Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Dark Chocolate and Sweet As Honey Ice Cream in a Chocolate Chip Cone at Ample Hills

My friend Kasey wants to become an ice cream maker.  To that end, she visited New York this weekend to check out a number of ice cream spots.  I met her at a place adored by Leila, Ample Hills.
Photo credit: Kasey
While Leila opted for Chocolate Milk and Cookies with Pumpkin Pie, I opted for Dark Chocolate with Sweet As Honey (sweet cream ice cream with bits of honeycomb in it).

ice cream scientists need to figure out a way to stack scoops horizontally, so both flavors pool up in the cone

So Leila divides ice cream into two categories.  So do I, but they are different ones.  Mine, though, betray my bias.  One category is the artisanal, Brooklyn kind, with a focus on top quality ingredients.  The other is the less pretentious kind, with an emphasis on the end product.

First, I should note that I prefer the latter kind.  The former often does get good quality chocolate.  I don't know what Ample Hills uses, but Van Leeuwen, for example, uses Michel Cluizel chocolate, which is excellent.  But this category also takes its cream very seriously, locally sourcing organic dairy farms or whatever you do when you take cream seriously.  This is not in and of itself bad, but it often lends to creamier, less chocolatey ice cream.

Second, Ample Hills is clearly in the first category of ice creams.  Everything about this place screams "Brooklyn."  I dare you to walk in and try to imagine for 5 seconds that you are in any other part of the world.  You will fail.  And you can't taste the ice cream without realizing the ingredients are quality.

Third, I think this is my favorite version of its type.  Kasey and I both agreed that it had the best texture of any ice cream we'd had in the city.  It was her favorite overall from her trip.  The taste was good, but I think their attempt at tackling so many flavors, as Leila points out, makes it difficult for them to master simple dark chocolate.  It's excellent, and it's far better than the chocolate milk and cookies or any other chocolate flavor they had, but it's still an ice cream lover's chocolate ice cream rather than a chocolate lover's chocolate ice cream.

Bottom Line:  If you are as much an ice cream lover as a chocolate lover, you probably will not find a better place than Ample Hills.

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