Gooey ice cream?
July 30, 2007 8:59 PM   Subscribe

I once tried some "gelato" at a local cafe that wasn't really gelato, but sort of a gooey, stretchy, almost toffee-like ice-cream. Does it have a name?
posted by archagon to Food & Drink (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Was it old gelato? I find the local coffeeshop's rarely-used ice cream tubs produce gooey stuff after a few months of aging.
posted by asuprenant at 9:08 PM on July 30, 2007

Could it have been Turkish ice cream? More info here. It's apparently quite stretchy and chewy.
posted by web-goddess at 9:56 PM on July 30, 2007

posted by rhizome at 10:28 PM on July 30, 2007

posted by essexjan at 11:28 PM on July 30, 2007



In all seriousness, though, it was probably gelato that had thawed and then been refrozen. I've noticed the thickening and change of texture a few times when I carelessly left a tub of gelato on the kitchen counter for an extended period of time after scooping myself a bowl.

I believe the effect is due to the ice crystals that give the gelato its ice-cream-like texture melting and reforming as much smaller, grittier crystals once the mixture is refrozen.
posted by tehloki at 12:17 AM on July 31, 2007

tehloki, the crystals would get bigger, not smaller. But yeah, that would make it grittier.

The name for it is the "skin"

My current summer job is at ice cream shop, and what you experienced is almost surely a low-frequency flavor that's been sitting open in the chest freezer for far too long. Every time the freezer gets opened, a little bit of it melts, and then refreezes. Every time. It's not really noticeable if the flavor has high turnover (that gooey refrozen top layer keeps getting scooped off before it's noticeably thick), but if the layer doesn't get scooped off for a couple of days, it can get to be about a centimeter thick. And when you're scraping your scoops off the top (like you're supposed to) rather than digging them out, you're scraping off that skin, and not much more. And apparently, your cafe was then serving that skin to you.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 1:55 AM on July 31, 2007

I'd also go with semifreddo. I tried some for the first time at Zanoni & Zanoni (in Vienna) a few weeks ago, and your description reminds me of its unusual texture.
posted by syzygy at 7:14 AM on July 31, 2007

The redoubtable Harold McGee has an article in the NYT about this today: Ice Cream That's a Stretch (login required). Here are the relevant paragraphs (I love the "fox testicle" part):

Chewy ice cream requires hard work. The traditional Turkish salep dondurma is milk sweetened and flavored with mastic, an aromatic resin, and thickened with salep, the powdered bulbs of several wild orchids. The bulbs contain a mucilaginous carbohydrate called glucomannan, which the orchids use to retain water during dry periods. When dissolved in milk, the long coiled glucomannan chains bind up and block the movement of water molecules, and thicken the milk. Hot salep milk is a drink long esteemed in Turkey and Europe for boosting virility (“salep” comes from the Arabic for “fox testicle”).

Salep ice cream was probably discovered when someone accidentally let the salep drink freeze. As the water forms ice crystals and the glucomannan chains become more crowded in the remaining liquid, their coils overlap and bond to form an interconnected network. The dondurma-maker, or a machine built for the purpose, pounds and stretches the ice cream for 20 minutes to organize the network into a dense, elastic mass, just as a breadmaker kneads dough to develop its gluten. Portions of the firm, chewy ice cream are cut with a knife.

Genuine salep is expensive and hard to find. But it turns out that the commercial stabilizer guar gum (from the tropical cluster bean) and Japanese konjac flour (from tubers of a taro relative) contain closely related carbohydrates that behave in much the same way as salep glucomannan. Guar gum is sold on specialty-ingredient Web sites, konjac in Japanese groceries.

posted by ottereroticist at 8:25 AM on August 1, 2007

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