It’s not just a delicious gelato!
Listen to this week’s podcast episode to find out about three versions of “straciatella” that are completely unrelated. There’s stracciatella gelato, straciatella soup and straciatella cheese. I haven’t tried the soup but I’m a fan of the others.
I also chat about the etymology of the word, how burrata is made, Italy’s best sandwich biscuits and more.
This little dive into stracciatella came about because I was invited to the launch of Pierre Marcolini’s summer collection of chocolates, ice cream, macarons and biscuits. The theme for the chocolates and ice cream is “La Vita e Straciatella” and the chocolate have three leaves of tempered chocolate separated by ganache and a praline base, designed to give you the crack of slivered chocolate you get from straciatella gelato. The flavours are summery and gelato-esque, too.
My favourite of the chocolates was the passionfruit and orange blossom.
My favourite of all the new products was the “Baci di Dama” biscuits. I also talk about the origin of these in the podcast, too.
You can get all of these products online at PierreMarcolini.com or in their Marylebone store or in Harrods.
If you prefer you can read the transcript below!
Read the transcript of Episode 21 where Jen chats about stracciatella, Italian biscuits and the Pierre Marcolini summer range:
[00:00:00] Hello, and welcome to The Next Delicious Thing. Your weekly podcast, where I update you on all the delights of London’s food scene, along with some kooky facts that you didn’t know, you needed to know. I’m Jennifer Earle, I’m a former Food Buyer and Food Developer. I’m the founder of Chocolate Ecstasy Tours and generally a greedy person
[00:00:22] Did, you know, there are three types of stracciatella? I didn’t. I knew there were two, but not three.
[00:00:29] And there are three completely different Italian foods with this name. I’m going to tell you more about it. The reason that I know this is because I attended the launch of Pierre Marcolini’s summer chocolate range, including ice cream and cookies.
[00:00:43] And that sent me down a rabbit hole because the name of the collection is La Vita e stracciatella. I thought, “What does stracciatella even mean?” And then when I started trying to find out, I discovered there are three different Italian foods with that name.
[00:01:01] I’m gonna tell you more about this. And also, now I can tell you how to make burrata.
[00:01:06] I’m going to tell you about the Italian Oreo cookie, which isn’t really an Oreo, but apparently it’s as popular as Oreos are in the US. And I also went to Towpath on the canal in Hackney for breakfast and. I want to share that place with you. I’m sure you know it already, but if not, then you should.
[00:01:26] I had a delicious dinner at Ottolenghi and I have a very niche recommendation for you. If you happen to need a celebration cake, particularly for a children’s party in east London. The good news is that the Pierre Marcolini chocolates and treats can be purchased online. And if you can’t make it too Hackney, the Towpath women have an incredible book, so you can make their delicious food wherever you are in the world.
[00:01:54] You might know the Italian gelato, which is a fior de latte. So milk based gelato or ice cream, if you watched the previous episode, you’ll know the difference and it has shards of broken up dark chocolate all the way through it.
[00:02:13] So, how this is made: while the gelato mixture is freezing, they pour liquid hot chocolate into the mix and it sets immediately. And because it’s churning, it gets broken up into lots of tiny, tiny little shards, little pieces.
[00:02:28] That’s how you can get proper chocolate in ice cream. If you like chocolate chip ice cream, then this chocolate is going to be made with coconut oil rather than cocoa butter.
[00:02:40] If you have chocolate with cocoa butter it basically becomes like tiny little rocks when it is at minus 18 or anything below zero.
[00:02:51] I once attempted to climb Mount Kilamanjaro and seriously regretted taking 70% chocolate up the mountain because chocolate melts at body temperature and my body was not even at body temperature. So when I put the piece of chocolate in my mouth, it was like having a piece of plastic and couldn’t. It couldn’t , it took so long to get it to melt and it tasted like you couldn’t taste any sugar. So you probably also know this, that the further things are away from room temperature, the less sweet they will taste.
[00:03:22] So if you have Coca-Cola straight from the fridge versus warm and then warm, it tastes like syrup straight from the fridge. It tastes like how it’s supposed to taste, but still has the sickly, syrupy amount of sugar.
[00:03:37] Anyway, I digress. We were talking about stracciatella. So stracciatella comes from the Italian verb stracciare which means to shred.
[00:03:47] And you might notice that straciatella, tagliatella, mozzarella… the “ella” suffix- I checked this with an Italian friend- isn’t really like a known thing that you get taught in grammar, but it does often happen to foods. They take a verb like stracciare to shred and add Ella, and then it becomes a food. So I’m gonna talk to you about the three foods.
[00:04:09] So apart from gelato, there’s two others. Just in case you’re curious, Tagliatella: Taglia is “to cut” and for mozzarella, it also means to cut, but cut to cut by hand, and I’m going to come back to mozzarella because it’s an important part of our story. Stracciatella is shreds of mozzarella, which are stirred with cream.
[00:04:34] And burrata, proper burrata, is where you knead the mozzarella cheese into a flat disc. And then you take the shreds of mozzarella, stir them with cream, put them in the center, then you bowl it up. Um, so like a dumpling and then twist it. At the top, so that seals it all together. You drop it into ice water and then it will kind of firm up.
[00:04:56] And so when you cut into proper burrata, which is [00:05:00] traditionally made with Buffalo milk, then it will all ooze out and just be incredibly amazing. These are fresh cheeses. So, well, traditionally, should be fresh cheeses. If you are buying them or making them, they really shouldn’t last more than a couple of days.
[00:05:18] That’s why it’s like really great to get them in good restaurants, but often what you see sold as burrata in supermarkets. It’s not really the same thing. If you cut it through and it just goes straight through, that’s basically just mozzarella, still delicious, but not, not burrata and not stracciatella.
[00:05:38] The third stracciatella is a soup. It’s a Roman soup and it’s a hot broth where raw egg is broken into the broth. Then it’s stirred. And again, because you’re stirring at the same time, the eggs starts to cook in the hot liquid and it breaks up into shreds, more shreds. So three things they have in common, they are all shreds.
[00:06:01] But apart from that, nothing, nothing else. The stracciatella gelato was made by a man called Enrico Pannatoni who owned a gelateria in Northern Italy. And upstairs from that, he also had a Tuscan restaurant. So he made this stracciatella soup and he somehow came up with the idea that to put liquid chocolate in and stir it you’d end up breaking it up the same way that you do the egg in the soup.
[00:06:30] So that was in 1961 and now it’s one of the most popular flavors in Italy.
[00:06:36] Ok, so back to the product that inspired this dive into what exactly stracciatella means. This is Pierre Marcolini’s summer range of chocolate inspired by stracciatella. The idea is that the shards of chocolate that you get in the ice cream, he has created here. So. This, there are three leaves of chocolate. So these are called Les Ganaches Fuilleteés.
[00:07:04] In French this is referring to the leaf. And so these are leaves of chocolate. So you also get feuilletine, which is the crepe kind of wafer or, you know, Mille Feuille, which is also a thousand leaves. The idea is just very thin crunchy. And so each of these chocolates has three leaves of chocolate and three layers of ganache.
[00:07:27] And the base is a praline, a crunchy praline with cocoa nibs. So the flavors of these Ganaches Feuilleteés: there are six. All very summary. You have yuzu and verbena in white chocolate with dark chocolate leaves. That’s this first one I was showing you. You have vanilla with Timut pepper, with dark chocolate leaves. I’m gonna come back and tell you more about Timut pepper in a second.
[00:07:55] Citron, sorry, lemon and bergamot with milk, chocolate ganache and white chocolate leaves. This is my favorite, the passion fruit, which is passion fruit and orange blossom, milk chocolate, milk chocolate leaves; yuzu and mandarin: milk chocolate with dark chocolate leaves and the Citron Vert, which is coconut and lime with white chocolate ganache and white chocolate leaves.
[00:08:28] So they were delicious. As you can see if you’re watching online, but, if you’re listening, go to thenextdeliciousthing.com and I will have photographs, but they’re not coated in chocolate on the outside. So you just have these three layers that give you the crunch, the way that a typical ganache: you’d have the crunch on the outside, where the coating of chocolate, but this time you get three layers.
[00:08:46] So it’s like “dududududu”, it’s very, um, they’re very cool. And the crunch of the praline, like I said, most of them have white chocolate in them. And then you have the vanilla one. So it’s all kind of fresh and summery.
[00:08:56] Timut pepper is not technically a peppercorn. It’s related to Szechuan pepper. So it has the slightly numbing effect and the tree it grows on is sometimes referred to as toothache tree, because it can be used to numb tooth pain.
[00:09:13] Anything helps when you’re desperate. It’s has kind of a slightly citrus note to it as well so it’s great flavored in the chocolate. It’s really subtle. I’m not sure that you’d necessarily be able to pick it up in this vanilla chocolate, but, um, yeah, it’s a cool ingredient through playing with, and it is native to the Himalayas.
[00:09:31] My favorite product from the new collection. So there’s also ice cream, which has like a disc of chocolate on the top. And some macarons, but my favorite is the Baci di Dama which translates to “a lady’s kiss”. And the bat Dalma is. The Italian Oreo. So it is a very proud product for Italy, and it even has a protected designation from the region of Piemont where it’s [00:10:00] from, because they are hazelnut biscuits and Piemont is the most famous and well known place for making the best hazelnuts in the world.
[00:10:07] That is where Nutella is from. When there was a cocoa shortage in the mid 20th century – that was obviously a horrible, horrible thing to think about. They decided to lengthen out the chocolate with their local hazelnuts and making gianduja. So gianduja is traditionally hazelnuts ground in with the chocolate so you get like a smooth paste and typically it’s left uncoated, so you just eat pieces of this chocolate hazelnut praline. Nutella is where you add a ton of vegetable oil and sugar to that mixture and then you can spread it on your toast. So the Baci di Dama are a Hazel up biscuit sandwich together with chocolate.
[00:10:47] So the idea is like the two biscuits are kissing and they held together by chocolate .Way, way better than, Oreos. My controversial opinion: Oreos are not very good. Sorry. I wonder how many of you are going to stop watching now that I’ve said that?
[00:11:03] I get, if you like the nostalgia.
[00:11:07] When I visited Bergamo, the place that stracciatella was invented. I walked past a bakery and saw this amazing looking sandwich cookie that looked like a peach and it was called pesche, which is peach in Italian. Sorry if I’ve not pronounced it correctly. It even had like this pink blush to it. And so I bought it because I was really excited to try a peach flavoured biscuit. Turns out: it’s not peach flavoured, traditionally. Sometimes you’ll find them with peach conserve in the sandwich part in the filling part, but traditionally they are a biscuit made with flour, oil, sugar and eggs, and then just sandwiched together with like a custardy cream.
[00:11:44] The peach name is just from the appearance. They tend to be dipped in a red food coloring. Sometimes that red food coloring is mixed with peach Brandy though. So you do have like some kind of peach note to it, but they don’t teach peachy, like I was really hoping for. They’re often decorated with the leaves of peaches as well. And they are served at weddings. It’s a traditional wedding cookie.
[00:12:08] Those are also available online. They were so good. I think you’re probably gathering that. I’m a very big biscuit fan.
[00:12:14] If you are in London and want to try really good stracciatella, then I highly recommend Gelatorino, which is on my Ice Cream Tour of which we have another date added to the diary, the 24th of July. It’s a Sunday. There’s a couple of spots. If you want to come along. At Gelatorino, we taste their stracciatella, which is made with Demori chocolate, an award-winning Italian chocolate.
[00:12:37] And there you can actually watch the ice cream being made -or gelato. It’s one of the few places in London where you can see it on site, that they have the top loading gelato machines and they pour the chocolate. If you’re lucky to be there at the right time, you can see them pouring this liquid chocolate in and stirring watching it all break up into these tiny shreds.
[00:12:55] They also like then have to scoop it out with this incredible trowel-like thing. Excellent gelato so definitely worth visiting there.
The London gelato recommendation for straciatella is Gelatorino. They also have a store in Monte Carlo. Bon Appetito!