There’s a question that all ice cream lovers must face sometime during their on-again, off-again relationship with the frozen confection. The question is one we are ashamed to ask, but eventually have to wonder, "What the heck is gelato?"

Sure, we know it’s different. But what makes it that thick, creamy Italian delicacy we yearn for? For help solving the mystery, went to one of New York City’s resident gelato experts.

Michelle Catarata is a professional pastry chef, trained at the Institute of Culinary Education in the heart of New York City. Now her main focus is gelato. When Catarata shifted to making ice-based desserts, she took her background in baking with her. 

At Sorella and sister gelato shop, Stellina, the former pastry chef uses everything in her arsenal for inspiration. Some of her gelato flavor highlights include Brown Sugar Strawberry, S'mores and A Bee Named Elvis, which is honey gelato, banana, caramel and peanut nougats.

Catarata says she grew up watching her grandmother cook for her family in Queens, N.Y. Eventually, Catarata was allowed to help with the baking and from that moment on, she was hooked.

"I have such a high sugar tolerance," Catarata said, laughing as she explained what she liked to bake. "I’m surprised I’m not dead yet."

For now, Catarata has focused her sights on gelato. In the kitchen of a quaint, East Village restaurant, she concocts all kinds of drool-inducing creations. And even her grandmother has come to try Catarata’s inventions.

"It was one of the proudest moments of my life," she said, recounting the day her grandmother visited the gelateria. "That sounds so corny, but it’s true."

To help us crack the case behind what makes gelato, well, gelato, Catarata has chosen her signature mocha flavor. So pull out that magnifying glass, Watson, you’re about to solve one of greatest dessert mysteries ever.