Chill Out!

By Leslie Marin

There’s nothing better on a hot summer night ~ or day, for that matter ~ than a sweet, frozen, and refreshing treat. We’re all familiar with ice cream, but with very subtle changes it can become a completely different dessert:

Sorbet: The French came up with this simple frozen confection that contains none of the dairy ingredients (milk, eggs, cream) that ice cream does. Sorbet is most often fruit ~ although there are some delicious wine, coffee and chocolate versions), sugar, water and lemon juice. Sorbet has a very intense flavor and contains no fat.

Sorbetto: This Italian interpretation of sorbet typically has more fruit and less water than French sorbet, making it softer and less icy. It’s also called “Italian ice.”

Sherbet: The best of both worlds, sherbet comes closer to offering the richness of ice cream because it contains some milk or cream and ~ occasionally ~ egg whites while maintaining the intense, concentrated flavor ~ usually fruit ~ of sorbet. And it’s still pretty low in the fat department ~ 1-2% (& 4-6% dairy).

Granita: Another French creation, granita is similar to sorbet but has a grainier consistency because the mixture is frozen in trays and then scraped and refrozen, a process that results in tiny bits.

Gelato: The manufacturing process for gelato, the Italian word for ice cream, doesn’t incorporate as much air as does the process for American ice cream, so the outcome is a denser, creamier mixture ~ even though it is made with milk, not cream. Gelato contains anywhere from 6 to 8% butterfat.

Frozen yogurt: Not much to explain, it is exactly that, yogurt that’s frozen.

And finally, what make ice cream…ice cream?: The USDA requires at least 10% butterfat and at least 20% dairy. Many ice creams hit 18% fat, and just as many contain up to 50% air. Who knew air could taste so yummy!

Need to take your love of frozen desserts to the next level? Enroll in Ice Cream University at! And if you’re at a loss about where to go for your next vacation, check out the University’s annual Gelato tour of Italy ~ for diehard fans of international travel and gelato only!