Frozen Philly: Our picks for 15 great ice cream and frozen treats

The Nutty Buddy ice cream dessert as created by Wister chef Benjamin Moore.

For the ice cream aficionado, there’s an embarrassment of riches in Philly’s dessert scene right now. Not only do we have some of the best artisan makers (paging Capogiro, Little Baby’s, Weckerly’s, and Zsa’s) and neighborhood mainstays (Custard & Cakes Creamery, Scoop de Ville, oWowCow Creamery, More Than Just Ice Cream) — we also have pastry chefs who are churning out pure frozen deliciousness in restaurants. (Plus, we’re the birthplace of the Choco Taco, arguably the best ice cream novelty ever made, invented by Alan Drazen of Jack & Jill Ice Cream.) In the spirit of getting it all in before the end of summer, here’s a rundown of the absolute must-slurp ice cream confections around town.

 

Drinkable Ice Cream

Amaro Float at a.kitchen

Finally, a float for cocktail geeks. a.kitchen’s dessert marries homemade almond ice cream with a splash of soda water and herby Averna Amaro, served in a rocks glass and topped with  Luxardo cherries because this is, after all, still dessert.

135 S. 18th St., 215-825-7030, www.akitchenandbar.com

Camera icon Michael Bryant
The Amora Float at a.kitchen, made of almond ice cream, Amora cordial, and club soda, with cherries as a garnish.

Honey Graham milk shake at Frankford Hall

Stephen Starr’s German biergarten will serve the milk shakes with or without booze, but the boost of bärenjäger puts this concoction of honey, graham cracker, and vanilla ice cream over the edge into sweet oblivion.

1210 Frankford Ave., 215-634-3338, www.frankfordhall.com

 

Tehini milk shake at Goldie

These vegan beauties — available in plain, chocolate, Turkish coffee, and coconut flavors — rely on sesame paste for their creaminess quotient and, after a taste, it’s clear why they’re a mainstay of Cook N Solo’s falafel joint.

1526 Sansom St., 267-239-0777, www.goldiefalafel.com

Camera icon Margo Reed
The original tehini milk shake at Goldie.

Pie milk shake at Magpie Artisan Pies

Pies make at foundation for excellent milk shakes, and any of the seasonal selections here (blueberry crumb, butterscotch bourbon, key lime strawberry) can be churned up with Bassett’s vanilla ice cream and served in a mason jar with a straw and a spoon.

1622 South St., 267-519-2904, www.iluvmagpie.com

 

Novelties and Handhelds

Nutty Buddy at Wister

Wister takes all the flavors of a classic peanuty cone and turns them into a spoon-and-bowl affair, with chocolate peanut ganache-filled mini-cones, chocolate ice cream from Franklin Fountain, hot fudge, salted caramel, and whipped cream gilding the lily.

26 N. 3rd St., 267-239-5900, www.wisterbyob.com

 

Profiterole trio at Slate Bleu

An array of daily house-churned ice creams are one of the highlights of this bistro, where chef Mark Matyas serves them in classic French style as a mixed-flavor trio sandwiched inside profiteroles. Caramel and espresso flavors are popular, but don’t miss the Armagnac-prune-rum raisin for the continental set.

100 S. Main St. Doylestown, 215-348-0222

Camera icon David Swanson
The Profiterole Trio at Slate Bleu.

Dulce de leche ice cream sandwich at Red Owl Tavern

“Ice cream sandwich” belies the size and texture of this treat, which is really meant to be shared: Franklin Fountain caramelized banana ice cream is packed in between two fudgy-textured blondies with a dulce de leche ganache, all of which is plated with a swirl of salted caramel and a sprinkle of caramel popcorn.

433 Chestnut St., 215-923-2267, www.redowltavern.com

 

American Globs cone at Big Gay Ice Cream

Though the name also serves as something of a warning, this cone — topped with pretzel-studded ice cream and draped in chocolate — has achieved iconic status.

521 S. Broad St., 267-886-8024, www.biggayicecream.com

 

Tall Charlie at Sweet Charlie’s

Because it’s really not enough to have Thai rolled ice cream with toppings like Nutella and banana artfully massaged into it, the trademarked Tall Charlie sets said ice cream inside a glazed doughnut.

711 Walnut St., 267-657-3168, www.sweetcharlies.com

 

Sundaes

S’mores sundae at Bud & Marilyn’s

S’mores flavors are big in the dessert world now, but this sundae, with toasted marshmallow ice cream, smoked bourbon hot fudge, and graham cracker crumble, almost makes the original campfire treat seem obsolete.

1234 Locust St., 215-546-2220, www.budandmarilyns.com

 

Black and Tan sundae at Friday Saturday Sunday

Brownie meets brown-butter blondie meets vanilla ice cream meets whipped caramel meets dark chocolate meets crispy rice nougatine in a texture and flavor freak-out that’s richly satisfying but just surprising enough to keep it interesting.

261 S. 21st St., 215-546-4232, www.fridaysaturdaysunday.com

 

Signature sundae at Autograph Brasserie

The mason jar overfloweth at Wayne’s Autograph with the house signature sundae, which basically contains every delicious thing ever, jumbled up for maximum sugar rush: milk chocolate pretzel bark, candied peanuts, brownie, blondie, peanut butter cookie, and dulce de leche ice cream.

503 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, 610-694-2588, www.autographbrasserie.com

Camera icon David Maialetti
The “Signature Sundae” at Autograph Brasserie.

Flavors to Remember

Soft serve at V Street

The nondairy ice cream concoctions at V Street probably deserve their own storefront, but for now, dessert merits a special stop for one of the daily flavors that might include vanilla marshmallow or halvah and associated toppings.

126 S. 19th St., 214-278-7943, www.vstreetfood.com

 

Housemade flavors at Kanella South

The ice cream game at Kanella has always been on point, and changing selections like orange cardamom, Greek coffee, and honey laurel capture the rich flavor palate of this Greek-Cypriot kitchen.

757 S. Front St., 215-644-8949

 

Honeycomb ice cream at Franklin Fountain

It’s hard to boil down the multitude of binge-worthy treats at Franklin to just one, but the house specialty of local honey ice cream flecked with honeycomb candy comes and goes with the season, so that makes it a bucket list shoo-in.

116 Market St., 215-627-1899, www.franklinfountain.com

Camera icon Craig LaBan
A cone of Honeycomb from the Franklin Fountain.

Ice cream flight at Tubby Robot Ice Cream Factory

Why pick one flavor or hover around begging for samples with those teeny tiny shovel-spoons when Manayunk’s Tubby Robot serves up a flight of your choosing that could incorporate its ridiculously smooth lavender honey, chocolate-covered strawberry, and/or a stellar rendition of cookies and cream?

4369 Main St., 267-423-4376, www.tubbyrobot.com


Chocolate Tacos

Makes 6-8 servings

INGREDIENTS

For the taco shells:
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the skillet
1/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 egg whites
For the fillings and toppings:
10 ounces dark chocolate chips
3 tablespoons coconut oil
4 to 6 cups fudge swirl Ice cream, softened
1/2 cup crushed nuts, plus any other desired toppings

DIRECTIONS

1. To make the taco shells, cover 6 to 8 hardcover books that are 1 inch thick with parchment paper. Stand them up vertically, spine up. These are your shell molds.
2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter, milk, 1 tablespoon water, almond extract and vanilla, followed by the egg whites. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ones.
3. Warm a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Butter the skillet and then spoon in 2½ tablespoons of batter. Spread the batter gently with the back of a spoon or offset spatula so you have an even circle. Cook until slightly brown on the bottom, 3 to 5 minutes. Flip and cook until slightly brown on the second side, 1 to 2 minutes more. With a spatula, gently fold the shell over the spine of the book and let cool. Repeat with the remaining batter, adding butter to the pan as needed.
4. Melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil in the microwave in 30-second increments, stirring between each. Let cool slightly.
5. Fill the taco shells with ice cream, drizzle with as much chocolate as you wish, top with the nuts, and enjoy! You can freeze uncovered for a few minutes to let the chocolate harden; the tacos will also keep, wrapped in plastic wrap, in the freezer for up to 2 months.

From Food52 Ice Cream & Friends: 60 Recipes & Riffs by the Editors of Food52, (Ten Speed Press, 2017)

Per taco (based on 8): 525 calories, 10 grams protein, 59 grams carbohydrates, 44 grams sugar, 31 grams fat, 58 milligrams cholesterol, 117 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber.


Honey Graham Milkshake

Makes 1 serving

INGREDIENTS

6 ounces vanilla ice cream
2 ounces whole milk
1 whole graham cracker
1/4 ounce honey
1 ounce Barenjager liqueur
Whipped cream, for garnish
Graham cracker, for garnish

DIRECTIONS

1.  Combine ice cream, milk, graham cracker, honey and liqueur in a blender and blend until smooth, adding more ice cream or milk for desired consistency. Pour into a glass and garnish with whipped cream and a graham cracker before serving.

 

Per serving: 1,013 calories, 18 grams protein, 126 grams carbohydrates, 102 grams sugar, 48 grams fat, 186 milligrams cholesterol, 514 milligrams sodium, 4 grams dietary fiber.