Did Someone Say “Chocolate Series”?
If you didn’t get your fill of chocolate on Valentine’s Day already, head to your nearest Salt & Straw to really indulge.
The artisan ice cream maker out of Portland, OR launched this month its “Chocolate Series,” five chocolate-centric flavors made in collaboration with local chocolatiers located in the five markets that it has scoop shops.
Lucky me had a chance to try samples of all five limited-edition flavors now available at all Salt & Straw shops by the scoop or hand-packed pint ($12.95). If you don’t have a shop near you, not to worry; you can have all five flavors delivered to your door at a special discounted price of $68.
The five flavors are: Fran’s Almond Gold Bar, Cloudforest Chocolate Ishpingo & Mango, Dandelion Cocoa Nibs & Frangipane; Compartes Coffee & Love Nuts; and Exquisito Guanabana Stracciatella.
Actual chopped up award-winning Almond Gold Bars from Fran’s Chocolate in Seattle go into the first variety. Not surprisingly, this is the sweetest of the five flavors, and tastes very much like a candy bar. The pieces of caramel-almond-chocolate bar get mixed into salted vanilla ice cream swirled with ribbons of gooey caramel and dark chocolate stracciatella (flakes).
Portland’s Cloudforest’s single-estate Ecuadorian chocolate goes into the second flavor, along with surprising tropical elements that include lemon verbena sherbet spiced with Ecuadorian ishpingo, a cinnamon-like spice, and a swirl of mango curd. The color of an old-fashioned malt, this ice cream exudes the warmth of cinnamon married with the lushness of mango.
San Francisco’s own Dandelion Chocolate lends its cocoa nibs for steeping into a roasted chocolate base that later get candied and added back into the custard base. Chewy, nutty frangipane, along with crushed almonds, give this ice cream a vivid almond flavor. Think of the tastes of chocolate pudding and almond jello combined in one dreamy mouthful.
Coffee lovers will definitely sit up and take notice with one taste of the Compartes Coffee & Love Nuts flavor. The Colombian roast coffee is brewed and blended into the ice cream for a strong, roasty-toasty, and almost caramel-like taste. Here and there, you’ll find big, crunchy, sweet Love Nuts, pecans that are caramelized in Tahitian vanilla, then sprinkled with sea salt, before being coated in 14 layers of dark chocolate from this Los Angeles maker. It’s like a mug of mocha coffee, only frozen.
The final flavor is the most unusual and perhaps memorable. That’s because it spotlights guanabana, a sweet, custardy fruit native to Central and tropical South America. Also known as sour sop, it has a beguiling taste that’s like banana crossed with passion fruit. In this ice cream, it’s made into sherbet that combines with ribbons of floral dark chocolate stracciatella from Miami’s Exquisito Chocolates.
The result is a deceptive looking ice cream. Open the container and it looks like chocolate chip ice cream. Take a taste, though, and a surprisingly bright, floral, and sultry taste reveals itself.
Which one to try first? I’ll leave that up to you. But trying all five is not only the best way to go, but definitely the most fun option.