Affordable Ice Cream in Gainesville

On a quick trip through what seems to be the awesome university town of Gainesville, FL, I was delighted to find Sweet Dreams in a small strip mall. It’s an unpretentious location focused on cozy seats to enjoy some cheap homemade ice cream.

This isn’t gourmet, and it’s not going to be your best ice cream ever (unless all you know is Edy’s and Baskin Robbins), but it’s a great place for a treat.

The flavors I tried:

Tamarind – Wow. This had a delightful tartness.

Chocolate Ginger – Unfortunately this wasn’t memorable – definitely nothing exceptional here.

House Chocolate – This is a dark chocolate with fruity undertones. It wasn’t my favorite, but I give them credit for uniqueness!

Chocolate Jack, Jimmy, Johnny – This has a wonderful chocolate flavor, boozy and with dried fruits and nuts. It’s actually a flaky texture, and it’s really tasty. I’ve never seen anything like it, minus the one time I made ice cream by throwing all sorts of chocolate together.

Mint Chip – Tastes like Christmas! This is light and delightful.

The brown sugar toffee also looks worth a try!

With tax, a double dipper was only $3.67, making this a very affordable indulgence. They will also let you mix flavors if you order a pint!

Do be aware there aren’t a lot of “normal” flavors like chocolate, strawberry and vanilla. This place is best for adventurers. I also missed the case with fun sorbets and dog treats on my first visit.

Have you tried Sweet Dreams? What did you think?

Hopkins Farm Creamery in Delaware

On a recent trip through Delaware, I wanted to experience what the local dairies had to offer for ice cream. Hopkins Farm Creamery has won local awards and offered a gluten-free menu, so they seemed like a great place to visit. 

Their ice cream stand placement and design is interesting – you begin by ordering from one section, and then you’re assigned a letter where your number will be called in another section. I’m sure it’s designed to streamline crowds, but it felt a little bit impersonal. We were also surprised to see how close the dairy cows were kept to each other. But we came for ice cream, and I was thrilled with the long list of flavors, including some with local fruit (reminding me of Cows Creamery). 

Visitor’s should note that they only allow one flavor per scoop. Keep that in mind as you make your decisions. 

Here’s what we decided on!

Chocolate – This is super smooth, almost a fudge-like Dutch chocolate. Yum. 

Cow Pie – Same chocolate base as above, with peanut butter cups and a peanut butter swirl. Very tasty. I wouldn’t have minded more peanut butter though. And having homemade peanut butter cups (or at least higher quality ones) would have enhanced this further. 

Cappuccino Delight – It’s like coffee ice cream, but stronger, and with heath bars. Excellent – strong and smooth with great chips. This cappuccino delight is delightful!

The portions here are pricy for what you get, unfortunately, so be prepared. The evening we were there, the crowds seemed to have an attitude, and so did all of the employees but one, who did seem happy as she took our money. 

Be prepared for a strong manure smell. It’s pretty overpowering, worse than any dairy I have been to. 

Their seasonal flavor looked delicious – Delaware Fruit has local peaches and blueberries in it. 

Hopkins Farm Creamery has very tasty ice cream. The overall experience wasn’t our favorite, but we will be happy to give it another try when we are in town. It’s very good!

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.

p.s. Thanks for doing your usual Amazon shopping using my affiliate link!
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