The United States produced about 1.53 billion gallons of ice cream and related desserts in 2011, according to data from the USDA. About $3.2 billion worth of that ice cream is eaten in restaurants, and if the summer continues to be as hot as it has been so far, demand for frozen creamy deliciousness should remain robust.
Restaurants are displaying particular creativity these days using ice cream in a classic American favorite: the ice cream sandwich.
Appealing to consumers’ penchant for retro presentations as well as their appreciation of convenience, these mostly handheld items are getting a wide range of special treatments in restaurants this summer.
Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola in New York City is affiliated with Jazz at Lincoln Center and tends to highlight Southern flavors. The restaurant continues that focus with its mudslide ice cream sandwich, which features bourbon pecan ice cream and chocolate cookies for $9.
Island Creek Oyster Bar in Boston uses seasonal fruit for its summertime ice cream sandwich. The $8 item features cherry ice cream and a fresh cherry garnish between triple chocolate mocha cookies.
At Tryst, also in Boston,Paul Turano also focuses on seasonal fruit. He spreads almond macaroons with house-made strawberry-sherry jam and orange ice cream for his $8 sandwich.
Local recipes are reflected in the ice cream sandwich at the Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo in Guanacaste. The “bread” for its version of an ice cream sandwich is made with prestiño, a local fried dough dessert. Inside is dulce de leche, sliced bananas and mangoes along with sorbetera, a frozen delicacy mostly flavored with cinnamon and vanilla. It’s served in banana leaves for $10 for an order of 2.
Rouge Tomate is a restaurant in New York City with its own culinary philosophy called sanitas per escam, Latin for “health through food.” Everything the restaurant serves must be made from food that is sustainably and ethically raised and prepared in a way that is both delicious and good for you. That doesn’t keep it from serving dessert sandwiches, although pastry chef James Distefano uses frozen yogurt instead of ice cream.
Rouge Tomate's 310-calorie Elvis is made with peanut butter cookies and banana frozen yogurt, and the 260-calorie Strawberry Fields is made with strawberry frozen yogurt between two oatmeal cookies. Customers can buy one of them for $3 or three for $8.
At Recette in New York City, pastry chef Christina Lee was inspired by French macarons for her sandwich. She spreads salted pistachio ice cream and cherry jam between two pieces of chocolate meringue and serves it with chocolate-chipotle fondue for $10.
Canton, Mass.-based chain Baskin-Robbins uses vanilla soft serve and chocolate wafers for its sandwich cookies, which are available with or without sprinkles at select locations at a suggested retail price of $6.99 for a pack of six.
Rita’s Italian Ice, based in Trevose, Pa., which specializes in 60 flavors of water ice, makes frozen custard, too, and it sandwiches it between Oreo cookies for a suggested retail price of $6.99 for a pack of four.
Jasper’s Corner Tap & Kitchen in San Francisco uses chocolate cake and coffee toffee ice cream for its sandwich, which is dipped in chocolate. A small version of the item is available for $4 and a full-size sandwich is $8.
Editor's note: This story updates the identification of the pastry chef at Rouge Tomate.