This flavor got mixed opinions—some found it too burnt, others too sweet, some just right. The texture is more light and fluffy than richly creamy, melting to a cool, clean caramel on the tongue. Those mixed opinions go to show that everyone has their own caramel threshold for just salty enough.
Ugandan Vanilla Bean
This vanilla also gave us a chance to see what vanilla beans taste like in the absence of eggs. How? Pretty awesome. There's a strong honey flavor on the finish, and floral notes come through clear. This is vanilla worth savoring on its own, no pie or cake or hot fudge sauce required.
"Wow, it actually tastes like coffee," we said. And really good coffee at that. Rounded and roasty, not at all bitter, sweet and milky but deep in coffee flavor. This is café au lait in ice cream form, so good it may even win over the most serious coffee snobs.
Queen City Cayenne
A striking mix of cool, mild milk chocolate and a punch of cayenne with serious—but balanced—kick. This was one of the most well-balanced ice creams we sampled, and a great use of milk chocolate. Just spoon slowly; the heat sneaks up on you.
Brambleberry Crisp Ice Cream
Blackberries and raspberries swirled into vanilla ice cream with toasty oat chunks. We liked the deep fruit flavor of the swirl, but would have preferred better integration into the ice cream. Same goes for the oat chunks—more, smaller pieces, please! And yet this is all gloss. Awesome vanilla ice cream with real fruit is always a plus in our book.
A solid choice for your dark chocolate cravings. Unlike many frozen custards, where chocolate tastes a lot like cold pudding, this version was dark, roasty chocolate all the way through. We were constantly impressed with how clean Jeni's ice creams taste—the flavors all come through bright and unmarred by extra fat. This ice cream is a perfect example.
Cherry Lambic Sorbet
"Now this is what sorbet should taste like," we thought on the first spoonful. Clean and refreshing without an ice crystal in sight. Sour lambic brings a dry complexity to cherries, making this surprisingly winter-appropriate. Some of Jeni's more exotic flavor combinations worked better than others; this was perfect. Serve it plain as the ultimate palate cleanser or on a thick slice of cherry-studded black forest cake.
Brown Butter Almond Brittle
Though sweeter and less nutty than the browned butter we're used to, the almond brittle sings loud and clear. Some of us found it too sweet, but others were happy to have an accessible brown butter and brittle delivery vehicle. Our ten-year-old selves could eat this non-stop.
Lemon Frozen Yogurt
A fresh, clean take on frozen yogurt with loads of lemon flavor. But it's not as tart as others, and the lemon is more zesty and sweet than puckery—think Lemonheads candies instead of freshly squeezed lemon juice. A great light fro-yo for when you don't want something too tart.
The "wildberries" have a fresh, if somewhat generic, fruit flavor rounded out nicely by cream in a way that begs for tea and scones. It's not the most intense ice cream you'll ever have, but it's a good case of honest fruit flavors done well. The lavender, on the other hand, is pitch-perfect: subtle, but just pronounced enough to make the most of the brambly berries.
Mashed banana ice cream with pineapple, pecans, and cinnamon was a lovely mix of tropical flavor and Southern baking sensibility. The banana's vibrant and full-bodied, strong enough to remind you that it really is a tropical fruit. Pecans and cinnamon add the perfect "baked" flavor to this cake. And the pineapple: why don't more ice creams use it?
The full, rich taste of pistachios, so sweet and fresh they taste almost juicy. Honey rounds out the nuts' sweetness and lingers on the finish, like an especially complex baklava.
Out with swirls and chunks! Chocolate and peanut butter long for each other, and here they really get the chance to mingle. The intense peanut base is amply studded with shavings of dark chocolate, small enough to melt on your tongue. Those shavings also add a pleasing, slightly granular texture to the creamy ice cream, reminiscent of a certain peanut butter cup we love.
A savory, ultra-peanutty ice cream with strong chile kick. One taster described it as peanut sauce from a Thai restaurant; after that we couldn't un-taste it. This may be more suited for dipping satay than including in your sundae.
Tres Leches with Here-n-There Cherries
Chunks of cake join an intensely milky base, with candied cherries to liven up the mix. We tasted more cake than ice cream, and would have appreciated more "here" than "there" cherries, which were a far cry from the usual corn syrupy maraschino varieties. When you can't decide if you want ice cream or cake for dessert, reach for this.
Mango Kiwi Special Cake
A blend of mango and kiwi ice creams with chunks of cake strewn in. We'll admit to scratching our heads a little on this one—it's not a combination we've considered before. The mango and kiwi ice creams taste surprisingly—almost alarmingly—of frozen puréed fruit. If you live and die by tropical fruit, consider this your lucky ice cream. If not, the flavors can be a little off-putting, and the wan cake chunks won't convert you.
Icelandic Happy Marriage Cake
Skyr, toasted oat cake chunks, and rhubarb compote didn't quite live up to our oh wow that sounds amazing hopes, but it didn't disappoint either. We would happily enjoy this slightly yogurty ice cream over poundcake or angel food.
Whiskey & Pecans
We love our whiskey at Serious Eats, and we're sweet on pecans, too. So we had high hopes for this flavor. But the whiskey barely makes its presence known (bourbon? rye? we couldn't tell you), and the pecans taste un-toasted, almost raw. Stick to your plain Jane butter pecan instead.
Goat Cheese with Cognac Figs
Tangy goat cheese with jammy figs? Sign us up. Goat cheese ice cream tastes like a cross between custard and frozen yogurt: light but plenty sweet, a little tart but in no way barnyardy. Cognac breathes life into dried, frozen figs, which are bursting with fruit flavor—like Fig Newtons, but better. Something about this screams "after school snack" in the best of ways.
Ice cream like your grandmother's perfume. All the not-sweet-enough mochi chunks in the world couldn't rescue this flavor, which was less floral than wrung-out flower bud.