Seek Out Fior Di Latte For The Creamiest Possible Gelato

There's no such thing as terrible gelato, but there is one flavor that seems to put all others to shame with its sheer simplicity. Totally unassuming, gelato al fior di latte doesn't consist of a long list of ingredients, nor does it boast eye-catching colors. However, the real magic of the porcelain-hued gelato is in its delicate flavor, and (even more so) in its especially luxurious texture.

A direct translation from Italian, meaning "flower of milk," fior di latte (also commonly written as fiordilatte) is the epitome of gelato. Between its delectable milkiness and its oh-so-dreamy consistency, gelato al fior di latte achieves what plain old ice cream can only strive to do. With a higher milk to cream content, pared down ingredient list, and the right techniques that produce an almost buttery yet light mouthfeel, fior di latte promises decadence in a sophisticated way. Just one taste will make you rethink everything you know about gelato, inspiring you to seek out fior di latte whenever you're craving the creamiest of gelati.

The delicious history behind fior di latte

While it's true that icy treats date back tens of thousands of years, gelato as we recognize it today can actually be traced back to the Italian Renaissance. Originally crafted by the hands of Cosimo Ruggieri, the alchemist-turned-culinarian is believed to have first served the chilled and sweetened cow's milk. While some say the creation came to be following a competition hosted by Florence's noble Medici family to find the most unique dish ever seen, others believe that it was instead crafted for Catherine de Medici's wedding to Henri d'Orleans of France. Regardless of the occasion, gelato al fior di latte saw instant success, inspiring one gastronome after the next, including the architect Bernardo Buontalenti who went on to develop his own custard-based recipe.

Like an homage to Italian tradition, fior di latte is one flavor that's a staple in any gelateria. But, beyond its devoted Italian clientele, the flavor is even starting to see popularity abroad. With vanilla crops in decline, many ice cream lovers are looking to fill the void with fior di latte, its mild flavor offering a similar yet intriguing twist on classic vanilla ice cream — just don't get the two confused.

Making fior di latte gelato

Despite the fact that there is no record of Ruggieri's original recipe, most gelato artisans can deduce that fior di latte was (and remains to be) made from just milk, cream, and sugar. Evidently, given its extremely limited ingredient list, the use of high quality ingredients is a must. Locally-sourced and grass-fed dairy is ideal to ensure that milk and cream will be fresh, flavorful, and super smooth. Likewise, all dairy should be full-fat in order to deliver on its iconic, full-bodied richness. As for the sugar, forgo any sweeteners and opt for granulated white sugar that's been finely ground for better diffusion into the dairy mixture.

Once ingredients are selected, rather than simply adding everything into a mixer and freezing it, the process is a bit more complex. First, the sugar must be dissolved into the milk over low heat. After several minutes, the sweetened milk can be removed from the burner and the cream can be carefully whisked in. Once the mixture has cooled in the refrigerator for a few hours, it can be added to an ice cream machine where it should slowly churn until fluffy. Then and only then, the gelato can be transferred to the freezer for at least a couple of hours to set before gelato al fior di latte can finally be enjoyed, which brings us to our next point.

How to best enjoy fior di latte

With an overwhelmingly prominent flavor of fresh milk, gelato al fior di latte is quite basic, but in the best way possible. With nothing to hide behind, the ingredients speak for themselves, demonstrating that behind the bare bones, pure-tasting, and ultimately clean gelato flavor is a subtle sweetness with delicate floral notes. Balanced and mild, the most remarkable element of this treat is its unmistakably silky texture. Creamy fior di latte tastes and feels on the palate exactly as a good gelato should: smooth and velvety.

Best enjoyed shortly after it is made — although we doubt that a gelato this good has the time to become freezer-burnt — fior di latte really hits its peak when softened slightly before serving. That said, while gelato al fior di latte is best enjoyed on its own, leaving all of its complexities and nuances to be noticed by trained taste buds, that doesn't mean it won't benefit from any accompaniments. In fact, consider fior di latte like a base for all other gelato flavors, as it lends itself so easily to being mixed with fruit, chocolate, nuts, and even spices. Evidently, just about any ingredient can fare equally well as a topping, whether that be fruity syrups, crushed bits of meringue, or a shot of espresso. Are you drooling yet?

Tips for buying true fior di latte gelato

Unless you're traveling through Italy, finding fior di latte may be easier said than done, however, it isn't impossible. You actually have options; the first is to seek out gelato shops and Italian restaurants serving the flavor. Alternatively, you could go hunting for pints at niche retailers that specialize in imported goods. With popularity for the Italian specialty rising, you might even find authentic fior di latte (or a locally made version) at a grocery store near you.

If you manage to track down a pint, don't start celebrating until you've read the labels. While terms such as artisanal might seem like a green flag, the ingredients list will give you a better sense of whether you've found the real thing or a fraudulent imposter. As a result, pints with endless ingredients or additions like emulsifiers, powders, and oils should be avoided. Additionally, if vanilla (artificial or bean flecks) is listed as one of the ingredients, this is another clear indicator that the frozen treat in your hands is not real-deal fior di latte, but vanilla-flavored gelato instead.

What are you waiting for? Let the search for fior di latte gelato begin!