Ice, ice, baby: Comparing the calorie counts of frozen desserts

A monster- shaped gelato with candy eyes from Eyescream And Friends, and a choco soft-serve from Matchaya.
A monster- shaped gelato with candy eyes from Eyescream And Friends, and a choco soft-serve from Matchaya.PHOTOS: COURTESY OF DESIREE HO AND KAMMY CHONG

Before you order a double scoop, here is a guide on how the various types of frozen dessert stack up, in terms of fat content and other key characteristics.

ICE CREAM (OR FROZEN CUSTARD) V GELATO

To be designated as ice cream, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stipulates that the product has to contain at least 10 per cent fat.

And if it has more than 1.4 per cent egg yolk, it can be called frozen custard, French ice cream or French custard ice cream.

Gelato (Italian for "frozen") is more dense - there is less air whipped into it as it is churned.

Typically, gelato has less fat than ice cream, as it is often milk-based - instead of cream - and contains little or no egg yolk.

A monster- shaped gelato with candy eyes from Eyescream And Friends, and a choco soft-serve from Matchaya.
A monster- shaped gelato with candy eyes from Eyescream And Friends, and a choco soft-serve from Matchaya. PHOTO: COURTESY OF DESIREE HO AND KAMMY CHONG

SOFT-SERVE V FRO-YO

That swirly, old-time favourite known as soft-serve contains between 3 per cent and 6 per cent fat. Some manufacturers may push the fat up to as high as 10 to 12 per cent.

The fat content in fro-yo, short for frozen yogurt, can vary, depending on whether regular, low-fat or non-fat yogurt is used.

When served straight from the churning machines, soft-serve and fro-yo have soft, airy swirls.

ICE MILK V LOW-FAT ICE CREAM

Ice milk contains less than 10 per cent fat. As it is fresh from the freezer, it tends to be rather hard and have a few icy particles.

However, it is no longer called ice milk. In 1994, the FDA allowed manufacturers to label it as low-fat ice cream and the name has stuck.

Low-fat ice cream has stabilisers and additives that mimic the mouth feel of high-fat ice cream.

SORBET V ITALIAN ICE

Sorbet can be made with practically anything - fruit, vegetables and chocolate - but it almost always lacks dairy and egg products.

Its ideal texture is smooth and mostly free of icy shards.

Fruit-based Italian ice is similar in texture to a slushy that has been frozen - it has an icy crispness.

However, store-bought brands are packed into small containers and frozen solid.

SHERBET V SHERBERT

Linguist Dan Jurafsky writes in his 2014 book, The Language Of Food, that the name sherbet originates from the Arabic word sharab, the name for fruit syrups consumed for health and refreshment.

In Persia, syrups made from orange blossoms and sour cherries were called sharbat.

In Turkey, it is known as serbet, which comes from the same Arabic word.

Sherbert is actually the same thing.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary notes in a blog-post that when the word was added to the English language in the early 17th century, the extra "r" crept in and it is now an accepted way of spelling and pronouncing it.

By FDA standards, sherbe(r)t must contain between 1 and 2 per cent fat.

THE WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 04, 2017, with the headline 'Ice, ice, baby'. Print Edition | Subscribe