Nothing screams summertime more than ice cream. And while ice cream all by itself continues to be popular on menus this season, ice cream on top of or in between indulgent baked goods — think churros, pies or chocolate covered cookies — are the latest frozen treats being menued by chefs across the country.
Crullers, the twisted fried pastry, and ice cream collide in innovative desserts at Plan Check Kitchen + Bar, a modern American eatery with four Los Angles-area locations. Among these creative collisions is the Space Age Cruller — made with marshmallow fluff, astronaut Neapolitan ice cream, and pistachio ice cream — and the Circus Cruller, made with vanilla bean ice cream, pastry cream, whipped cream and crystallized rose, hibiscus, fennel flower and mint.
“I love food. But I also love the idea of experience,” said Plan Check’s owner Terry Heller. “We like using our crullers and ice cream as a blank canvas for really out-of-the-box desserts.”
At Hanjip Korean BBQ in Culver City, Calif., chef Chris Oh partnered with neighboring frozen treat specialists CoolHaus to create an exclusive line of ice cream sandwiches with Korean flavors and unexpected ingredients. Among the current offerings are Korean Chili Fries, made with red bean ice cream and shoestring French fries between snack food chip cookies (butterscotch, pretzels, potato chips); Hawaiian Pizza, made with pineapple ice cream with Spam pieces between white chocolate macadamia nut cookies; and Korean Cookies and Cream, made with Tahitian vanilla ice cream with Korean Choco Pies between chocolate-covered whoopee pie cookies.
“These sandwiches are playful and fun, just like everything that we are about at Hanjip,” said Oh. “Customers like the original flavors, and having a Korean dessert option to complete the perfect Hanjip dining experience.”
Also adding an ethnic spin to the traditional ice cream sandwich is Chef Lawrence Letrero of Sable Kitchen & Bar in Chicago. A meet-up of the classic American ice cream sandwich and a Mexican churro, the Churro Ice Cream Sandwich is made with hibiscus ice cream between two rounds of sugar coated churros and garnished with dulce de leche and candied hibiscus flowers.
Churros and ice cream are also at the center of the Churro Bowl Sundae, a new, limited-time dessert at David Burke Kitchen + Garden in New York City. Inspired by Executive Pastry Chef Tracy Wilk’s desire to create the ultimate dessert with a variety of tastes and textures, the sundae is comprised of a bowl-shaped fried churro filled with vanilla bean ice cream, salted caramel ice cream and malted milk chocolate ice cream, and topped with Nutella, dulce de leche, fresh whipped cream, peanut brittle, caramel popcorn and sprinkles.
Other chefs are drawing inspiration from pie a la mode to create fresh frozen indulgences. At Playa Provisions’ Small Batch, an artisanal ice cream shop in Playa Del Rey, Calif., top-chef alum Brooke Williamson recently debuted the Blueberry Piescream Sandwich, which features peaches and cream ice cream between two blueberry-balsamic hand pies. And the Hopdaddy Burger Bar in Austin, Texas will serve the Apple Pie a la Mode Shake, made with a combination of apple butter, flaky crusted cheddar piecrust and spiced ice cream topped with piecrust and whipped cream, as a July special.
Major chains are also getting in on the fun of marrying ice cream and baked goods to create indulgent frozen treats. Baskin-Robbins recently tested in Las Vegas and the Baltimore area its Donut Ice Cream Sandwich, which features a customer’s choice of ice cream flavor topped with hot fudge and sandwiched between a powdered sugar donut.
The company said it is currently reviewing feedback from customers and franchisees to determine a possible broader rollout. In March, however, the chain did roll out customizable warm cookie ice cream sandwiches.