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ice creamA scoop of cinnamon and a scoop of caramel in a gingerbread cookie dough cup (the recipe: just drape any cookie dough over a Pyrex custard cup, make “hospital corners,” and bake). Drizzle the plate with caramel and add a few toasted or candied walnuts or marrons glacées. Photo by Marcin Bania | IST.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

KAREN HOCHMAN is Editorial Director of THE NIBBLE, and an ice cream critic who has been churning her own for 25 years. The first flavor she produced was Grand Marnier.

 

December 2005
Updated December 2009

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Ice Cream & Sorbet

Graeter’s Ice Cream

Page 2: Ice Cream Flavors

 

This is Page 2 of a two-page article. Click on the black link below to visit Page 1.

 

Graeter’s Ice Cream Flavors

Graeter’s hovers at the edge of potential greatness. Some flavors are superb, some are over-the-top (which is good are bad depending on how you like it), some are just average, like a good supermarket ice cream. Not being a local, we were forced to make a choice of a ten flavors—we wish we could have had all twenty-three. But we saw enough in each group to be able to see the clear delineations. 

The line consists of:

  • 7 Original Flavors: Black Cherry, Butter Pecan, Caramel, Chocolate, Cookies and Cream, Strawberry, Vanilla
  • 10 Signature Flavors: Black Raspberry Chip, Buckeye Blitz, Chocolate Chip, Coconut Chip, Cookie Dough Chip, Mint Chocolate Chip, Mocha Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter Chip, Toffee Chip
  • 3 Sorbets: Lemon, Raspberry, Strawberry
  • Seasonal Flavors: Currently Cinnamon, Egg Nog & Peppermint; last month Apple Cider Sorbet & Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream

Perhaps the most differentiating feature of Graeter’s are the “chocolate chips” in the Signature Flavors. Chocolate “chip” is a misnomer: these are not even chocolate chunks. We would call them chocolate slabs. As you can see in the photo on the previous page, liquid semisweet chocolate is poured into the ice cream as it’s being churned. The chocolate freezes and is shattered into large, irregular pieces—some thick, some thin, some as large as a quarter. A common result is to find yourself with a mouthful of ice cream and chocolate, as if you had popped a piece of chocolate bar in your mouth along with your favorite flavor and are chewing on the chocolate as the ice cream melts. 

This is certainly the most memorable chocolate chip ice cream we’ve ever had. Mint Chocolate Chip was like a chocolate nugget field.  At first, we were enthralled, but four pints of Signature Flavors later we were tired. Perhaps it was too much of a good thing—most people don’t eat four pints of ice cream in a week. But we had signed up for ice cream, not chocolate bar and ice cream. We love excess, but this excess is...excessive. We think if we lived in Graeter’s territory, we would prefer it as an occasional rather than a daily treat.

There are over-the-top flavors to match the excess of chocolate. The company’s number one seller is a vivid Black Raspberry Chip Ice Cream: redolent of raspberry purée, it looks exactly like the photo at the right, and delivers big mouthfuls of chocolate “chips.” This ice cream goes with nothing—just try to serve it with a piece of pie! It even gives the plain cone a run for its money: it demands all the attention for itself. We liked it for its boldness, although given  our choice of a second pint, we might have repaired to the finesse of Spotted Dog Creamery’s Blackberry Chip Ice Cream—a slightly different berry, a much more elegant experience.

Black Raspberry Chip
Graeter’s number one flavor is Black Raspberry Chip

Like an actor who sometimes turns in a great performance, sometimes an enjoyable performance, and sometimes just phones it in, Graeter’s doesn’t play with consistency. Some flavors, like Black Raspberry Chip Ice Cream, chew the scenery; some like Cinnamon Ice Cream and the Apple Cider Sorbet, are elegantly articulated. When we first had the Egg Nog Ice Cream, it used artificial flavor and so crossed over from artist to artist manque (we are assured that the company no longer uses artificial flavor); and Chocolate and Vanilla Ice Cream are so ordinary as to not belong in the same troupe. The variability can be summed up as follows:

Graeter’s pursues small batch production and expensive, labor-intensive techniques and hand-makes chocolate chips, adding a ton of them to the Signature Flavors; yet it eschews basic artisanal techniques like infusing its mint flavors with fresh mint, opting for ordinary peppermint. Thus, it ends up with flavors that are half-there. Peppermint Ice Cream, a seasonal flavor, had large chunks of candy cane but lacked real mint oomph; the beautiful pink color was smoke and mirrors. Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream had an over-generous amount of chocolate “chips” but the mint ice cream was undistinguished.

Where do we stand on Graeter’s?  Ice cream lovers should definitely get to know it. After all, it has been called “the best ice cream in America” by some reviewers. While we think such absolutes are silly (and products so touted rarely if ever make our own list of favorites), every company does some things very well. Graeter’s has proven that it can create truly sublime flavors.  We just need to catch the actor in the right roles.

For our next Graeter’s outing, we’ll check out the highly-recommended Caramel Ice Cream, as well as the Butter Pecan Ice Cream—Oprah and Steadman’s favorite flavor. And a few more on the program we haven’t yet decided upon. We hope to be able to add more bravos! at curtain call.

GRAETER’S ICE CREAM
Premium Ice Cream

More than 20 flavors, listed on website. Price depends on shipping distance from Cincinnati, e.g.:

  • 6 pints to Chicago: $50
  • 10 pints to Chicago: $80
  • 6 pints to New York City, Dallas, LA: $70
  • 10 pints to New York City, Dallas, LA: $110

Purchase online at Graeters.com
or telephone 1.800.721.3323.

pint

*Prices and product availability are verified at publication but are subject to change. Shipping is additional. These items are offered by a third party and THE NIBBLE has no relationship with them. Purchase information is provided as a reader convenience.

Learn More About Ice Cream

everybody loves ice cream The banana split book a month of sundaes
Everybody Loves Ice Cream: The Whole Scoop on America’s Favorite Treat, by Shannon Jackson Arnold is a travel book, a cookbook, and a pop culture history all in one. Whether you’re looking for a great ice cream stand nearby, a recipe for rocky road, or what makes an ice cream "superpremium," you’ll find it here. Click here to purchase or for more information.

The Banana Split Book: Everything There Is To Know About America’s Favorite Dessert, by Michael Turback. A tribute to the 100-year-old ice cream concoction in this collection of trivia, recipes, quotes and photos. Despite Turback’s lighthearted tone and subject matter, this is actually a well-researched and fact-filled reference. Click here to purchase or for more information.

 

A Month of Sundaes, by Michael Turback. A historical book about ice cream, with sundae lore and recipes spread throughout. Follow the history of ice cream in America, from Thomas Jefferson to today’s titans like Ben & Jerry’s. A book for the ice cream obsessed. Click here to purchase or for more information.

 

 

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