Soft, delicate, creamy gelato from Gelateria 3BIS
One of the best ways to describe panna cotta to the uninitiated is ‘gelato in reverse’. Instead of being frozen, the milk, cream and sugar are heated. Instead of being flavoured with an infinite variety of fruits, nuts, sweets and chocolates, for Italians panna cotta is something for purists: it’s vanilla, or it’s not at all.
This initially makes the combination of panna cotta and gelato slightly counterintuitive. Not only do they seem in principle to contradict each other, but they are both desserts in their own right—and very good ones for that matter. “I love panna cotta. It’s one of my favourite desserts,” says Ciara of Gelateria 3BIS, “but it makes for very good gelato. It’s caramel mixed with cream, milk and sugar—the components of the classic Italian dessert.”
Soft, delicate creaminess
Of course, when you put it like that, it’s a different ball of gelato—and the flavour, when we get hold of our cone, does not disappoint. While the texture represents something akin to mascarpone gelato (another celebrated flavour) the flavour is less tangy—more soft, delicate creaminess, pierced through with the burnt sugar taste of dark caramel streaks.
“It is very popular: only the cookie and peanut butter flavours sell more,” Ciara continues. “We make a big batch fresh each morning.” It’s rich enough as it is (and, being purists, we like the singularity of panna cotta) but if you want a pair, you couldn’t go wrong with Ciara’s number one flavour: “Dark, dark chocolate.”