Article By Ashley Talmadge, Photo by Chubby Cheek Photography
When summer temps soar, nothing cools like a frosty goodie. Sundaes steeped in gooey fudge, delectable Italian gelato, fruit bars, and shave ice–they’re all divine. Even better, these delights can be found in parlors that produce them on-site with fresh ingredients. What’s your fancy?
Good Ole Vanilla and Chocolate
On average, people in the United States eat about 23 pounds of ice cream annually, the largest per capita consumption worldwide. Vanilla and chocolate consistently rank as the top two favorite flavors. Traditional American ice cream is made with a few simple ingredients—cream, sugar, egg yolks, and a flavoring such as vanilla bean. As it freezes, the mixture is churned at high speed, a process which adds air and increases volume.
A classic ice cream parlor will serve your sundae the way it has for decades—overflowing with whipped cream, topped with a bright red cherry, and so tall you’ll need a long-handled spoon to scrape every bit of warm fudge from the bottom of the glass tulip dish. Jayme Westbrook’s family has been making ice cream for almost 80 years. She says, “By sticking with the original recipes handed down from generations we ensure our customers are always getting the same product years later.” Tradition includes seasonal favorites as well, and long-established ice cream shops often make flavors like watermelon, peach, and pumpkin from local produce.
For the more adventurous palate, gourmet ice cream shops offer every flavor combination imaginable, from honey lavender to caramel bacon. Food fairs also provide excellent opportunities to sample the exotic. Just say yes to garlic ice cream at the annual Elephant Garlic Festival!
Gelato, also known as Italian ice cream, is a confection born of the Renaissance. As the story goes, Florentine stage designer Bernardo Buontalenti created the dessert as part of an extravaganza event hosted by the Medici family in the 1500s . Today gelato differs from American ice cream in several respects. It is made with milk rather than cream, which means the fat content is lower. Yet, because it’s churned at a slower speed, less air is added and the final product is actually denser.
A display of gelato flavors is a visual feast, rich with lush hues of mint green, dark mocha, and blood orange. Café owner and treat maker Charmaine Yu says a small serving of gelato can be just as satisfying as a larger portion of ice cream. “We serve it at a few degrees above freezing so it does not freeze your tongue, as ice cream can,” she says. “The flavor comes through better.”
Mexican paletas are frozen bars made from either a water or milk base, and traditionally sold from street carts or small shops called paleterias . Though shaped like the familiar Popsicle, the paleta is much more substantial, often loaded with visible chunks (or even slices) of fruit. And the flavors are like a quick trip to a tropical clime—kiwi, guanabana, cactus, mango, some peppered with spices like chili and tamarind.
Gloria Granados has been serving “summer on a stick” for years and says she often fields questions about unfamiliar flavors. “People love the mango-and-chamoy,” she says, explaining that chamoy is a fruit-based spicy Mexican candy sauce. Another favorite is avocado, a mild almost “buttery” flavor.
Hawaiian shave ice is similar to a sno cone in presentation…but it’s so much more. The texture of shave ice softer and finer, more like fresh fallen snow than icy pellets. Drizzled with your choice of syrup—coconut, pineapple, passionfruit—it’s as cooling as an island breeze.
DIY Ice Cream in Minutes
Homemade ice cream in less than ten minutes? You betcha! Let your kids beat the heat…deliciously.
Ingredients for each serving:
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup half-and-half
1 tbsp granulated sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract (or other flavoring)
2 ziplock bags—one gallon, one sandwich
1 cup rock salt
5 cups ice, crushed or cubed
1.) Pour cream and half-and-half into small ziplock. (Avoid spilling by placing the open bag in a cup or bowl before pouring.)
2.) Add sugar and vanilla, seal bag, and set aside.
3.) Place ice and rock salt in large ziplock.
4.) Place small sealed bag inside the large bag of ice/salt. Seal large bag.
5.) Let the fun begin! Vigorously shake the large bag, making sure the small one gets tossed within it. In just five minutes, the cream mixture will thicken to the consistency of soft ice cream.
6.) Remove the small bag, open, serve, and enjoy!
-To prevent leakage, double up on one or both bags. The cream mixture should not leak into the ice/salt bag.
-Hands get cold quickly! Try wearing mittens or oven mitts.
Ashley Talmadge is a freelance writer and mother of two boys, who thoroughly enjoy the frosty delights of summer. Her articles have appeared in dozens of parenting publications across the U.S. and Canada.