Sunday, November 7, 2010

Snap-O-Lantern & Other Pumpkin Ice Creams

Primarily I think of pumpkin as a delicacy to be enjoyed at a warm temperature. I have not been tempted by the pumpkin smoothies offered at Jamba Juice, nor was I very jealous when my brother said he had pumpkin Italian ice at Rita’s. The one exception, you guessed it, is ice cream.

Without a doubt, the best pumpkin ice cream I’ve had is the one I make myself. But, since everyone can’t be me, I thought I’d assist my Chicagoland neighbors by reviewing the major concoctors of ice cream and otherwise. Here they are, from best to worst:
  • Snap-O-Lantern ice cream by Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream (Madison, WI, sourced by many Chicago-area ice cream providers) – While this ice cream and Ben & Jerry’s were the only ones to spice up pumpkin ice cream by adding some textural element, the addition of gingerbread cookie dough isn’t the only reason Snap-o-Lantern tops the list. The ice cream reminds me of my first memories of pumpkin ice cream at the Hilton Village Parlor Restaurant back home: sweet in front, pumpkin in the back, creamy all the way around. I attribute this to the gingerbread cookie dough, which excuses the ice cream from having to be all spices at once and instead to focus on being pumpkin. At first taste last year, this became a seasonal favorite. (pictured)
  • Pumpkin Pie gelato at Pachiugo (locations around the country) – Though products named pumpkin pie or pumpkin spice usually indicate a watered down pumpkin flavor, this product tasted the most like pumpkin than any of the others. And, as is to be expected with gelato, a really smooth texture appropriate to its flavor inspiration.
  • Pumpkin gelato at Black Dog Gelato (Chicago)
  • Pumpkin ice cream at Bobtail (Chicago)
  • Pumpkin ice cream at Oberweiss (many Midwest locations)
  • Pumpkin ice cream at Homer’s (Wilmette, IL)
  • Pumpkin Spice ice cream by Nice Cream (Chicago)
  • Pumpkin Pie frozen custard at Culver’s (many Midwest locations)
  • Pumpkin Cheesecake ice cream by Ben & Jerry’s (grocery store) – This offering is not new this year, but the recipe must be. Either that or the 7-11 at Western & Foster got a bad batch.
  • Pumpkin kefir at Starfruit Cafe (Chicago) - Ever heard of kefir? It’s a yogurt product that is supposedly healthier. Guess why you’ve never heard of it? It tastes like frozen earwax.

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