Tharp & Young on Ice Cream
A: The addition of particulate inclusions into such novelties is limited by their relatively small size and the need to maintain specific shape identity in cones (particularly the round-top variety) and sandwiches. As particulates become larger, the number of particles in a given volume of ice cream becomes smaller. In other words, with novelties, which are typically small portions as compared to half-gallon cartons of ice cream, large particulate inclusions could be absent from some units altogether. Furthermore, large particulates tend to interfere with the uniformity of shape, which is important to cones and sandwiches. Thus, inclusions for novelties should be relatively small in size so pieces are present in all servings and novelty shapes are not affected.
In the case of injected syrups, restrictions related to novelty shape and size, extrusion nozzle design and ice cream flow distort the distribution of any but the simplest of variegated patterns. These challenges can be overcome by selecting a relatively simple pattern injected relatively close to the filling nozzle.
For molded ice cream novelties, the injection of inclusions can be accomplished by using new bottom-up fillers available from some equipment manufacturers. Many times these bottom-up filling devices can be retrofitted onto existing molded novelty equipment.
Q: Is there a way to treat sandwich wafers and cones to prevent them from getting soggy?
A: The migration of moisture from the unfrozen portion of ice cream into low-moisture, unprotected hard-baked items like cones or sandwich wafers is unavoidable. Protection against moisture migration can be provided by coating the contact surface with a material impervious to water (e.g., chocolate or fat/oil coatings), yet compatible with desirable eating qualities. In the case of cones, this is accomplished effectively by spraying a thin film of chocolate coating inside the cone shortly before it is filled. It is impractical to coat sandwich wafers in-line, and limitations of logistics and cost work against the use of pre-coated wafers. In addition, the presence of a coating would likely make it necessary to change the methods of handling wafers, possibly reducing throughput and increasing breakage. The industry has more or less accepted the idea that in order to maintain cost parameters (with respect to wafer cost, handling and throughput), it is inevitable that wafers become soggy within a few days of manufacture. Apparently consumers accept this condition as normal, as sales volumes for ice cream sandwiches seem not to be affected by this apparent defect. Further, a crisp, stiff wafer can have problems as well due to increased breakage during distribution and the tendency for ice cream to slip between the wafers during eating. Thus, a crisp, dry wafer may not be totally necessary or desirable.
Q: Why is gelato so rich-tasting and smooth, yet lower in fat and calories?
A: The International Dairy Foods Association describes gelato as a frozen dessert "...characterized by an intense flavor and served in a semi-frozen state. It contains sweeteners, milk, cream, egg yolks and flavoring." The semi-frozen state referred to in this description is a major factor in gelato's perceived richness. In that condition, gelato is served soon after it is frozen, so that ice crystals have not had the opportunity to grow and produce coarseness. Also, gelato, whether served semi-frozen at retail or packaged for hard-frozen distribution, is usually produced with relatively low overrun, making it quite dense. This adds to the product's perceived richness. Flavors in such low-overrun, dense products are often deliberately more concentrated and intense, delivering flavor profiles not possible in more conventional ice cream formulas and formats. The characterization of gelato as "lower in fat and calories" is erroneous. There is no standard of identity for gelato and fat levels in gelato vary as much as those in conventional ice cream. Also, the composition ranges involved are such that the calories per gram are in the same range as ice cream, per se. In fact, the lower overrun of gelato often produces higher calories per serving than conventional, high-overrun ice cream because of the increased weight per serving associated with the lower overruns.