Thursday, May 22, 2014

Winning Gelato and Ice Cream Flavor Combinations…a Great Way to Welcome Summer 2014!

The past two months have been a whirlwind of food-related trade shows and gelato and ice cream contests. Here are some highlights.
If you are interested in the top-five food trends (one of them being gelato) from the annual National Restaurant Association (NRA) Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show that took place this past week in Chicago, link HERE to an article I wrote for Food Business News.

What really stood out at this year’s NRA was how gelato dominated the frozen dairy dessert category, much like frozen yogurt had in past years. Nearly two dozen gelato companies, either those who sell mix for onsite freezing or finished product ready for serving, sampled innovations.

Two of them made a winning impression on me. Al Gelato Inc., one of the original gelatorias in Chicagoland and long known for making gelato truffles, which are balls of gelato that are coated and rolled in a topping, debuted Gelato Truffle on a Stick. This packaged retail product comes in three varieties: Caramel & Toffee, Chocolate and Praline Pecan and Vanilla & Caramel. Each 5-ounce truffle contains 420 to 430 calories and 26 to 28 grams of fat. They are absolute heaven!

PreGel America showcased the most innovations in gelato, including parfaits, dessert beverages and…the Panini Gelato. This novel concept is basically gelato neatly spooned onto an opened golden sweet bun and layered with a savory or sweet topping. The bun is then pressed together, much like a Panini sandwich. The company supplies the easy-to-use gelato Panini press that allows for customized, assembled on the spot, original frozen desserts. The end result is warm on the outside and cold on the inside.

Some of the more popular combinations are almond gelato with pureed fig, coffee gelato with coffee and nut crunch, salted caramel gelato with caramel sauce and custard gelato with lemon cookie crumbles. Pictured here is pistachio and almond gelato with cherry pieces.

Not from NRA but still foodservice related in this incredible sundae that the chefs at US Foods dished out at a media sampling event at the end of March. The sundae starts with the company’s new Chef’s Line Salted Caramel Ice Cream with Sea Salt and is topped with its new Patuxent Farms Bourbon Flavored Bacon Topping for the ultimate chill in sweet and savory.

I wrote an entire review of the event for Food Business News. If you are interested in reading about US Foods’ more than 30 new products for this summer, click HERE.

Right before NRA opened its doors in Chicago, Hudsonville Ice Cream, from across Lake Michigan in Holland, MI, was wrapping up its contest with Chicagoans to name its upcoming limited-edition flavor to honor the Windy City’s football team. The company teamed up with the Chicago Bears to launch a recipe of chocolate ice cream with fudge pieces and a peanut butter ripple and asked Bears’ fans to vote online for one of three names: Chocolate Monster, Da Ice Cream and Bear Traxx.

Bear Traxx won! One random voter of the flavor also came out a big winner, as he/she will receive a year’s supply of free ice cream.
Bear Traxx will roll out just in time for tailgating at Soldier Field as part of Hudsonville’s quarterly rotation of seasonally inspired ice creams that capture the best flavors that the Midwest has to offer. “We are truly excited and honored to partner with the Bears organization. The Bears work hard and bring Chicagoans together; their milestones have caused celebration since 1920. At Hudsonville we feel we have many of those same qualities,” says CJ Ellens of Hudsonville Ice Cream. “The artisans at Hudsonville started making ice cream back in 1926 and we work hard every day to make the best ice cream we can. Ice cream brings people together and helps us celebrate.”

Photo source: The Ice Cream Informant Some other innovative ice cream winners were announced in April at IDFA’s Ice Cream Technology Conference. The Most Innovative Ice Cream Flavor in the marketplace went to Publix Super Markets for Southern Banana Pudding. The Most Innovative Prototype Flavor went to SensoryEffects for Lemon Poppy Pound Cake. Wells Enterprises Inc., the maker of Blue Bunny ice cream, won the most innovative novelty with Greek Strawberry with Granola, a Greek frozen yogurt bar with a strawberry swirl and granola coating.

The grandest contest of all—the Gelato World Tour--took place Mother’s Day weekend in Austin, TX. Of the 16 North American competitors who were finalists in the Gelato World Tour, only three will advance to the World Champion Finals in Rimini, Italy, on September 5 to 7. The winning flavors were chosen by a (secret) panel of expert judges who work as chefs, educators and food journalists from around the country. But of equal weight were the people’s choices (50% professional jury and 50% visitors who voted). Thousands of visitors joined the competition, tasted the flavors and selected their favorite. When those scores were combined, the following artisans were selected to represent North America in the world championships:

Salted Pecan with Montmorency Tart Cherries & Tahitian Vanilla by James Coleridge & Salvatore Boccarossa of Bella Gelateria, Vancouver, Canada

Profumi di Sicilia by Stefano Versace & Francisco Blanco of Versace Gelateria Italiana & Gourmet, Doral, FL (pictured above)

Nuts by Matthew Lee of TEO, Austin, TX (pictured)

A “Peers Award,” voted on by competing artisans, was given to:
Goat Cheese Cashew Caramel by Jessica Oloroso of Black Dog Gelato, Chicago (pictured)

The professional jury presented two technical awards. They went to:
Raspberry Beet by Baron W. Von Gottsacker of Bent Spoon Gelato, Sheboygan, WI (pictured)

La Grande Bellezza–The Great Beauty (Avocado Basil) by Silvia Bertolazzi of Carpe Diem! Gelato-Expresso Bar, Lafayette, LA

The other finalists and their concepts were:

Bananas Foster by Elizabeth McCleary of Devine Gelateria & Café, Sacramento, CA

Carmastachio by Stephen Hovis of Nucci’s Gelato, Franklin, TN

Chocolate Orange Liqueur by Peter Miller of Tazzina di Gelato, Tucson, AZ

Chocolate Stout Beer with Carmel Crunch by Kimberly Zanni of Gelato Di Babbo, Lititz, PA

Fior di Bronte ¬ pure Sicilian Pistachio by Josh Collier of Café Dolce Gelato, Houston, TX

Maple Brown Butter Pecan by Carmen Angelo Ricciardi of Carmen’s Gelato, Anchorage, AK

Rich Chocolate, Dark Rum & Wild Cherry by Tammy Giuliani of Stella Luna Gelato Café, Ontario, Canada

Texan Kulfi by Jasmine Chida of Sweet Cup Artisan Gelato & Espresso, Houston, TX

Toasted Marshmallow Graham Cracker: That’s a Smoré by Jon Snyder of Il Laboratorio Del Gelato, New York, NY

by Mary Stanley of The Turtle Gelateria, Brownwood, TX

The event, attended by thousands of visitors and gelato enthusiasts, was organized by Carpigiani Gelato University, the most prestigious Gelato School in the world, which has 13 schools on five continents. For more information, visit HERE.

And lastly, for your reading pleasure, check out this article from The Huffington Post on “5 Crazy Ice Cream Flavors Around the World.” Click HERE. (Thanks Bob for sending this!)

Click HERE to view a slideshow of the flavors.

Enjoy this summer kick-off holiday weekend with…none other than…your favorite ice cream!
(And thank you SensoryEffects for sponsoring today's 100th Daily Dose of Dairy blog!)

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