Sweet Spots

Sweet Spots

You know that compulsion to scrape all the leftover cookie dough off the sides of the mixing bowl and gobble it up? Dan Dubuque does. The owner of Doughlicious on upper State Street is offering up scoops of cookie dough, ice cream-style, as one of this summer’s newest treats. Open since January, Doughlicious is Dubuque’s take on a favorite Texas cookie dough joint from which he licensed the recipes before striking out on his own.

What makes this endeavor safe, as opposed to licking the bowl in your kitchen, is the fact that Doughlicious pasteurizes its eggs and heat-treats its flour. “Both processes use a low heat temperature to kill all bacteria,” Dubuque says. The fact that eggs and flour are still used means the dough tastes the same and can even be taken home and baked.

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Doughlicious’s classic Chocolate Chip flavor is, not surprisingly, the customer favorite, while Dubuque says the sweeter Birthday Cake, with colored sprinkles mixed in, is a hit with the kids. I couldn’t stop scooping my little spoon into a cup of Red Velvet dough. With 12 regular flavors and some seasonal specials, served in cups only ($2.25/$4.50/$7.50), you might have trouble choosing, so you can order up a Sampler Pack ($15) with nine small tastes of your choice. And, in keeping with the traditional ice cream shop, there are cookie dough milkshakes ($7.50) and ice cream sandwiches ($4), as well as bite-sized cookie dough truffles ($2.25). You can order dough to go ($8.50), too, and bake it up at home.

Doughlicious is one of at least four relative newcomers to the local dessert scene. Down on College Street south of the Green, T-Swirl has been open since last July, offering both sweet and savory menu items in folded crepes. In addition to several fruit-forward options, four of T-Swirl’s 26 crepe concoctions star ice cream or gelato. The Chocolate Nut Party ($8.95) is a scoop of chocolate gelato topped with crunchy chocolate “pearls,” rich truffle cubes, almonds and crushed pistachio with chocolate custard cream, chocolate sauce and whipped yogurt hidden in the folds of the fresh-baked crepe with two chocolate pocky sticks garnishing the top. The gelato is rich and dark, the flavors intense. A cardboard cone keeps the whole construction from falling apart.

The Matcha Azuki Bean ($8.95) is a crepe cone of matcha gelato encircled by strawberry slices, lined with matcha custard cream and whipped yogurt and topped with red bean, almonds and more chocolate pocky sticks. I didn’t expect to like this one as much, but it was actually my favorite for its combination of tea, fruit and cream flavors. Still, the crepe itself was the best part, light with a delicate crisp and, in both cases, a little bit overwhelmed by the profusion of flavors packed into it. It’s “ice cream for foodies,” as my husband observed.

As flamboyant as T-Swirl’s crepes are, for the biggest production value you’ll have to visit Milkcraft, open since February on Crown Street, where your ice cream is frozen for you on the spot. Cold fog bursts from liquid nitrogen taps and rolls across the counter like part of a mad science experiment. The liquid nitrogen is then streamed into big electric mixing bowls along with a pour of your favorite ice cream flavor—made in-house daily—and swirled into a creamy single serving.

You can order your ice cream served in Milkcraft’s signature Bubblecones ($7.95)—like cone-shaped waffles with a pattern of mounded bubbles instead of sunken squares. Or your ice cream can become the filling between two pieces of “sweet, hot, sealed glazed bun,” forming a Creameebun ($5.95). Bubblecones are served with a single scoop, but it’s a generous one. Each flavor comes with predetermined toppings; “please no substitutions or cry babies,” the menu says. The PB&J Roasted Banana comes with peanut butter ice cream, a slathering of jam, Reese’s puffs cereal and a mini slice of banana caramelized before your eyes with a blow torch. The Strawberry Sorbet is simpler, just flavorful ice cream delivered in the shape of a big rosette. But what really got my goût was the Blue Cookie Butter with a speculoos cookie crumble over the top. Despite an alarming electric turquoise coloring, I devoured this flavor handily.

Those who aren’t satisfied with Milkcraft’s presentation can add on their own “accessories” for $1.50 each. You can skip the fancy cones and buns and opt for ice cream scoops in a cup instead ($4.95/$6.45/$8.95), or you can choose a cup of in-house soft serve called Milksoft ($3.95/$5.95). Store manager Orlando Algarin says Milkcraft, with three Connecticut locations, also caters to customers with allergies. Those who want to skip the ice cream altogether can just order a Bubblecone slathered with hot fudge or Nutella, Algarin’s recommendations.

To be honest, this is all pretty extra. Which is why the fourth newcomer to the local dessert scene deserves a shout-out, too. Just up Whitney Avenue in Whitneyville, The Soup Girl has just spun off The Scoop Girl, a little counter space down a narrow hallway next to the popular soup shop, where you can get 17 flavors of delicious ice cream and four sorbets produced by Bart’s Ice Cream in Greenfield, Massachusetts (which explains the MASS MoCHA flavor, a play on the art museum MASS MoCA). Some of the flavors are still pretty fancy, like 3 Geeks & a Red Head (“coconut ice cream with dark chocolate chunks, fudge brownies and a red raspberry swirl”). But you can also get old standbys Vanilla, Chocolate, Mint Chocolate Chip, Strawberry and Butter Pecan, served up in a crunchy brown sugar cone (kiddie $3.50, regular $4.50, large $6, pint $8.50) or, for a dollar more, a waffle cone.

You can take your cone outside and sit on a bench on the sidewalk and lick the ice cream drips before they catch your fingers. You can bite off the bottom of the cone and suck your ice cream out if you want. There’s no one in sight frying a crepe or mixing up liquid nitrogen. It’s just you and your ice cream on a summer day.

Written and photographed by Kathy Leonard Czepiel.

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