We Try the New Artisan Collection at 16 Handles

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Clockwise from top right: So Fresh Mango Sorbetto; Coney Island Crunch; Mint Chocolate Chip; Brown Butter Blondie; Tahitian Vanilla Bean; Banana Chips Foster. [Photograph: Lauren Rothman]

Did you know that June is frozen yogurt month? No? I didn't either until a few weeks ago. That's when I received an email from the friendly folks at 16 Handles announcing the debut of three new "artisanal" flavors of fro-yo from the popular serve-yourself frozen dessert chain. Now, I certainly don't need any prompting from the calendar when it comes to eating ice cream—I begin consuming at least a cone a week as soon as the weather warms—but the company's promise of Tahitian Vanilla Bean, Mint Chocolate Chip, and So Fresh Mango Sorbetto was incentive to up my intake. I stopped by the store's Kips Bay location to check out the new offerings.

The last time I visited 16 Handles, I was truly surprised (and impressed) by the quality of the chain's frozen yogurt: flavors tend to be true to their name and not overly sweet or artificial-tasting. Such was the case, again, with the store's new flavors.

So Fresh Mango Sorbetto (pictured at top, in the back of the cup) was the standout of the bunch: it had a bright, clean, intense mango flavor, but what set this sorbet apart was its dreamily creamy texture: so smooth and dense, with nary an ice crystal in sight.

Mint Chocolate Chip (pictured at top, in the front of the cup) is my very favorite ice cream flavor, so 16 Handles had some high expectations to meet with this one. The frozen yogurt's flavor was great—deliciously minty, without veering into "toothpaste" territory as mint-flavored foods sometimes can—but I was disappointed at the sheer lack of the titular chocolate chips. A few tiny dark-brown specks in the yogurt suggested the presence of chocolate, but I sure couldn't taste any. Still, though, this is a nice mint frozen yogurt.

Tahitian Vanilla Bean rivaled the mango sorbet in both its flavor and texture: it was ultra-vanilla-y in a lushly fragrant way that certainly suggested the presence of true vanilla beans, and had a velvety texture. Just like a woman you might see on a TCBY commercial, I literally thought to myself as I ate it, "Can this really be frozen yogurt and not ice cream?"

16 Handles has also rolled out three new toppings: Coney Island Crunch, a blend of sweet-salty snacks including potato chips, pretzels, and graham crackers; Brown Butter Blondies; and Banana Chips Foster, banana chips coated in brown sugar. I didn't like any of them: the Crunch leaned way too heavily in the salty direction and not enough towards the sweet; the blondie tasted more like a pound cake, albeit a too-spongy one; and the banana chips were blandly sweet. Next time, I'll stick with 16 Handles' more straightforwardly indulgent toppings like mini M&Ms and peanut butter cups, or, oh yeah, all that healthy fresh fruit.

About the author: Lauren Rothman is a former Serious Eats intern, a freelance catering chef, and an obsessive chronicler of all things culinary. Try the original recipes on her blog, For the Love of Food, and follow her on Twitter @Lochina186.

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