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What’s the difference between Gelato and Ice Cream?

An ice cream tour at La Cremosa

Dainfern is a long way to drive from Benoni. But the prospect of finding out exactly how gelato is made was incentive enough for this foodie.

La Cremosa is a relatively well-known brand in Johannesburg. They opened their first store in Dainfern in 2016. They now have a store in Melrose Arch as well as Pietermaritzburg. The Brand was started by 3 friends, David, Sandro and Mauro, thanks to more than 40 years of experience of David’s family in the gelato business at La Fonte della Salute in Trastevere, Rome. The 3 friends decided to bring to South Africa a piece of Italy, starting a brand new company with the goal of making the best artisan ice cream around.

When you taste their gelato you will understand why this is no ordinary ice cream and will come to appreciate the real difference between ice cream and gelato. At the crux of it, it’s all about density. Ice cream contains about 40-50% of air whereas Gelato contains only 20% air. That is why one scoop of gelato can be so much more satisfying than 2 scoops of ice cream.

La Cremosa invited me to come and see just how their gelato is made at their Dainfern store. The store located at the Dainfern Square Shopping Centre is small but the process of making the ice cream is so simple using a surprisingly compact industrial ice cream machine.

Bright has been with La Cremosa for 4 years and expertly took me through the whole process. The ingredients used are few and gratifyingly all natural with no preservatives, flavourants or colourants. Only real nuts and real fruit. We were to make a hazelnut gelato from scratch. Only one of my favourite flavours. It’s like they read my mind.

The Process

The La Cremosa process, while rooted in a family recipe is carefully controlled by a computer process. Ingredients are measured and weighed and can be adjusted up or down using the software specifically for this process.

First Bright mixed up the cream base, a simple mix of skimmed milk powder, whey protein, sugar, Xantham Gum which is a thickener and stabiliser often used in gluten free cooking and baking. To this he added fresh milk and then poured the mixture into the pasturiser section of the industrial ice cream maker along with with butter. The reason for pasturisation is to kill any harmful bacteria that may be lurking in the milk.

While pasteurisation was taking place, Bright revealed a huge bowl of hazelnuts that had been pre-roasted to release their flavour. He poured the nuts into a high-speed blender and within just a few minutes the small space was filled with the toastiest aromatic smell of a smooth hazelnut paste. After the mixture was pasteurised it was poured out into a stainless steel bucket and the deep brown liquid gold was added. This was then poured into the churning and cooling section of the machine to be turned into frozen happiness.

While the machine churned away I got to taste some of the delicious flavours of gelato and sorbet that were on offer. Their flavours are always seasonal and use fresh ingredients. The strawberry and the kiwi sorbets really stood out for me. There was Pineapple and Butter Pecan gelato which was lovely. And the pistachio and chocolate were simply amazing. But of course the hazelnut stole the show. Perhaps because it was freshly made, or perhaps because I felt involved in the making… But the creaminess of the gelato and intense nutty flavour had me almost swooning. I am a fussy ice cream eater and I have to admit that this is defintely the finest gelato I have had in Jozi yet.

Their branches are halaal certified. All their flavours are gluten-free except for the cookies and cream. They also serve coffee, an amazing Belgian waffle, gluten-free brownies, cookies and ice cream cakes. Pro tip: you can ask for your hot chocolate to be made with actual chocolate instead of the powder mix. Though Nothando tells me the powder mix is nicer in her opinion. She is the soul who does all the baking in the shop from scratch.

La Cremosa is most aptly described as a little shop of happiness, evident from the broad smiles of people who came and left happily with treats in hand during the time I spent there.

Find more details at:
La Cremosa, Dainfern
La Cremosa, Melrose Arch
La Cremosa, Pietermaritzburg

Note: Masks were only removed while taking photos.

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