Restaurants are catering to consumers’ on-the-go lifestyles by putting their own touches on portable frozen treats for the summer.
Friendly’s has launched a new line of grab-and-go ice cream bars, cones and sandwiches available at its restaurants in the Northeast, Southeast and parts of the Mid-Atlantic, as well as in supermarkets in the Northeast.
Flavors range from the expected — vanilla ice cream coated in chocolate, sold as bars and on a stick, and the Vanilla Friendwhich, vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two chocolate wafers — to the whimsical, such as black raspberry ice cream bars coated with chocolate on a stick, and the Strawberry Cake Krunch Bar, vanilla and strawberry ice cream coated with crunchy vanilla cake on a stick.
The more than 350-unit family-dining chain has also introduced a 100-calorie Fudgealicious Bar, which is premium fudge on a stick.
Rita’s Italian Ice CEO Jonathan Fornaci said that low-calorie desserts are growing in popularity. The chain’s fifth most popular flavor is Sugar-Free Mango Peach. The other top sellers are Mango, Starburst Strawberry, Sour Patch and Cherry.
Fornaci said he is testing cookie shells — Oreos, macaroons, chocolate chip and shortbread — in California, so kids can make their own ice cream sandwiches.
Jami Curl, owner of Saint Cupcake, an independent restaurant in Portland, Ore., is introducing a line of ice cream sandwiches and bars for the summer. They include a Peanut Butter Cakewich — peanut butter ice cream sandwiched between slices of the restaurant’s popular chocolate cake and rolled in salty peanut praline — and a HoneyBerry Vanilla Bean Cookiewich, for which local strawberries and honey are spun with vanilla ice cream and sandwiched between honey graham crackers.
François Payard, whose five Payard pastry shops in New York City are known for their French macarons, is breaking with tradition this summer and making them into miniature ice cream sandwiches in flavors such as strawberry cheesecake and pistachio strawberry sorbet.
At Pastaria in St. Louis, pastry chef Anne Croy is tapping into other trends for her ice cream sandwiches, such as salted caramel, one of its two most popular flavors.
“It’s kind of become a classic at this point. It’s awesome,” chef-owner Gerard Craft said.
While flavors change daily, other favorites include Askinosie Chocolate, made with chocolate from a Missouri producer by the same name, and toasted coconut, for which Croy adds toasted coconut to milk and slowly cooks it in the oven at around 250° Fahrenheit for about eight hours.
She also serves a s’mores ice cream sandwich of marshmallow gelato sandwiched between chocolate-coated graham crackers.
“My favorite is the garden mint and chocolate chip ice cream on a chocolate chip cookie,” Craft said. “It’s especially good right now for the summer.”
At The Optimist in Atlanta, Taria Camerino, creative director of the seaside fish camp-themed restaurant’s pastry program, has created her own take on the classic drumstick.
She fills a housemade waffle cone with dark chocolate fudge and vanilla bean ice cream, freezes it solid, dips it in a creamy chocolate glaze and rolls it in deep-fried salted peanuts. She calls it the Super Duper, which is also the name of a fishing lure, “so it fit right in,” she said.
The Grand Cascades Lodge at Crystal Springs Resort in Hamburg, N.J., recently launched a new frozen dessert program with hand-held selections, including mini-brioche sliders filled with blackberry sorbet, green apple sorbet and chocolate gelato, as well as a pizzelle sandwich, made with pizzelle wafer cookies and pistachio gelato. The sandwich is served with crushed pistachios, berries and edible flowers.
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