Chilled Desserts

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

Italy has many custards, made both with and without eggs. See custard. Gelu di miluni, watermelon custard, is a Sicilian specialty made with cornstarch and watermelon juice. It is served all summer, but notably on 15 July in Palermo, to honor the city’s patron saint, Rosalia, and on Ferragosto, 15 August, Italy’s ancient summer holiday celebration. The simplest of the many frozen and semi-frozen (semifreddo) Italian desserts are granita and sorbetto, both essentially frozen water with flavorings. A fork is used to break the freezing mass of granita into crystalline shards, while sorbetto is generally churned to a smoother texture. Among the most popular granita flavors are lemon, coffee, almond, and pistachio. Spumone is the name for a category of semi-frozen and sweetened whipped cream desserts that can be made with all sorts of ingredients, including chocolate, fruit, and nuts. In the United States, “spumone” has come to mean molded ice cream in three layers—strawberry, vanilla, and pistachio—representing the colors of the Italian flag. See desserts, chilled; desserts, frozen; ice cream; italian ice; and sherbet.