Why You Should Warm Up Gelato A Tiny Bit Before Serving

Italian gelato tubs with scoopers
Italian gelato tubs with scoopers - fabiano goreme caddeo/Shutterstock

Ice cream and gelato have much in common. They are both cold, creamy, sweet treats that come in a variety of flavors to tempt the palate. However, there are distinct differences between the two cool gems. For one, the ingredients are slightly different. Although subtle, this difference results in a notably different texture. Gelato is also not scooped in the same way as ice cream. Head into any gelateria in Italy and you'll see gelato handled and served with a flat paddle, otherwise known as a spade, rather than a scoop, ala traditional American ice cream parlors.

There's also a difference in how the two foods are made. During a process called overrun, both treats are incorporated with air. However, ice cream has a much higher overrun, which means it contains a lot more air. Where ice cream might contain up to 70% overrun, gelato maintains a lower 20-30%. Because of the higher air content, ice cream has a lighter texture, while gelato is more dense. Bringing gelato's temperature up a bit allows its texture to soften, releasing the silky bliss and full-bodied flavors you expect.

Read more: The Ultimate Ice Cream Brands, Ranked

So What's The Scoop On Warm Gelato?

raspberry gelato
raspberry gelato - Hdagli/Getty Images

Whether you whip up a batch of your own gelato or struggle to get the lid off your beloved Talenti from the freezer, allow the temperature to rise slightly by moving your gelato from the freezer to the refrigerator approximately 15 to 30 minutes before serving. We're not talking about warming your gelato to room temperature here, but since a freezer is typically set at around zero degrees Fahrenheit, you'll want to let your gelato's temperature nudge up by about 10-15 degrees Fahrenheit before serving. The goal is to soften the gelato without melting it. You want to be able to maneuver the cold confection into a bowl or use it to make a fun and festive watermelon pie dessert, without having to chisel rock-hard frozen gelato out of its container.

Although you can plunge your gelato into warm water, set it out on the counter, or even zap it briefly in the microwave, allowing your gelato to warm slowly in the refrigerator will allow it to thaw more consistently. It's important to ensure your unused gelato doesn't get too soft, or the runny bits will crystallize when it goes back into the freezer, which ruins the smooth consistency gelato is known for.

Why A Slight Warming Optimizes Gelato's Qualities

various gelato flavors
various gelato flavors - Oksana Mizina/Shutterstock

To grasp how gelato benefits from a brief warming, it helps to understand its composition and how it differs from ice cream. Both gelato and ice cream embrace the velvety offerings of cream and milk as the base for their sweet essence. However, ice cream uses a higher percentage of cream, while gelato spotlights milk. That means gelato has a lower fat content, and in turn, will freeze faster and with a more crystallized texture. If served at the same frozen temps where ice cream finds its sweet spot, gelato will be hard with an icy texture. By allowing gelato to warm slightly, the silky texture comes to the fore.

The flavor of gelato also improves with a bit of warming. Whereas colder temperatures numb the tongue and mute the taste profile, less ice on the tongue allows flavors to come through. In addition, a higher fat content tends to coat the tongue, creating a barrier for the taste buds. With a lower fat content, gelato served at the ideal temperature allows the flavors of gelato to present. Whether you're a pistachio aficionado, prefer to dabble in espresso flavors, or want to put a combination of flavors into a gelato burger, do yourself, and your tastebuds, a favor by warming and softening it first.

Read the original article on Daily Meal