Ample Hills Creamery
New York City and I are in love with Ample Hills Creamery. Never before have I seen such creative, unique, and delicious flavors of ice cream as I have at this cozy ice cream parlor in Prospect Heights. I have not, like the guys over at Serious Eats: NY, tried every single flavor. Actually, this is a Sisyphus-ian task because Ample Hills continually invents new flavor combinations based on both seasonal ingredients and on - get this - pop culture and current events. Anyway, I am wholeheartedly a fan of Ample Hills and I am very excited to check out their new Gowanus location in the spring! Doubly exciting, they released the Ample Hills Creamery cookbook yesterday!
You can get your standard ice cream flavors at Ample Hills, like chocolate, vanilla, cookies & cream, and mint chocolate chip. Then, there's your best-selling Salted Crack Caramel: salted butter caramel ice cream base with chunks of "crack" cookies (saltines coated in butter and chocolate). Incidentally, my coworker's son works at Ample Hills and one day, she brought a ziploc bag full of crack cookies and all day, my hand was reaching into that bag for more. The one time I tried the whole ice cream, I found it a little too smoky to have all the time, but it definitely felt like a "grown up" ice cream.
Last year, to herald in the season premiere of Downton Abbey, they introduced Carson's Custard: banana ice cream with Frangelico and chunks of butter cake. It was heavenly! I don't remember ever having banana ice cream before, and the butter cake definitely made all the difference between plain banana ice cream and Carson's Custard. The ice cream itself was smooth and dense, and the cake added an airy softness to the whole thing.
This year, to mark the season premiere of Sherlock, they rolled out The Empty Cone: Earl Grey ice cream with lemon meringue pie cookies and lapsang souchong caramel swirl. I mean, you had me at Earl Grey ice cream. Alex was a little skeptical of the combination, but I thought it worked incredibly well. First there's the base of Earl Grey, which takes me straight back to that one time I was wandering London's Chinatown and it was rainy so I popped into the Costa on Gerrard Street for a steaming mug of Earl Grey until it stopped raining. To me, Earl Grey is comforting, yet fortifying. Throw in the lemon meringue pie cookies and you get this incredible crunchy/brittle texture with the contrasting tang of citrus, reinforced by the bergamot flavor of Earl Grey. The lapsang souchong caramel adds another layer of smokiness and almost savoriness to the whole thing. I am not exaggerating when I tell you I was swooning, and I pretty much find myself salivating at even the slightest mention of Ample Hills Creamery.
For my birthday, I took my friends to Ample Hills for post-drunk-brunch ice cream. I taste-tested a few flavors (The Munchies - pretzel-infused ice cream with potato chips, pretzels, Ritz crackers, and mini M&Ms - was an amazing sweet/salty bite) but the one I settled on was The Sweet Garden of Earthly Delights - honey-vanilla ice cream with homemade lavender shortbread cookies and an Earl Grey caramel swirl. Definitely an earthly delight ;-)