Soft serve perfection

If you know me, you know I love soft serve ice cream and eat a ton of it, so you should take it seriously when I say some of the best soft serve in this city is in the Flatiron District and as soon as you’re done reading this, you should go there and get some. If you don’t live here, A.) good for you, you probably have a healthy lifestyle and live in a beautiful home that you paid peanuts for, but B.) maybe you should come visit just to try this soft serve and maybe to feel good about living somewhere that isn’t overrun by rats.  

I’ve already mentioned this place before (refresh your memory here) because the last soft serve I had that was this damn good was actually from the same place: Made Nice, the fast-casual spot from the people behind Eleven Madison Park and The Nomad (i.e. two of the best fine dining establishments in the city, for those of you who don’t wile away your hours on food media.) It was with that soft serve in mind that I went to Made Nice, but then decided to get their other option, something I don’t remember being on the menu the last time I was there, and OH MAN was that a good idea. 

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I want to eat you forever, soft serve.

First of all, yes, it is comically unphotogenic, or at least it is in the iPhone photos I took. While you might first look at it and think, wait, what is that, I promise it’s infinitely better than the over-the-top, cartoonish viral sensations you see on Instagram and the like.

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A perfect bite. 

It’s a pretty generous cup (which already right there, had me cause I’m not a cone girl) of thick, creamy chocolate soft serve, covered in a praline shell with hazelnut crumble and plump, tender roasted bananas. As someone who loves a variety of textures and flavors in her foods, it was perfection. Cold soft serve and warm bananas, rich chocolate and caramelized sweetness, crunchiness and creaminess. Also, having grown up in Miami in a half-Hispanic household, fried sweet plantains were a staple, and the oily, sweet, mushy ones were, and still are, my favorite. The roasted bananas here, while not exactly Instagram-bait, were reminiscent of the ones I love and because they were sweeter, I loved them even more.

I haven’t felt motivated to write here in weeks, but as soon as I cracked into that praline shell and ate a spoonful of soft serve, I knew I had to tell you about it. Trust me, don’t sleep on this one. I know what I’m talking about.

The land of Milk and Honey… soft serve

I grew up going to church as a kid, pretty much up until I moved out and went to college, so I’ve read a decent amount of the Bible over the years.

Of all the things to take away from the Good Book, it was one repeated mention that always struck me: milk and honey. It seemed someone was always being delivered from oppression and being promised a land of milk and honey. Streets would flow with milk and honey. If you were good, you could have eternal salvation… and all you can drink milk and honey.

The combo always confused me. Was milk and honey a thing? I was more of a chocolate milk girl myself. Wouldn’t that be weird, to live somewhere flowing with milk and honey? I mean, are we talking waterfalls? Rivers? Could there be floods if there were too much milk and honey?

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Cue the trumpet-playing angels!

Well, let me tell you, dear reader, I’ve come to spread the good word: I FINALLY GET IT. After having the milk and honey soft serve at Made Nice, I can now fully imagine what kind of idyllic paradise would be flowing with the stuff.

The milk flavored soft serve at Made Nice is rich and creamy, like a cold glass of whole milk, and not extra-sweetened like a vanilla soft serve might be. And really the subtlety here is in support of letting the toppings shine because along with adding lots of interesting, fun textures, they’re what make this a delicious godsend. Honey brittle and shortbread add a crunchy, crumbly richness while the milk meringue plays up the cream flavor with a crispy edge, and the buckwheat honey and sprinkle of sea salt round everything out and give it an earthy, flavorful depth.

Everyone imagines heaven differently, but it’s safe to say in my version, there’s definitely an endless supply of these milk and honey soft serve sundaes. Calorie free, obviously.

You had me at butter croissant soft serve

The internet is full of wild, over the top food creations, each one trying to outdo the others in terms of flavor combinations, toppings, colors, or size. Most of the time, when I see them on Instagram or other sites, I scroll on by, shrugging as I go, sometimes amused but otherwise uninterested.

But let me be real clear, that is NOT what happened when I read about a croissant butter soft serve at Supermoon Bakehouse in the Lower East Side. My eyes widened, my mouth watered, and I immediately checked which train would get me there fastest as soon as I left work that day.

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Doin’ it for the Gram… and for my insane sweet tooth.

looove soft serve ice cream, and last week when New York was hotter than Satan’s armpit, I would’ve been happy to eat it for every meal. I also love a good plain buttery croissant, which is what really got my attention here. Sure almond is great and chocolate is obviously in a league of its own but a classic croissant with it’s soft middle and buttery, flaky outside is just the best. So a dessert that combined both? C’mon. I HAD TO.

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Eggnog makes it better

Not only was I leaving the side hustle where I’d spent all morning to trek all the way uptown to my real job, but the weather was of the miserable variety best enjoyed in bed—dreary, chilly, raining—when I passed the colorful window of Big Gay Ice Cream‘s West Village shop.

C’mon, you know how this ends. There was no way I wasn’t going in.

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It’s eggnog season, kids!

And dammit, I was SO happy I did, because in addition to their usual assortment of awesome, their flavor of the day was… drumroll please… EGGNOG. (I did cartwheels and celebratory dances in my head.)

I love the stuff, regardless of how fattening or sugary it is, and can’t get enough of it during the holiday season (which thank God we are fully in right now.) Big Gay’s was almost mousse-like in it’s fluffy, light texture while simultaneously having the thick, creamy sweetness of a good, classic eggnog.

Even though my new shoes got wet, my hair frizzed, and the rain backed up all the trains and made me late to work, I wasn’t too concerned, not with one of my favorite holiday treats in soft serve form in hand.

Nostalgia flavored dessert

Many moons ago, when I lived in Italy and had a boyfriend, (boy, those were different times!)  he and his friends used to regularly host dinner parties where everyone would pitch in and do their part: prepping, cooking, pouring wine, cleaning afterward.

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Coke float in soft serve form.

One summer night, when it was hotter than the innermost circles of Dante’s inferno, and we had decided to eat outside, I suggested we make Coke floats for dessert.

No sooner had I announced my idea than I was met with a mix of blank stares and looks of horror. “Un’ americanata!” said one of my then boyfriend’s more gluttonous friends, a guy who refused to drink water and subsisted off soda and fruit juice instead, suggesting that the concept of mixing Coke with vanilla ice cream was so outrageous that only a fat American could’ve come up with it.

What happened next should come as a surprise to no one: I made them, they loved them. Point for America.

Coke floats are something I’ve loved since I was a kid. My sister and I would find the tallest glasses in the cupboard, toss in a few scoops of vanilla ice cream and then pour fizzy, cold Coke (we were never Pepsi girls) over the ice cream, watching the creamy, cola colored foam rise up to the top, frothy and delicious.

So during my sister’s recent visit, even though we were full from brunch, we had to stop at Momofuku Milk Bar whose sign outside said four magic words: Coke float soft serve.

Anyone who’s ever had Milk Bar’s famous cereal milk soft serve knows that’s unmistakably what it tastes like. With this new coke float flavor, chef, founder and Milk Bar owner Christina Tosi, absolutely did it again. Closing my eyes, I could swear I was back in my childhood kitchen slurping a float with my sister or sitting on that sun-baked terrace outside of Florence, enjoying not just the frosty dessert drink but the pleasure of proving an Italian wrong.

Burrata brilliance

Let’s just get right into it cause every moment you spend reading about anything other than BURRATA SOFT SERVE is a moment of your life that you are not living right.

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Burrata in a whole new delicious form.

Slight exaggeration? Yea, maybe, but let’s go back to that and repeat after me: burrata soft serve. Cue the clouds parting and a choir of angels singing and blowing their trumpets and the one playing the harp actually busting strings, cause again: burrata soft serve.

On the off chance you don’t know what burrata is, it’s a milky, semi-soft Italian cheese, kind of like mozzarella’s slightly sexier, cooler cousin. It’s actually made from mozzarella, but it’s creamier and more spreadable on the inside. If you don’t have lactose allergies and have functioning taste buds, you know how awesome burrata is.

It’s completely wonderful on it’s own but at Dominique Ansel Kitchen you can revel in its deliciousness in an untraditional form: soft serve ice cream. Piled high into a beautiful swirl of creamy goodness with just a subtle hint of tanginess in place of a more common vanilla base flavor, but not as sour as plain yogurt, the soft serve comes in a thick, not too crunchy but almost cookie like cone, delicately drizzled with balsamic caramel and sprinkled with little sprigs of microbasil. I wasn’t sure whether the teeny basil leaves were decorative or not but I ate them with my big mouthfuls of creamy, cold soft serve and they were delicious, bright and peppery.

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I don’t normally like surprises, but strawberry confit? I’ll take that any day!

But then, just as I approached the bottom of the cone, that sweet container of the final remnants of ice cream, I was hit with one last surprise: strawberry confit. Several juicy, plump, roasted strawberries just sitting in their milky, sweet soft serve. It was like an encore at an already awesome concert or an after-the-credits hidden scene after a great movie.

Cause if you ask me, there’s no such thing as too much of a good thing when it comes to ice cream. Just keep it coming. I’m looking at you, burrata soft serve.