Chocolate Special - Part II

Chocolate Special - Part II

Chocolate is good for us. It reduces hypertension, helps prevent cardiovascular disease, boosts our energy and improves our mood. In fact, chocolate contains flavonoids, antioxidants also found in red wine, which improve circulation by lowering blood pressure. When taken in small doses, it becomes a valuable ally for our hearts.

Properties for the body
This is confirmed by a joint study published in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) by the University of Düsseldorf, Harvard Medical School and Mars Incorporated. Two groups of healthy males were given two types of chocolate drink: one high in epicatechin, the flavanol which was the object of the study, and another which tasted similar but had a much lower percentage of the antioxidant molecule. The members of the first group experienced increased blood vessel relaxation. In the second step, the groups were given one of two drinks each lacking the chocolate aroma: while the first was epicatechin-rich, the second was a placebo drink. As confirmation of the beneficial properties of the flavonoid contained in chocolate, those drinking the first beverage had the same benefits as those who had drunk the epicatechin-rich chocolate drink in the first step. 
Another beneficial property of chocolate is its ability to improve mood. Those who seek solace from the pangs of love in a bowl of chocolate gelato know all too well what this is about. It is more than just a matter of enjoying breaking one’s diet: chocolate in fact acts as a catalyst by releasing endorphin, a molecule produced by the brain when our mood is one of joy and euphoria. Chocolate also stimulates the production of serotonin, the neurotransmitter also known as the “happiness hormone” that gives us a sense of well-being and relaxation. Confirmation of these benefits come from the medical world: antidepressant drugs based on serotonin are becoming increasingly widespread. Chocolate also contains anandamide, a substance that stimulates happiness and euphoria, as well as methylxanthine, which boosts energy and improves concentration. And while the phosphorus in fish is important for improving memory, eating chocolate is even better because it contains about twice as much. Finally, dark chocolate contains no cholesterol and, contrary to popular belief, helps prevent tooth decay! Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that cocoa is effective at countering the acids from the sugar found in chocolate desserts. That's why we simply cannot resist a bowl of chocolate gelato after a meal or snack.

Brioche with gelato
Brioche with gelato

Sliced open and filled with gelato, with cream, or even with both, the brioche with gelato is a typical Sicilian speciality which has recently been exported to the rest of Italy; it is becoming increasingly common to see gelato shops offering this delicacy, with regional variations such as croissants and buns or the truly Sicilian “tuppo” brioche.

Vegan gelato, the new trend of Italian gelato-making.
Vegan gelato, the new trend of Italian gelato-making.

The last SIGEP, the International Homemade Gelato, Pastry, and Bakery Fair, in Rimini, saw a trend among all of the major companies in the industry to offer products – and in some cases an entire product line – for vegans. 

Part 2 - Pasteurization and homogenization of italian gelato
Part 2 - Pasteurization and homogenization of italian gelato

After selecting, assaying and processing the raw materials with the other ingredients, the next stages in making hand-made gelato are pasteurization and homogenization.

How to select ingredients for your gelato
How to select ingredients for your gelato

Why do manufacturer of ingredients for gelato parlours offer such a wide range of different bases? As user requirements differ so widely, the products are designed to help the gelato-maker to get consistently balanced mixtures, for creamier, more scoopable gelato.

Part 3 -Maturation and Batch freezing of Italian gelato
Part 3 -Maturation and Batch freezing of Italian gelato

After pasteurization and homogenization, it is time for the mixture to undergo maturation and batch-freezing, which are crucial stages for a good hand-made gelato.

Investments, costs and revenues in opening a gelato shop
Investments, costs and revenues in opening a gelato shop

Over the course of time, Italian gelato has earned itself a reputation for continuous innovation in production methods, technologies and ingredients, often dictated by the needs of both practising and would-be gelato-makers.

Differences between artisan Italian gelato, industrial ice cream and soft ice cream
Differences between artisan Italian gelato, industrial ice cream and soft ice cream

Often the differences between italian gelato, industrial ice cream and soft ice cream are not clear to everyone, even though in Italy the fact that there are so many gelato parlours as well as a history of hand-made gelato making would seem to facilitate this distinction.

How to make a good hand-made gelato
How to make a good hand-made gelato

Making gelato used to involve a machine known as a sorbetière, refrigerated using ice and salt, with the mix being batch frozen by hand using a long spatula-shaped stick. Luckily, things have changed quite a bit since then! 

The role of semi-finished products in gelato-making
The role of semi-finished products in gelato-making

Compound ingredients for gelato or semi-finished products are mixtures of ingredients in powder or paste that the gelato-maker keeps by his side when preparing mixtures (stabilization) and giving them flavor.

Selecting the gelato ingredients
Selecting the gelato ingredients

Choosing the right raw materials is a fundamental part of making outstanding hand-made gelato: the finest milk, eggs and sugar, and the best semi-finished ingredients and semi-finished products are a key component in the creativity of every craftsman.

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