Jeni’s

I have always heard amazing things about Jeni’s ice cream, including that they use a unique process to make their delicious ice cream (they describe it as having a buttercream body). I had never had the opportunity to try it for myself. Until Charleston. 

My husband and I stopped our RV in Charleston for a few hours to explore, and in my wanderings, I stumbled upon some ice cream. The reviews said it was overpriced, but a quick google search told me there were other ice cream shops nearby too – including Jeni’s! My decision made, I headed to Jeni’s. Although the line layout wasn’t super-clear, the service was excellent. I noted that the prices were on the higher side, but they were typical for a city like Charleston…and of course you pay more for quality.The scoops were small but satisfying. If you’re hungry, I’d suggest getting the trio for $6. The ice cream is delicious and clearly uses very high-quality ingredients. 

Milky chocolate: A rather simple but delicious flavor. 

Salty caramel: Prominent salt, with cream and caramel…a very fun flavor

Darkest chocolate: She told me this is 99% cacao butter! It’s amazing, like an intense dark brownie batter but with plenty of sweet too. This is the perfect balance for chocolate connoisseurs. In the running for the best I’ve had, for sure! 

Two small scoops ran me $6 total. They throw a waffle crisp thing on top which was outrageously full of flavor. 

I highly recommend Jeni’s, particularly their Charleston location. They also ship nationwide! 

How Much Ice Cream Can You Fit Into a Week?

Do you ever ask yourself this question? Do you struggle with the desire to stay healthy while eating lots of ice cream? I certainly do. 

This past week I flew back to New Hampshire. The combined stress of travel, mild family drama and life combined with my ice cream-craving brain in a major way. Suffice to say that I ate too much dairy, sugar and fat. And when I thought about how to write about it, I realized just how intense it was. It’s like I scheduled it out with a desire to eat as much as possible. 

So be shocked, or use this as a guide for yourself on how to eat too much ice cream and sweet treats. 

Wednesday – A small hazelnut soft serve frozen yogurt with raspberries at Pinkberry at the Baltimore airport. A kiddie size Wild NH Black Bear – vanilla with red raspberry swirl and chocolate raspberry truffles – from Lang’s, who serve Blake’s ice cream. 

Thursday – A large with cotton candy, coconut cream and Wild Maine Black Bear, a red raspberry ice cream with dark chocolate truffles, for lunch at Jordan’s Creamery. 

Friday – A dish of Coconut Bliss‘ Cherry Amaretto (coconut-based, dairy-free) with fun toppings at a pre-wedding dinner. 

Saturday – A dish of Round Top’s Salted Caramel ice cream with hot fudge at a wedding dinner.  

Sunday – A small Wild NH Black Bear with hot fudge at Lang’s after dinner. 

Monday – A scoop of ice cream with two flavors, Moose Tracks (vanilla, amazing fudge ripple, peanut butter truffles) and Peppermint Stick, at Merrivale Ice Cream next to The Pizza Man

Tuesday – A small dish of Milk ( low-fat frozen yogurt) at Pinkberry with lunch. A small hot fudge shake at Sonic with dinner. 

Have you ever eaten this much sweetness in a week? What does your dream ice cream week look like? Tell me about it!

Frozen Custard on the Outer Banks 

Uncle Eddy’s Frozen Custard and Mini-golf isn’t glamorous. In fact, from the outside, you could reasonably presume it’s a small-town mini-golf place, perhaps with some cheap chain’s ice cream on offer for after your game. 

But in reality, this place is an absolute must stop in Buxton, NC. You’ll find six flavors of tasty hard frozen custard (next to some flavors they don’t make themselves) with memorable names like Elvis and Spongebob. You’ll also find two delicious flavors of fruity sorbet. But the reason that Uncle Eddy’s is a must for anyone visiting the Outer Banks is their soft serve custard in chocolate, vanilla and twist. 

I’ve had excellent soft serve, but it’s kind of an ephemeral thing. Most places serving soft serve in NH, where I am from, are more focused on it being healthy or low/no fat than it tasting delightfully indulgent. Custard is delightfully rich and creamy, and this stuff is the real deal. I know I should broaden my custard horizons, but to date, this stuff stands as the best I’ve had.

If you’re a Dairy Queen fan, you probably love a Blizzard. I used to as well, but they’re really overpriced and the ice cream isn’t exciting. For a nearly comparable price, have a “Hurricane Eddy” with the outrageously smooth and creamy custard you’ll find here. You can get chocolate, vanilla or a twist (my favorite) with two mix-ins. I have enjoyed chocolate syrup and banana, strawberries and chocolate syrup, peppermint patties and chocolate syrup and my absolute favorite, peppermint patties and hot fudge – not a normal option but they offered when they ran out of syrup! This stuff sells for $5.99/16 ounces which is a huge portion. For another buck you can get 20 ounces. 

I will review for you some of their hard flavors as well. But remember, while their hard custard is one of the best such options on the Outer Banks (next to Scoops in Nags Head and Kill Devil Hills), it’s not necessarily going to excite a city slicker ice cream connoisseur. So have some soft custard. Today, preferably. But if you can make a few visits, here’s your hard custard guide. 

Hard Custard Flavors:

Black Sand – tasty chocolate base with butterfinger. Yum! Almost a German chocolate base. 

English Toffee – The toffee addition really makes this one special. 

Raspberry Margarita – This combines their raspberry and lemon sorbets with vanilla custard and margarita mix. It’s fun and fruity, and like an adult beverage. Kind of sweet and odd, but it’s fun and better and richer than I imagined.  

Golden Toffee – This one combines vanilla, caramel and Heath bar. It’s seriously excellent and was the best ice cream I had had in a while. The flavors meld perfectly. 

Lemon Raspberry Cream – This light and refreshing one combines vanilla, lemon and raspberry. 

Yellow Brick Road – This is a fabulous combination of vanilla, cashews, white chocolate chips and caramel – even if you aren’t fond of cashews! The vanilla is perfect. 

Hatteras Sunrise – This is vanilla with cherry, pineapple and coconut. It’s so fun and fruity, very candy-like but lovely and bright. Coconut makes me think of a snowball…the finely chopped fruit is well mixed so you get some in every bite. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Krisp – This has a chocolate base with peanut butter and rice krispie treats. I’d prefer bigger chunks but it’s fun and tasty. 

Rice Krispie Treat – A nice vanilla base with treats and caramel. 

Elvis – This is a chocolate peanut butter ice cream with banana – it’s fun with tasty if cold banana chunks. 

Golden Toffee – A lovely warm vanilla with delicious chocolate Toffee pieces. Really nice. 

Be sure to check out their fun beach gift shop. And while I haven’t tried it yet, their shades mini-gold course is very pretty and a bargain at $8/as many games as you want. 

Bring cash – there’s an extra $1/order charge if it’s under $10 and you use a card. And this stuff is priced well. I first enjoyed a small, 5 ounce serving for only $3.18, and they’re happy to combine flavors for you. 

If you go, tell them Jamie from Camp Hatteras sent you! They’re wonderful people and I hope they stick around for a long time. Thanks for reading and happy eating! 

The Best Restaurant in Derry, NH

I don’t usually write about non-dessert items, but of course there’s always an exception to the rule. Early this summer, my husband and I were in the vicinity of Derry, NH and needed a meal.

When we’re in Derry, there isn’t really a discussion about where to go to eat. It’s not exactly a food mecca, but there are a few decent restaurants. And then there is Amphora.

Amphora was the first restaurant where we felt like family the first time we visited. I scheduled a large group gathering the night of the NH Theatre Awards a few years back, and although Amphora doesn’t normally take reservations, they allowed us to arrange for reservations for this event. I’d never been there, so I wasn’t sure what to expect except Greek food. I was delighted then and they continue to impress.

Everything is delicious and much of it is local, but they are also just ridiculously accommodating. Of people, of allergies, you name it. That first day they expressed interest in hosting a VIP night after our production of Weird Romance at the Derry Opera House. They’ve since let us host cabarets and one-woman shows there, some of them in conjunction with a fancy menu designed just for the purpose. They’re sweet, amazing people who really know how to cook.

You can’t go wrong there. Seriously, it’s all that good. And since this blog is about sweets, I especially recommend our two favorites – the baklava cheesecake (so indulgent) and the ouzo cake, with a warm licorice-flavored liquor dripped over the top.

It’s the place I will most miss when I leave New Hampshire. Don’t miss it yourself!

 

An Odd, but Delicious, Paradise Found

Sandwich Creamery is odd, for a few reasons. For one, it’s in the middle of nowhere, in a small town, down a long dirt road.

For another, it is self-serve. Yes, it’s a self-serve ice cream stand. You bring the cash and help yourself to local products and ice cream in a few sizes.

Oh, and this part isn’t odd – it’s amazing.

The prices are great – $3 small, $4 medium, $6 large. The medium is a pint. I went with two half pints, for research purposes of course. A large is a quart. I had plenty but this stuff is so good, I could have kept eating for a while.

Here’s what I chose – Ross wasn’t really hungry yet.

Muddy Mint – A chocolate mint base with pistachio and chocolate chunks. This is just outstanding. Outstanding. It has fabulous flavor, super smooth base and not too thick, just the perfect consistency. This is the perfect combo of chocolate and mint, and the mixins were diced small which was perfect.

Mexican jumping bean – A cinnamon chocolate base with chocolate covered coffee beans. Where do I begin? This is insanely delicious. You’ll feel the cinnamon in your nose – to Ross, it reminded him of a Yankee candle, but in a good way. It’s basically perfect. The chocolate was super tasty, the beans crunch and chocolatey and delicious.

In short, we are crazy about Sandwich Creamery. They have really long hours since it is self-serve. Make it a destination, bring a cooler and enjoy one of my contenders for best ice cream in New Hampshire.

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Northland Dairy Bar

As you know, I like to report on homemade ice cream places. Northland Dairy Bar, in Berlin, NH, does not serve their own ice cream. But, they serve some fabulous flavors (tons to choose from, actually), some great American cuisine, and perhaps most importantly for me, raspberry pie.

Raspberry pie is seasonal. They’ll also do other flavors, when they’re in season. But trust me, this raspberry pie is special. So special I’ve driven over an hour for a taste. Many times.

Ross, my husband, and I knew we had to make sure we got raspberry pie this season. With our work schedules, a trip to Berlin is very out of the way – more than two hours in total of driving just for some of that pie. But it was that important to us.

And no, we didn’t get ice cream on this trip, so if you’d rather not continue reading, I do understand.

Northland Dairy Bar carries a variety of diner-esque food, from burgers to fried seafood to sandwiches and soups. Not anything exceptional, but it’s reliably tasty and affordable food. They also have some mixed drinks that sound amazing that I hope to try soon.

Ross and I knew we were getting raspberry pie. They sell two kinds – one without a pie top, and one with. You don’t want the pie crust on top. You want a little pie crust at the bottom, covered in the freshest raspberries, and perhaps some whipped cream if you feel fancy. Trust me. It’s worth the $6.99 or whatever they’re charging.

But we were hungry, and as much as we knew ice cream for dinner was the cheapest option, we felt like relaxing a bit in the air-conditioned restaurant, so we settled on a meal of cheap, real food before dessert. I went with a veggie burger (they’re very tasty) and Ross went with a reuben, I believe. We both shared a gargantuan plate of very good fries.

We had called ahead to make sure they could set aside a couple of slices of pie for us – there was no way we were driving this far only to have them run out, and they do sell out regularly.

Here’s what we made the trip for.

It’s everything you want it to be and imagine it to be. It’s so, so good. Eat it and be happy. That is all.

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It’s Ice Cream in the Rain, Just Ice Cream in the Rain

IMG_2645Some businesses that have been around for a long time keep things going by doing it all the same way, but sometimes, you have to keep reinventing yourself. It looks like Ballard’s in Concord has had to do that, but they’re still a charming place to take your kids or kid at heart.

I had never been to Ballard’s, but they used to have a retail store (Ballard’s Novelty & Party) that carried all sorts of things, including costumes and dancewear for the Concord, NH area. Although it closed in 2010, due at least in part I’m sure to the advent of the internet and big box stores, Ballard’s Ice Cream is still a charming throwback to another era – perhaps 1983, when they began selling ice cream.

My friend Sheree and I probably picked one of the worst days for ice cream – it wasn’t just cold, but it was raining, hard, and the playground equipment and outdoor area that would normally seem charming sure seemed depressing and empty in the rain! But we had a job to do (also, lots of catching up to do), so we weren’t going to let a thing like a downpour deter us.

IMG_2643.JPGI should also be upfront and say that we chose this location because it was new to me & convenient for our purposes. I knew that it wasn’t homemade ice cream (they said it comes from a few local vendors) and I also knew it was premium ice cream, not super premium, which isn’t something I try to be a snob about but which does tend to make for an ice cream I’m not as gung-ho about, as my blog entries will attest. But honestly, what sold me on Ballard’s was the sheer number of flavors on their website. There were tons of them that sounded delicious, and I couldn’t want to see what they had available during our visit.

I had my eye on Frosted Cupcake, described as “premium vanilla cupcake flavored ice cream loaded with a chocolate frosting swirl and chunks of tasty yellow cake”. Any time I can get a cross between cake and ice cream I am ridiculously excited about it, and this really sounded awesome. Of course they were out. 😦 (Being the detective sleuth that I am, I tried googling the flavor to know where it came from – looks like Hershey’s to me.)

But I came prepared with two other flavors, which they were willing to cram into a small cup for me even at the insanely cheap price of $2.75! (Their regular is $4.25, which means you can either go a little smaller than average and save big or go a little bigger and pay more, but it’s reasonable either way.)

Here’s my report on what I did get!

IMG_2651.JPGMidnight Caramel River – This was really tasty, and actually tasted almost exactly like a Hoodsie cup! “Creamy golden vanilla and dark chocolate ice cream flooded with a thick caramel swirl.” (Looks like Hershey’s too!)

Caramel Cheesecake Cookie Monster – The caramel in this is tasty, but it’s definitely not high quality – like a kids treat. The base is sort of cookies and creamy…I didn’t like the chocolate chunks, unfortunately, they were very chalky, and the cheesecake in this was only okay. “Caramel ice cream loaded with delicious cookies and cream cheesecake chunks and a chocolate wafer cookie.” (Also a possible Hershey’s match.)

I would absolutely recommend Ballard’s for kids. There is a train to play on, plenty of seating, affordable ice cream and they have tons of “real food” options as well, including sandwiches, fried food and even tacos. So it would be a fun night out with your family and you can support a local business. Following Ballard’s Facebook page has shown me how much they support their fellow businesses (even their own competition in Concord) and they absolutely deserve your support.

And although it wasn’t my favorite ice cream adventure (the weather didn’t help), I learned that I am very drawn to Hershey’s flavors – and the company was fantastic, which is the most important thing!

Thanks so much for reading, and have a wonderful week!

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