Chocolate or vanilla cones may be fine for the start of ice cream season, but as spring turns to summer, fans of the cool creamy stuff may be looking for a bit more variety. These operators are getting customers in the door with wacky flavors, far-out combinations and Instagram-worthy creations. Offered up here are four licks of inspiration.
1. A little black magic
Cow Tipping Creamery in Austin, Texas, debuted black ice cream on May 4, Star Wars Day, as a tribute to Darth Vader. The soft serve is colored with black ash made with activated charcoal. But Los Angeles ice cream shop Little Damage beat them to the dark side by a week, introducing its Goth-inspired black ice cream as an alternative to Starbucks’ multicolored unicorn drinks. The concept’s almond-charcoal soft serve is even swirled into a black cone.
2. Rolling along
Thai rolled ice cream, which hit Instagram feeds late last summer, is spreading to the mainstream this season. 10Below, a multiunit ice cream shop in New York City with plans to expand to Chicago and other cities, claims to have brought the treat stateside from Asia, where it’s a popular street sweet in Thailand as well as Malaysia, Cambodia and the Philippines. Part of the appeal is in the show: Staffers pour a thin base of flavored milk on a cold, round metal disk that’s kept at 10 degrees below zero. As it freezes (which takes about two minutes), the thin circle of ice cream is worked with paddles and rolled into cylinders. It’s kind of like a new-age Cold Stone Creamery, as ingredients such as coconut, nuts and chopped chocolate can be chopped into the base and customers can spec unlimited toppings.
3. Between the buns
Ice cream burgers are not that new—the original Chipwich sort of mimicked a burger—but the way pastry chef Cyril Dupuis does them up at Hong Kong’s InterContinental Hotel is something entirely different. The hotel’s Lobby Lounge menu has a whole section devoted to Ice Cream Burgers, featuring such variations as the Spanish Crumble, French Chocolate and Australian Macadamia and Blueberry Burger. The latter is composed of custard vanilla ice cream, blueberry jam, blueberry ice cream and whipped vanilla cream sandwiched between a brioche bun with a mango drizzle and scattering of fresh blueberries.
4. Cool off with this chimney
Garden Creamery in San Francisco just opened in February, but its Chimney Cones are already Instagram stars. The cones, which resemble churros, are adapted from a Hungarian pastry. They’re made from a sweet yeast dough which is baked around a spindle, then rolled in cinnamon sugar. The small shop offers eight vegan versions made with coconut milk, including Thai Tea and Orange Creamsicle, as well as dairy flavors such as Black Sesame and Banana Salted Caramel.