Italian Frozen Desserts
Frozen desserts have a long history in Italy. Italians love their gelato, Italian-style ice cream. Gelato (shown in this figure) is a lot like American ice cream, but Italian gelato is usually much more intensely flavored. Strawberry gelato tastes first and foremost of berries, for example.
You can find dozens of common gelato flavors. In addition to the basics, such as vanilla and chocolate, many uniquely Italian flavors exist:
Castagna: Chestnuts make an especially rich, creamy gelato.
Fichi: Italians use fresh figs in season.
Gianduja: Intense combination of chocolate and hazelnut.
Limone: Lemon-flavored gelato.
Nocciola: Italians love hazelnuts!
Panna: This is ice cream (panna means cream) without any flavorings — basically vanilla ice cream, minus the vanilla.
Riso: A little cooked arborio rice is added to a plain vanilla ice cream base for an unusual gelato that resembles frozen rice pudding.
In addition to gelato, Italians make another kind of frozen dessert called a granita (see this figure). Granite (plural for granita) are scraped ices, much like the Italian ices sold by street vendors in North America. They have a granular, icy texture, somewhat like a Sno-Kone.
Granite usually don’t contain any dairy products, so most are nonfat.