Ice cream is one of the most popular foods in America — after pizza and cheeseburgers — but in the last ten years, an exciting new trend has emerged. Gourmet ice cream is making the scene! Made by “mom and pop” stores in small batches, flavors range from lavender mint to bacon and beer. Custom ice cream cups can also be ordered in small batches and come complete with plastic tasting spoons for sharing at parties.
Gelato cups featuring exotic ingredients are also popular. The trend is to utilize local fruits and herbs (mint, lavender, cilantro, oregano) and to mix them with high-grade chocolates and sometimes even artisanal meat products. Even old standards like vanilla, the most popular flavor in America, are getting a re-boot, with ice cream makers importing vanilla from other countries for a stronger and purer flavor.
Plastic tasting spoons, the small spoons that most ice cream stores use to give samples of a flavor, are being used at these ice cream tasting parties to give the partygoers a wide array of gourmet ice cream flavors. Experts say that the flavors of gourmet ice cream are better appreciated in very small amounts.
Some parties even play games where guests are blindfolded and have to guess exotic flavor combinations. Gourmet ice cream has been known to include jalapeno peppers, salt and caramel, and even various cheeses. Guests are asking for small batches to be made with flavors like cake batter, lemon drop and black pepper, cereal with marshmallows, and even tofu. Putting these flavors into ice cream cups with lids adds a nostalgic feel.
Most Americans will eat ice cream almost 30 times this year, and gourmet ice cream stores offering interesting flavors seem to be filling a need for variety and satisfying customers’ sweet tooths. With over 1 billion gallons of sweet treats being made every year, the time has arrived for something a little more unusual. Wasabi ice cream, anyone?