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Entries in ice cream (38)


I'm Smitten: Smitten Ice Cream, San Francisco

Smitten Ice Cream should receive a badge for "Very Adorably Named Ice Cream Establishment".

But should they receive a badge for "Extremely Delicious Product"?

Yes, yes, yes. I had the pleasure of visiting this establishment, in Hayes Valley, San Francisco, yesterday, with my friends Phil and Matt. We had some time to kill before seeing Tales Of The City, the Musical (no, really) so we decided to spend it carb-o-loading. 

Smitten is a sort of semi-permanent pop-up establishment made, strangely but delightfully, out of a recycled shipping container, and they make your ice cream to order.

We chose the "always available" flavor entitled TCHO 60.5% Dark Chocolate. We declined the offers to "Make it “hot” chocolate?" by adding candied jalapeño or topping it with coconut brittle, although they were very enticing.

Now, you have to have a few minutes to spend here, because they basically make the ice cream to order. It's true:

In the pursuit of creating better ice cream, Robyn Sue Goldman spent two years developing a one-of-a-kind ice cream machine, now named “Kelvin.” Kelvin’s uniqueness stems from its ability to make the smoothest, tastiest ice cream from scratch in 60 seconds. How? Kelvin runs on liquid nitrogen.  

Kelvin the machine takes a few minutes, but ultimately you're rewarded: this chocolate ice cream was not so much ice cream as like eating a melted, creamy chocolate truffle. And I mean this in a good way. It was extremely thick and very flavorful, and tasted like it was the opposite of low-fat. That is to say, awesome.

Worth a visit, but be warned that if there is a line, you're in for a serious wait. Sweet tip: a local told us that the other pop-up establishment sharing the recycling container, Ritual Coffee Roasters, has a "killer caramelized macaroon".

Smitten Ice Cream, 432 Octavia Street, San Francisco. Online here.


Shake Me Up: Booze Shakes from Jimmy's in Brooklyn

So you've decided to go on a liquid diet, you know, to rid yourself of all of those toxins?

Don't despair, I've found something that you can suck through a straw instead of chew (and that makes it pretty healthy, I think): Booze Shakes from Jimmy's in the Williamsburg environs of Brooklyn.

You heard me. Booze shakes.

On their southern comfort food menu, there is a section dedicated to their shakes; on a board on the wall, it said “ask about our booze shakes”. Well, naturally we did, and it didn't take long for them to talk us into a White Russian Shake (not on the menu, but it was our waitress's first suggestion).

Like, OMG. 

Probably the creamiest, dreamiest thing you've ever tasted, the irish cream paired with ice cream was like a portal into the land of total decadence, with a boozy underbite which kept it from being too sweet, but (fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you want to look at it) made it go down very easily and quickly. On this visit, Cake Gumshoe Mariah enjoyed ours with two straws along with a plate of sweet potato fries for the ultimate sweet and salty indulgence; a warning to drink slowly is in effect if you're not sharing, at least if it's as stiff as the one we got.

Jimmy's also boasts a rotating menu of desserts (Key Lime pie on the day of our visit, cobblers, pies, and various other items have been on offer in recent past); well worth a visit for fatty food and sweet treats.

Jimmy's, 577 Union Street, Brooklyn, NY. More info here.


Sweet Fusion: Easter Candy Choco Taco Plate Recipe for Serious Eats

It's true, I am a genius.What happens when you combine Easter Candy with a Choco Taco?

Nothing good, that's what. Instead, you have something great. This Easter-themed "taco plate" is fusion at its best, with sweet "tacos" filled with ice cream and all manner of pastel sweets, topped with green-tinted shredded coconut which simultaneously mimics Easter basket grass and shredded lettuce. Bonus points if you serve it up with a side of "rice and beans"—rice pudding studded with jelly beans, of course.

For the full entry and recipe, visit Serious Eats!


Just Ducky: Mallard Ice Cream, Bellingham WA

Ice cream is not my kryptonite.

Don't get me wrong, I like ice cream. But it's usually something that I enjoy along with a baked good: cake or pie a la mode. But for whatever reason, while making a trek to Bellingham to deliver artwork for my solo show at The Paperdoll, with about 43 miles to go to Bellingham, I got an odd craving for the cool and creamy stuff.

Happily, I was headed into good hands: Bellingham boasts Mallard ice cream, the type of place that locals love and others will travel especially to taste. In fact, while paying the parking meter outside, I heard no less than three people walk by and remark "I love this place!".

When it came to choosing, I evaluated the choices carefully. They had a variety of flavors, including classics, unexpected twists, and even vegan flavors. They also had a pony on the wall, which was slightly distracting (in a good way).

Ultimately I settled on a childhood staple: Oreo Mint. 

It wasn't green (I do love me some green ice cream) but I was able to forgive them, because it was very, very good. The ice cream was rich, luxuriant, and very creamy; the mintiness was ably backed by the creamy cookies which were mashed up this way and that, with plenty of sizeable chunks rendered soft and lick-able by virtue of being surrounded by ice cream.

While standing outside with my cone, no less than three more people stopped to commend me on my good choice, saying "I Love that place.".

Well, I can see why.

Visit them next time you're in Bellingham. 1323 Railroad Ave, Bellingham, WA; online here.

Mallard Ice Cream on Urbanspoon


Shake it: Girl Scout Cookie Milkshake Challenge

Today, we're going to talk about a very important subject: which Girl Scout Cookie tastes best when mashed up in milkshake form?

Seriously, this is no lightweight subject. The thing is, we all have our Girl Scout Cookie preferences. But ice cream adds in a whole new texture and taste sensation. How would your favorite react to smooth, dreamy ice cream? Would the flavor hold up? Be improved? Or would it be dulled by the rich, dreamy, creamy stuff?

Only one way to find out. Break out the mixer, baby.

That's right: it's time for a Girl Scout Cookie Milkshake Challenge. Armed with most (but not all) of the cookie flavors, I set out to see which treat would make for the sweetest shake:

To keep the playing field level, I made each shake in the same way: two large scoops of vanilla ice cream, four Girl Scout Cookies, and cream to thin. 

After the batch was prepared, each was sipped and judged on texture, taste, and was assigned some overall thoughts. Here goes:

Lemon Chalet Milkshake:

Taste: Cool and creamy, and very refreshing. Lightly lemony, but more sweet than tart.

Texture: The cookies broke up fairly smoothly into this shake, and the cream filling was reduced to tiny sugarbombs of flavor. These little bombs of sugar were quite pleasant.

Overall thoughts: This cookie was definitely improved by being served in milkshake form. 

Samoas Milkshake:

Taste: The shake took on a nice, chocolatey-caramel flavor from the cookies; the coconut didn't break up very well, though, so the coconut flavor wasn't very well diffused in the shake. All the same, this did not stop it from being gulped right up.

Texture: Alas, the texture was ever so slightly distracting on this shake. The coconut didn't break up very well at all, and was sort of clumpy in the shake.

Overall Thoughts: Good--solidly good. But the texture kept it from being great.


Tagalongs Milkshake:

Taste: The chocolate added a great flavor to this shake, and the peanut butter added not a shriek but a whisper of flavor, adding a nice, rich, rounded-out flavor to the creamy vanilla ice cream. It didn't have a chocolate peanut butter cup flavor per se, but came across more like a chocolate shake with a certain je ne sais quoi.

Texture: This cookie worked very nicely in shake form; it broke up evenly, with some little lumps remaining, but they were consistent in texture and were quite nice to chew on as they became saturated with ice cream.

Overall Thoughts: Definitely a top contender, and one that I'd make again.

Thank You Berry Munch Milkshake:

Taste: This one was so-so. The fruit flavor didn't translate very well, tasting less like fruit and more like Froot Loops left to steep in milk. Not a terrible thing, but it definitely tasted artificial.

Texture: Good texture. This cookie is one of the crisper varieties, so it gave the shake small crunchy bits.

Overall Thoughts: Very sweet, but not a very intriguing flavor. 

Thin Mint Milkshake:

Taste: Very pleasant--like mint chocolate chip ice cream. The mint worked nicely with the vanilla; it was the more dominant taste, with the chocolate ably backing it up. The ice cream did tone down the flavor of the cookie a bit, but it was just a tone adjustment, not like hitting mute.

Texture: Small crunchy bits and little pockets of chocolate made this a supremely pleasant shake to enjoy; it was nice to spoon these bits to further the pleasure.

Overall Thoughts: A strong shake indeed, one that changed the flavor of the cookie, but in a nice way.


But before a winner could be declared, I simply had to know what would happen if I put all of the cookies into one super-shake. How was that, you wonder?


What, are you surprised that the flavors of a lemon-shortbread-peanut butter-chocolate-coconut-berry cookie shake didn't exactly work harmoniously? I know, me too!


The winner: All things considered, I'm going to assign top honors to the Tagalongs shake. Now, interestingly, the Tagalong is not my favorite Girl Scout Cookie, although it's definitely in my top three (Thin Mints, Samoas, and Tagalongs, if you must know. Just like the National average!). But in shake form, it definitely worked well--the texture and flavor worked nicely, and each flavor was heightened by the ice cream.

Runner-up: The Lemon Chalet! This is a cookie which I usually don't care for that much, but it became far more interesting in shake form, and the lemon-cream flavor was creamy, well-rounded, and delicious. This one surprised me!


CakeSpy Undercover: Toscanini's, Boston

CakeSpy Note: Recently I heard a rumor (well, in the NY Times, so I guess that's not really a rumor) that the best ice cream--like, in the world--was to be found at a place called Toscanini's in Boston. Boston! So far! But happily, Cake Gumshoe Jen lives there, and she was more than happy to case out the joint on a spy mission. Here's a piece from her spy diary (she took the photos, too!):

Having only one year left in law school and uncertain of where I would be post-graduation, I decided to make a “Massachusetts Bucket List” of all the places I needed to go or things to do before I graduate. On the list was Toscanini’s, an ice cream place in Cambridge that has been touted as having the best ice cream in the world by the New York Times. I grabbed a friend on a beautiful Saturday morning and ventured out.

My first impressions of Toscanini’s upon arriving were that it was small but cozy and crowded but friendly and relaxed.  The lines moved quickly and we didn’t have to wait very long before placing our order. Toscanini’s serves brunch on Saturday, so we decided to try that first. I had their Open Faced Sandwich, which was ricotta scrambled eggs, figs and prosciutto on toasted bread, while my friend had their Toasted Bagel, which had mascarpone plum preserves, and sea salt. Both were very delicious, and despite the busyness of the place the food arrived quickly.

After brunch it was time for the most important part of the meal – dessert. Gus Rancatore, one of the co-founders of Toscanini’s, was at hand to help me make the difficult decision of which ice cream flavors I was to ultimately consume. He was very friendly and helpful, asking me what kinds of ice cream I liked and giving me generous samples of several of his recommendations. I ultimately went with the caramel apple and the hazelnut, although I had also sampled the green tea Kit Kat and the burnt caramel (which were also delicious, but alas my stomach can only hold so much ice cream at one time). 

All in all, I definitely had a great time at Toscanini’s – the staff was friendly, the food was delicious, and there was a great atmosphere about the place. I’m looking forward to going back more often and trying all of their flavors.

Check it out yourself--find the location, menus, and more at tosci.com.

Toscanini's Ice Cream on Urbanspoon


Hot Dog! Chilly Willy Ice Cream Sandwiches on Hot Dog Buns Recipe for Serious Eats

CakeSpy Note: I created these for a Labor Day entry on Serious Eats. Even though Labor Day is over, they're a great way to use leftover hot dog buns!

When it comes to Labor Day food, the general rule is "it's more fun on a bun." Happily, dessert can be part of the party when you combine ice cream and hot dog buns to make Chilly Dogs.

I was delighted when I first came across this confection at Snacks!, a bodega in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood. Unlikely as it may seem, the combination of toasted hot dog bun lined with peanut butter and jelly, then topped with ice cream is actually quite delicious—the light sweetness of the bun works nicely with the ice cream, with just enough sponginess to absorb the flavor of the ice cream, but sturdy enough that it will keep it contained for a sweet hand-held treat. Of course, it might get a bit messy toward the end, but isn't that part of the fun of outdoor eating?

For the full post and recipe, check out Serious Eats!


Well Bread: Delicious Bread Pudding with Banana Ice Cream at Deschutes Brewery Portland Pub

If I didn't have photo evidence, I might almost believe that this dessert had been a dream.

Coconut bread pudding with chocolate sauce, served warm with a healthy scoop of banana ice cream. And caramel, for good measure (At least, I think that's what comprised the whole thing: it's not on their regular menu, which leads me to believe it is a summer special--or maybe it was just there for that one magical evening when we visited?). 

Oh, dude, was it good. And what an unexpected treat: we devoured it at Portland's Deschutes Brewery Pub--a place better known for its hops-based carbohydrates than its sweets.

This concoction hit just about every taste and texture sensation you could desire in a dessert, and after pairing it with some of the pub's specialty beer, we definitely left feeling fat and happy--the ultimate carbohydrate coma.

Will it be there if you go? Why not find out? Deschutes has various locations in Oregon--visit their site to learn more and peruse the menus.

Deschutes Brewery & Public House on Urbanspoon


Strawberry Blondies: Decadently Delicious Ice Cream Sandwiches

What's better than a blondie?

How about a peanut butter blondie?

And even better than that...how about two layers of peanut butter blondie sandwiched around sweet, rich, strawberry ice cream?

Forget blonde. Forget brunette. One bite of this confection and you'll only see strawberry blond(ie).

Starting out with my favorite blondie recipe (from the absolutely wonderful book All American Desserts by Judith M. Fertig) made awesomer with a decadent dose of creamy peanut butter, the addition of ice cream is hardly necessary, but it sure is welcome: the strawberry flavor with the peanut butter give an echo to the classic peanut butter and jelly pairing, but this end result is far sweeter--the perfect summery indulgence.

Here's how you make the magic happen in your own kitchen.

Strawberry Blondie Ice Cream Sandwiches

- Makes 12-24, depending on how big you want 'em -


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup peanut butter (I used Mighty Maple)
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • To fill: 1-2 pints (depends how hungry you are) strawberry ice cream--do yourself and buy a good kind.


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F. Lightly grease and parchment-line a 9x13 or 8x8-inch pan (I used 8x8 for fat, thick blondies).
  2. It's time to make the blondie batter. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Stir in the pecans or walnuts (or no nuts, if you don't want 'em) and set aside.
  3. With an electric mixer, beat the melted butter and brown sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture, bit by bit, mixing well after each addition. I added in the peanut butter last, mixing until incorporated. The batter was super thick; spread it into your pan.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean when inserted in the center. If anything, it's better (taste-wise) to err on slightly under-baked.
  5. Let cool completely. Cut into squares.
  6. Cut each square in half lengthwise and place a dollop of strawberry ice cream on top of the bottom half. Put the top half on top of the ice cream to form a sandwich. Wrap in waxed paper or plastic wrap and lightly flatten with hands to make the ice cream flush with the blondie layer. Chill in the freezer for several hours before serving. Eat immediately after removing from the freezer.



A Midsummer Night's Creamsicles for Serious Eats

This week marks Midsummer, that magical part of the year where the days are long and, according to Shakespeare, the nights are made of magic.

And while Shakespeare is fine, creamsicles are divine--and so I present A Midsummer Night's Creamsicles, a homemade version of the classic treat which truly taste best when enjoyed in the summer months. This adaptation of the creamsicle couldn't be easier to make. While I can't guarantee that they'll inspire Shakespeare in the Park-style monologues, with their sweet vanilla ice cream center surrounded by a creamy-tart orange coating, I can say that they're decidedly dreamy.

Or as Shakespeare might say, "To sleep, perchance, to creamsicle."

For more, plus the recipe, visit Serious Eats!

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