What’s Up With All the Different Frozen Treats?

It’s been ridiculously hot these past 2 weeks. And I can’t think of a better way to cool off than strolling through the ice cream aisle at the grocery store. Normally, I go straight for ice cream. But lately, I feel I’ve been a little inundated with the various amounts of cold sugary goodness available and with all the recent frozen yogurt shops sprouting up around town. So what exactly is the difference between all the different varieties?

Let’s start with the traditional ice cream. This is pretty much what I remember from my childhood – tubs of Edy’s and Breyer’s sitting in the freezer just calling my name! And like the title implies, this frozen concoction is made with dairy products, milk and cream. If anyone has ventured to make ice cream at home, you know that the best way to get that smooth creamy consistency is to slowly stir the mixture as it cools. The best varieties of ice cream are the kind made with real sugar and all natural ingredients, in my opinion anyway.

So how then does ice cream differ from frozen custard? For anyone who is an avid baker, you know that custard is made with eggs. Same goes for frozen custard. It has similar ingredients to ice cream – cream and sugar – and eggs as the additional ingredients. Other than that one additional ingredient, frozen custard is pretty much the same as ice cream and has the same consistency and creaminess.

Next up, we have frozen yogurt, otherwise known as fro yo. There’s a plethora of frozen yogurt shops opening up around town, Red Mango, Tangy Sweet and Pinkberry just to name a few. I think the healthy factor of these frozen treats is what makes it so appealing to the masses. As the name indicates, it’s made from yogurt, and with milk instead of cream. These two ingredients do mean that frozen yogurt contains less fat than ice cream. As far as taste, it is tarter due to the yogurt. The trend nowadays is to get the frozen yogurt as a base and add a variety of toppings to give the yogurt more flavor and texture. My favorite combo is regular froyo with fresh mango or pineapple and some granola sprinkled on top!

As we move further away from the traditional ice cream, there are 2 more frozen delights that have tempted me: sherbet and sorbet. Sherbet is made with fruit juice, sugar and milk or eggs. This is pretty different from ice cream, in both consistency and flavor. Because of the fruit juice, it has a much fruitier flavor and lacks the creaminess found in ice cream. The texture is still very smooth though and a good sherbet will have a great intense fruit flavor. Sorbet is very similar to sherbet, but does not contain any dairy products. Instead, it’s just fruit juice or fruit puree and water. And since it’s not whipped, it has a very dense texture and powerful but clean flavors. Sorbet is a great low fat alternative to ice cream and serves as a superb palate cleanser between meals.

So now, hopefully, when you grab for that frozen delight to beat this DC heat, you’ll know exactly what ingredients your frozen treat contains.

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