We All Scream . . . For Gelato! Morgan Morano’s Journey to Sweet Success
Morgan Morano, of the widely acclaimed Morano Gelato in Hanover, has a sweet tooth. Ever since she was little, Morgan has loved sweets of any kind; from Sour Patch Kids to French pastries, Morgan says she can’t get enough. Lucky for all of us in the Upper Valley, Morgan’s dessert cravings have translated into an authentic Italian gelateria.
Morgan’s career in frozen dairy desserts began long before Morano Gelato was ever considered. She began making ice cream as early as her college years. Even in culinary school, Morgan had a fixation for desserts and pastries. But it wasn’t until she studied abroad in Italy that she discovered the wonders of gelato. Under her Sicilian chef and mentor, Morgan began to develop a taste for really good gelato, made with the best quality ingredients and the most artful of flavor combinations. Of proper gelato-making technique, Morgan says, “It’s certainly a lost art in Italy—and even more so in America.” Today, Morgan’s artisanal gelatos are crafted with her own personal recipes. She combines traditional Italian gelato techniques with American ice cream making skills that she learned in culinary school in New York. Her gelato is therefore different from any gelato that you could buy in Italy or in the US, and it’s even distinct from that of her Sicilian mentor.
Morano gelato flavors, too, are one of a kind. While many of her combinations are inspired by gelatos in Italy or Sicily, Morgan experiments with her machine to create recipes all her own. In fact, she even has her own gelato recipe journal, which holds all her creations safely away from prying eyes (gelato recipes are highly guarded and sought after). The gelato case holds thirteen varieties, all made fresh daily. The case always features classics like hazelnut, milk chocolate, sweet cream, and stracciatella. You can also find fruit flavors, ranging from local strawberry and raspberry to mango, passion fruit, kiwi, and banana. And if that’s not enough to tickle your taste buds, try something even more exotic, like rose, fig and honey, tiramisu, limoncello, or ricotta pear—no two days present the same set of flavors in the display case. If you’re daring, go for spicy dark chocolate with red pepper—take a bite, and then wait for the bite. That’s what is so exciting about eating (and making) gelato: prepare to taste the unexpected. Perhaps even more fun than sampling every flavor is experimenting in creating the flavors, which Morgan does on a regular basis. “It’s a great canvas . . . I could make any flavor. I’m just very particular, and I think that’s what makes the shop special. I don’t give in to doing peanut butter, Oreo, and Snickers, which everybody else is doing.” Morgan’s flavors are culinary masterpieces, and they set her apart as a gelato chef. And while Morgan loves, and samples, all her flavors, she admits that at the end of the day, she’ll have dark chocolate above everything else.
Another aspect of Morgan’s craft that sets her apart is her locally sourced ingredients. You won’t find any packaged flavor mixes or syrups here (that is, except for Grade A Pure Vermont Maple syrup). All the dairy used in Morano products is from McNamara Farm in Plainfield, New Hampshire, which Morgan believes is what makes her gelato so creamy. Edgewater Farm provides fruit such as cantaloupe, strawberries, and raspberries to be whipped into gelato, semifreddo, and sorbet. She features other local products like Vermont honey and Red Kite Candy caramel in her production as well.
While Morgan is grateful for her store and all who have mentored and helped her along the way, it hasn’t been all buttercream and Nutella. The first step was familiarizing Upper Valley residents with true gelato. Many Americans have been fed the notion that certain offshoots of ice cream are gelato, but real gelato has a completely different chemistry. Morgan had to educate her customers to the quality of her product, as well as its uniqueness in the world of frozen dairy desserts. “To me, it’s the ultimate frozen dessert,” says Morgan, but many in the Upper Valley were gelato virgins before the advent of Morano. Now, however, we can’t get enough! Morgan expanded her store in 2011 to meet the growing popularity of her products, and she has tentative plans for the opening of more stores in the future. For now though, we’ll take a baccio (chocolate hazelnut “kiss”) gelato on our way home from work, after a movie at the Nugget, before a movie at the Nugget, or generally any time of day. As for those who believe that they have to travel to Italy to get authentic gelato, let them eat the touristy stuff. That just means more Morano gelato for us.
What is your favorite Morano gelato flavor?