Serious Eats: Sweets
We Try The New Belgian Ice Creams at Wafels & Dinges, NYC
Since its creation in 2007, the Wafels & Dinges truck has been delivering authentic Belgian waffles to NYC. The waffles come topped with anything from speculoos (a popular spread in Belgium that's similar to Nutella but with gingerbread and vanilla instead of chocolate and hazelnuts) to pulled pork.
We are no stranger to their waffle-based, sugary creations, but this summer the crew behind those golden grids is introducing new flavors of ice cream centered around classic Belgian ingredients. I headed uptown to track down the truck and give a few flavors a taste.
The five flavors offered are Tahitian Vanilla, Belgian Madness, Flamboyant Framboise, Speculoos, and Choc-Claude Van Damme. The trucks offer four flavors each day on a rotating basis. You can add a scoop of ice cream to your waffle for an extra $2, or enjoy the ice cream on its own with one free topping in a cup or cone ($5 for a small, $7 for a large).
Unfortunately the Speculoos ice cream was not offered on the day of my visit. I had never tasted this "miracle spread", but spreadable gingerbread sounded like a guaranteed good time. I settled for getting it as an ice cream topping, which, when paired with a scoop of Belgian Madness, ended up being a pretty fantastic way to initiate myself into the speculoos fan club.
Speaking of Belgian Madness, I was baffled when the waffle man mentioned this in his list of available flavors. When I asked what exactly the name means, he gave me a taste and told me to guess. The second it hit my tongue I instantly knew there was beer involved. Turns out the ice cream gets its flavor from Hoegaarden, a Belgian white beer, paired with honey. The result clearly tasted like beer but the honey brought just enough sweetness to prevent any overwhelming alcoholic bitterness. Adding speculoos as a topping proved to be a great match; the sharper ginger helped the honey from becoming too sweet.
The next flavor I tried was the Choc-Claude Van Damme. I love me some chocolate ice cream—the darker the better—so I was near salivating when I went in for my first spoonful. Unfortunately my expectations of deep dark chocolatey goodness were not quite met. Yes, this is a good chocolate ice cream. You can do no wrong by adding it to your waffle or topping it with fresh fruit (or speculoos? I might be addicted). But this flavor will not rock your world. For all the talk of fancy Belgian chocolate being used, this tastes like pretty standard chocolate ice cream and I was hoping for a bit of a richer flavor.
I finished up my tasting with another beer-based treat, the Flamboyant Framboise. This uses Lindemans Framboise, a Belgian raspberry beer, to impart a sweet and tangy flavor. This one tasted less overtly of beer than the Belgian Madness, but I could still detect some hoppiness. The product here is definitely more fruity than bitter, ending up being similar to classic raspberry ice cream. Topping this one with Belgian hot fudge lent a nice contrast to the fruity ice cream, with bonus points for the way the fudge hardened in crisp chocolate shards and created that utopian textural variety.
All in all, the unique ice cream flavors (as in, the beer flavors) offered at the Wafels & Dinges truck are worth a taste this summer, whether in a waffle cone or going all-out on top of a full-sized waffle.
Wafels & Dinges