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Flavor Field Notes: Gelato Heats Up Cool Desserts

Posted: April 16, 2007

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The possibilities for cool, sweet gelato satisfaction seem limitless. A light dish of Irish cream amaretto gelato is pretty tempting to some. Or imagine perhaps enjoying a nice generous bowl of white chocolate prickly pear while lounging poolside on a warm, sunny afternoon. Jack Daniels butter pecan is also another flavor that makes for a sweet treat. Rose petal, carrot ginger and chocolate jalapeño are just some of the daring varieties offered by the New York-based Ciao Bella Gelato Co., one of the more established gelato artisans located in the United States.

Founded by the former owner of Ciao Bella, Jon Snyder, New York gelateria il Laboratorio del Gelato touts flavors ranging from tarragon with pink pepper to Mexican cinnamon basil, as well as five different varieties of plum.

Not surprisingly, there are other companies who have joined the gelato flavor revolution as well. The “lab,” as it is cleverly referred to, encourages chefs and caterers to suggest their own unique flavor combinations in order to keep new ideas in constant rotation.

Gelateria Naia, based out of Northern California, is also experimenting with gelato’s potential by introducing exotic spices to the mix such as anise, cardamom and Thai iced tea.

Michigan-based Palazzolo’s goes as far as to offer gelato customization of “any flavor imaginable,” in addition to its extensive list of almost 500 others. The categories offered at Palazzolo’s, as well as an example from each, are as follows:

  • Vanilla—sour cream vanilla 
  • Chocolate—French chocolate caramel brandy fudge 
  • Coffee—cappuccino orange peel 
  • Flavors of Italy—roasted pine nut 
  • Fresh fruit—sun-dried cranberry 
  • Liqueurs—peanut honey amaretto 
  • Nuts and things—toasted sesame raw honey pistachio 
  • Seasonal/holiday—butter walnut