National Ice Cream Day is this Sunday, July 16. Though most will reach for the usual contenders — vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, mint chip — a few scoop shops are going rogue with savory ingredients.
In an age when salt is more than welcome in sweets and is said to even enhance the latter (think salted caramel and potato chip cookies), it only makes sense to push the boundaries of ice cream flavors as well.
But how savory would you go?
Cucumber Ice Cream Used to Be a Thing
Known for their edgy ice creams, the ever-experimental Ice & Vice in New York has just launched a new summer flavor featuring cucumber, lemon verbena and ginger basil seeds (pictured above). Cucumber is technically a fruit, and was actually a popular ice cream and sorbet flavoring in the Victorian period. In Fancy Ices (1894), Agnes Marshall, in a recipe for “cucumber ice,” calls for peeled and seeded cucumbers, sugar, lemon, cream and a cucumber-shaped mold to form the ice cream.
Foie Gras for Dessert, Anyone?
Sam Plotnick, chef/owner of Temporis in Chicago, loves the French delicacy in any form. As a main ingredient in his daring dessert course, foie gras doesn’t turn the ice cream meaty per se, but rather silkier and somehow more luxurious. “Fat liver” is, after all, inherently sweet and rich. Featured in a composed dish with black sesame seeds, passion fruit and a foie gras caramel sauce, Plotnick’s summer creation is a leading example of the savory ice cream trend that’s on the rise today.
The Funkier, the Better
Salt & Straw in Portland, Oregon is famous for their dense, almost butter-like ice cream — but even more so for their fearless limited-edition flavors like dill pickle, blood pudding and even Thanksgiving turkey. Thankfully, classics like pear and blue cheese are available year-round. The pears — Oregon’s state fruit — are grown in Salem, Oregon, and when laced with aged Crater Lake Blue Cheese from a local creamy, result in a sweet and savory ice cream flavor with nuance.
All of the Avocado
Like foie gras, avocado works well as an ice cream flavor (something about the fat). Food Network Kitchen’s take on avocado ice cream is packed with bright avocado flavor and is ridiculously easy to make — no churning required. Top with some flaky sea salt for a sweet and salty finish.
Summer Corn, and the Living Is Easy
As the days get hotter and hotter, the one thing you can be sure of is that corn will be aplenty. Take comfort in that, and in corn desserts, another savory-sweet trend that’s led to genius creations like Christina Tosi’s corn cookies, Daniela Soto-Innes’ corn meringue and this corn ice cream from Food Network Kitchen. After all, it’s called sweet corn for a reason, but it’s recasting it in a new light — as ice cream — that makes this savory ingredient shine that much more.
Photos courtesy of Ice & Vice, Temporis, Susan Suebert, Matt Armendariz and Kang Kim