What is Gelato and How Does it Differ from Ice Cream?
Gelato is a classic Italian dessert known for its creamy smooth texture and variety of available flavor combinations. One of the most significant differences between ice cream and gelato is that gelato contains less cream and more milk compared to ice cream. Because of this, the fat content is at least 10 percent less than traditional ice cream. Due to the density of gelato, the texture is fluid enough to melt in your mouth.
Gelato on its own is already amazing. But when you combine it with a cake, the results are spectacular! I remember the first time I got one for my birthday at work. My company always did cakes for people’s birthdays, but getting a gelato cake – wow, I felt so special! Today we are sharing our favorite gelato cake recipes – feel free to make these for any occasion!
1. Neapolitan Frozen Layered Gelato Cake
This dessert is easy to prepare and can feed a crowd. If you love ice cream cake, then you are sure to enjoy this cake as well. The author highly recommends using the HemisFares brand. Luckily, this brand is sold at Kroger grocery stores in the United States, and there are several flavors to choose from. You can choose from flavors like chocolate, strawberry, hazelnut, or pistachio. This recipe is a spin on a Neapolitan and uses strawberry, chocolate, and stracciatella (which is like a vanilla with chocolate shavings in it.)
To make the layered cake, you will use a bread pan lined with wax paper. All you have to do is soften and spread the gelato evenly, starting with the bottom layer allowing each layer to harden up in the freezer individually before adding the next layer. Once you complete that process, take out the cake and smooth down the sides after removing the wax paper. Drizzle the top of your cake with chocolate and berries, and freeze it again until it’s ready to serve.
Get the full recipe and directions from Fav Family Recipes
2. Chocolate Hazelnut Gelato Cake
For this recipe, the author gives you step by step instructions to make homemade hazelnut gelato. Once that is mixed and cooled, you will use an electric ice cream maker to create the gelato’s smooth texture. Don’t forget to add some chopped Ferraro Rocher hazelnut candies near the end of the mixing process. This cake incorporates layers of rich chocolate sheet cake as well. You will need an 8 X 8 or 9 X 9 pan lined with parchment paper.
Lastly, you will cut two pieces of sheet cake to your pan’s exact size and lay one of the cakes in the bottom. Smooth all of the gelato on top to create the second layer and add your final chocolate cake layer on top, then freeze it. The author also shows you how to make a chocolate ganache spread for the top of the cake along with more chopped Ferraro Rocher candies for a stunning presentation.
Get the full recipe and directions from Simply So Good
3. Nigella Lawson’s Meringue Gelato Cake
This cake recipe from Nigella Lawson will simply melt in your mouth. The recipe calls for meringue cookies, coffee liqueur, heavy cream, and bittersweet chocolate to create the cake base which will go in a 9 X 5 bread pan. The author says to use a stand mixer with a whisk attachment to mix the gelato, so if you don’t own a stand mixer ask around to see if a friend or family member will let you borrow theirs.
This dessert needs to be frozen overnight or for at least 8 hours before serving, and since it’s formed in a bread pan, it gives you the perfect size for cutting individual slices. Before cutting the cake, you will also drizzle it with chocolate, and you can save any excess cake in a freezer-safe airtight container.
Get the full recipe and directions from Nigella Lawson and Food52
4. Strawberries and Cream Gelato Cake
If you’re looking for a refreshing layered cake that is perfect for a summer BBQ, then this recipe is for you. To make this recipe, you will layer strawberry sorbet and strawberry gelato for the inside of the cake and top it with sour cream gelato around the outside. The kitchen utensils you will need to make this stunning cake include an ice cream scoop and an offset spatula, plus a 9-inch springform pan.
Get the sorbet and gelato to a softened state before creating the layers in the pan. After freezing the cake, use a hot rag and wrap it around the outside of the pan until your cake can be released and come out cleanly. Garnish it with freshly cut strawberries once you are ready to serve your and dig into this berry-flavored dessert.
Get the full recipe and directions from Food and Wine
5. Panettone Gelato Cake
A unique component in this dessert is panettone. Panettone comes from Milan, Italy, and is a sweet bread that is often made during Christmas. This recipe will show you how to cut off the top of your panettone and scoop out the insides to leave behind a layer of crust. Make sure to leave the paper wrapping intact, or else your dessert will fall apart very quickly.
You will use the inside of the panettone to hold three different layers. The bottom layer consists of coffee ice cream, the middle layer consists of whisked egg whites and mascarpone cheese, and the top layer has vanilla ice cream. You can choose from any kind of flavored ice cream or gelato you prefer, but these are the flavors the author recommends for this recipe. It will take longer to freeze this dessert, so be sure to make this at least one day in advance, or else the ice cream layers will be too melty to serve.
Get the full recipe and directions from Side Chef
6. Chocolate Pistachio Gelato Torte
This easy torte has chocolate, hazelnut, and pistachio gelato in it which will end your party or dinner date on a high note. The author takes a slightly different approach by first freezing the metal bread loaf pan for 30 minutes.
After that, use a long piece of plastic wrap to line the bottom and extend it out to each side making it easy to pull out your dessert once it’s ready. You will spread one of the gelato layers on the bottom and freeze it for 15 minutes before adding the next layer. The recipe also tells you how to make a chocolate ganache in the microwave to coat the top of your torte. Look no further than this recipe if you want to make a delicious no-fuss dessert.
Get the full recipe and directions from Butter with a Side of Bread
7. Spumoni Ice Cream Cake
Pistachio, cherry, and chocolate ice cream flavors are what you will find in this version. The bottom of this cake includes your choice of either amaretti cookies, meringue cookies, or chocolate wafers. These cookies will be crumbled up and spread into one even layer. You will use a 9-inch springform pan to hold the dessert, and the author says to tap the softened ice cream down so that no air bubbles form in the pan as you’re preparing the cake.
After your cake is fully frozen, use a knife to help the cake come away from the edges of the pan and top it with fresh whipped cream and maraschino cherries before serving. This ice cream cake stands about 4 inches tall, so be sure to make plenty of room in your freezer before attempting to make it.
Get the full recipe and directions from NY Times
Any of these cakes are great for special occasions such as birthdays or holidays. One of the best gelato brands you can find in the U.S. is called HemisFares, but if you are willing to make it from scratch, have an ice cream maker handy to give it that smooth texture. Gelato cakes are a party pleasing dessert and we hope you enjoy making one of these very soon.
If you liked this post, check out our favorite Tiramisu Torte recipes post.