice… ok, multiple times… But what can you do Italian gelato is addictive…
Besides, when you enter into “gelateria” (an Italian ice-cream store) you actually enter foodie heaven. This gorgeous rainbow of colors, a wonderful variety of flavor and fancy names recall the best childhood memories. But here’s the catch: the insane number of flavors visible through the outside window can make you dizzy. But don’t worry because I’ve made my long-term research that results in this top 10 gelato flavors that will definitely make your choice easier and therefore you will avoid a panic attack just before ordering your gelato during a vacation in Italy.
Top 10 Italian gelato flavors (a subjective guide)
If you have ever been to Italy you certainly tried an authentic Italian “cheer me up” (Tiramisu) dessert. If your answer is yes, just imagine this iconic dessert transformed in a frozen delight. The perfect combination of creamy mascarpone cheese, espresso, cacao, and egg yolk makes this gelato flavor the ultimate guilty pleasure. But be careful because just like a traditional form of this iconic Italian dessert, a Tiramisu gelato is incredibly addictive! Once you tried it you will become obsessed with it. But the good news is that Tiramisu in the form of frozen delight is less sugary what makes it a healthier option than a classic form of this insanely delicious dessert.
2. Zuppa Inglese
Zuppa Inglese flavor is another traditional Italian dessert in the form of gelato. This perfect combination of egg custard, a sweet, scarlet-colored aromatic liqueur, Alchermes (it can be also sherry or Madeira) with bits of delicious cookies does resemble a traditional English dessert called “Trifle”. So if you like the taste of authentic English dessert made with fresh fruits, a thin layer of sponge fingers soaked in sherry and custard you will definitely love the Zuppa Inglese gelato flavor.
Stracciatella is definitely one of the most traditional Italian gelato flavors. This name refers to a classic Italian soup made with a meat broth, fresh eggs, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. But when it comes to a gelato the Stracciatella flavor is made from fior di latte (light vanilla cream) and drizzled with chunks of dark chocolate. This combination of light, creamy texture and bits of dark chocolate is perfect for hot summer day because it’s not too sweet but it definitely satisfies your chocolate craving.
4. Strawberry Cheesecake
Who doesn’t like a strawberry cheesecake? This inspired by a creamy baked cheesecake gelato flavor is a wonderful combination of intense strawberry flavor and light creamy fresh Mascarpone or Ricotta cheese delight. This insanely delicious world-famous dessert in the form of frozen delight is a quintessence of perfection and an ideal choice for summer indulgence.
Well, the Italian word “bacio” actually means “kiss” and reflects perfectly the combination of two different flavors (milk chocolate and hazelnut paste) that combined together makes an ideal couple. This delicious mixture of rich chocolate flavor and nutty hazelnut praline tastes exactly like world-famous The Bacio Perugina chocolates filled with gianduia, chopped hazelnuts and covered with dark chocolate that are produced by a company from Perugia in Umbria. If you have ever eaten their chocolates with an irregular and roundish shape you probably remember their nut milk chocolate unforgettable flavor.
6. Crème caramel
Creme caramel gelato flavor is inspired by classic French Custard Pudding. This perfect combination of heavily salted and wonderfully sweet flavors makes it an ideal choice for those who like me have sweet and savory cravings simultaneously. Besides who doesn’t like the sweetness of caramel enhanced with a touch of salt? It’s pure perfection!
If you’re looking for an extravagant taste designed for adults, Zabaione gelato flavor is a perfect choice. This fancy combination and silky texture of egg-based cream and sweet, fortified Marsala (a sweet wine produced in Sicily) make it gelato a liqueur flavored frozen delight just perfect for every custard fanatic!
8. Cioccolato Fondente (Dark Chocolate)
If you are a dark chocolate lover this flavor is exactly what you’re looking for. This classic, creamy extra dark chocolate flavor prepared with high-quality chocolate, makes this gelato a safe but definitely refined option. Honestly, I love its rich, pleasantly bitter and decadent flavor that goes perfectly with an afternoon espresso…
As any other artisanal gelato made from 100% natural Italian ingredients. This very popular gelato flavor tastes exactly as you think. Because pistachio gelato is created with Sicilian pistachio nuts worked with the cold-pressing method with a pinch of Cervia salt that enhances the flavor and pistachio grains that creates more refined texture. It is said that this particular gelato flavor indicates the quality of an ice-cream shop because if it has a pale green color it means that the ingredients are natural but if it’s an intense vibrant almost blinding color it indicates that chlorophyll has been used and you don’t want that. So look for a pale green color when ordering a pistachio gelato.
10. Puffo (Smurf)
If you thought that the brilliant and original color of Puffo is achieved by using artificial colors and flavors you’re wrong! Because the ingredient responsible for the intense blue color of “Smurf” gelato is the pigment of Spirulina algae what makes this frozen treat almost a superfood option! No, but seriously, Puffo gelato flavor is definitely an interesting one and of course because of the coloring its kids first choice. What I love the most in this particular gelato flavor is its smooth creamy texture, pure vanilla extract and of course rich in essential amino acids spirulina!