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Not so vanilla: five unusual ice cream flavours to try this summer

5 unusual ice cream flavours to try this summer

by Izzy Burton Thursday, May 5, 2016

With Italy being the undisputed home of ice cream and sorbets, it seems only natural for the country's best chefs to experiment with flavours. Discover five weird and wonderful ice cream flavours to try this summer.

Izzy writes for Great British Chefs where she combines a lifetime love of food and tricolons.

As anyone who has ever stepped foot in an Italian gelateria will know, the Italians know their ice cream. The mounds of creamy gelato and vibrant sorbetto sit in rows behind well-lit counters, as crowds gather round to choose their flavours – fior di latte (plain milk or cream), gianduja (chocolate hazelnut), pistachio, stracciatella and, er, radish...

OK, so that last one isn't something you'd find in your average gelateria. Instead it represents a growing trend for experimental ice cream and sorbet flavours, serving sorbets as starters and swapping chocolate or fruit for vegetables and herbs. If you're feeling adventurous this summer leave the bacio and limone in the freezer and try one of these weird and wonderful flavours.

1 Tomato

Yes, tomatoes are technically a fruit, but the thought of sticking a scoop of tomato sorbet on the end of a cone still feels a little odd. Luckily, Igles Coreli forgoes the cone in favour of a creamy tomato risotto, with the tomato, basil and shallot sorbet adding a refreshing kick to the mound of warm rice. If you'd rather keep things light, try serving the tomato sorbet separately in shot glasses for a cooling canapé.

2 Onion

While it won't be catching on as a palate cleanser any time soon, onion ice cream done well adds class (and chutzpah) to a starter, treading the line perfectly between the sweet and savoury. Roberto Petza uses lashings of cream, milk and sugar to sweeten his onion ice cream recipe, balancing the powerful kick from the allium's natural flavour. There's more, too, with Francesco Bracali's orange, vinegar and red onion ice cream which the chef balances carefully atop a mound of eel tempura. Well, as the old saying goes, you wait all day for an onion ice cream recipe and two to come along at once.

3 Radish

Compared to carrots, parsnips and their other knobbly brothers, radishes are something of a pin up in the root vegetable world, with the blushing exterior, smooth to the touch, adding a colourful contrast to the crisp white centre. Typically, the vegetable's flavour is considerably less delicate than its appearance, making radish sorbet a fairly interesting prospect. Giuseppe di Iorio adds a handful of crushed raspberries to his, with the sharp tang of the fruit and the peppery flavour of the radish offsetting the sweetness of chocolate brownie beautifully. A great flavour for sophisticated palates.

 
 

4 Birch twig

If you're a fan of puns, Heinrich Schneider's birch twig ice cream recipe offers the perfect opportunity for you to tell your friends you've 'branched out' with flavours while winking roguishly and treating yourself to several victory laps of the room. Fortunately this striking dessert delivers on flavour, too, with the woody flavour of birch sweetened with a little honey in the ice cream mixture, served alongside a spiced cream and black bean paste.

5 Mussels

Yes, for number five we leave behind earth altogether and plunge headfirst into the sea for Daniele Usai's seafood spaghetti recipe. This dish has all the components of a really good pasta dish, with mounds of spaghetti, chilli, garlic, juicy mussels and (of course!) a quenelle of mussel sorbet. Definitely not something you'd be wanting to cover in chocolate sprinkles and a fudge stick, this sorbet is made from the leftover broth used to cook the mussels. Flavour-packed and thrifty? Its stock is rising by the minute. With very little preparation required besides churning it in an ice cream maker, be brave and give it a try next time you prepare a batch of mussels.

Try more delicious ice cream recipes

If your tastes are a little more vanilla than birch twig and radish, fear not – we have plenty of other ice cream recipes to try. From a sophisticated Dark chocolate gelato recipe to vibrant strawberry sorbet, there's no excuse to leave your freezer empty this summer.

 
 
 

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