It seems every big ice cream maker is coming out with a gelato series — Haagen-Dasz, Graeter’s and now Breyers. That should be good news for those who love the Italian version of ice cream. Unfortunately, it often isn’t.
True gelato is made with less milk fat than traditional American ice cream. But the slow churning process doesn’t pack in more air and gives it a chewy, elastic texture that makes it feel decadent. And flavors of gelato tend to be intense, sometimes with swirls of fruit or sauces. What’s being packaged as gelato in America gives a nod to the artistry of gelato, but falls short in texture and flavor.
Breyers offers its gelato in flavors like triple chocolate, vanilla-caramel and tiramisu. The packaging looks like what you might see at an ice cream shop in Italy: oblong, ripple-topped and sprinkled with enticing bits.
The vanilla-caramel has a delicious thick swirl of caramel sauce between the layers of vanilla gelato. Too bad it’s topped with shavings that taste like artificially-flavored butterscotch chips. The chocolate shavings on the triple chocolate taste better, but the white chocolate swirl in the middle gets lost in the intense flavors of the dark chocolate and milk chocolate. Plus, the milk and dark chocolate gelatos sit on opposite sides of the container making it nearly impossible to get all three flavors in one scoop.
Breyers gelatos baffle me a bit in their nutritional analysis, too. While it should be lower fat and calories, it’s the same fat content and actually higher calories than their regular ice cream. Perhaps not a surprise — they’re called gelato “indulgences.” But certainly an indication that these probably aren’t gelato like one might get in Italy.
So in the end is it worth it? I’m a fan of Breyers natural line of ice cream as a good grocery store brand to serve atop a warm fruit cobbler or alongside a pie. But I wouldn’t spring for the gelato indulgences. I’ll save my calories for something more authentic.