It's no secret that ice cream is my primary food group. For this month's Top 10 list, I'm sharing my best frozen confection discoveries over the past decade. It was incredibly difficult to narrow it down, so I've also included some honorable mentions at the end.
We'll do this David Letterman-style, going from #10, all the way up to #1. Here we go!
10. Hilliards Chocolates (North Easton, MA)
Though I went to college in Norton, MA, just a short ride away from Hilliards Chocolates in North Easton, I had never been there while I was a student. It's a shame I didn't discover it then, because this candy shop opens a seasonal ice cream pop-up every summer and let me tell you, their flavors are delicious.
Because Hilliards makes all their own candy, they can mix those sugary delights into the ice cream. These people are serious about their sweets! I've tried many flavors and the best ones are: Chewy cashew turtle soup, Cherry cordial, Coconut almond delight, Swamp (vanilla ice cream with M&Ms, malted milk balls, sandwich cookies, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips and brownies) and Peppermint stick.
Because this is about an hour drive from my house, I've learned to head there with a cooler in the trunk, so I can stock up and keep all my pints frozen on the ride home!
9. Crescent Ridge (Boston, MA and Sharon, MA)
Crescent Ridge has been a local favorite in Southern Massachusetts for quite some time. Their farm and ice cream shop in Sharon, MA is always packed. Now, city dwellers can enjoy it too, at their stall in the Boston Public Market.
Moose tracks is a really popular choice - a blend of chocolate and vanilla ice cream, swirled with peanut butter cups.
My favorite is the Salted caramel pretzel, which is vanilla ice cream, ribbons of caramel sauce and chocolate-covered pretzels.
Crescent Ridge makes some of the creamiest ice cream I have ever tasted. You can't make a bad flavor choice!
8. Honeycomb Creamery (Cambridge, MA)
To me, Honeycomb is a total sleeper. Whenever I talk to someone who lives in Cambridge or Somerville about the shop and they haven't heard of it, I scream back, "How can that be???"
In the words of the Notorious B.I.G., "If you don't know, now you know."
Honeycomb was started by husband and wife team Rory Hanlon and Kristen Rummel. They founded the business in 2015, making ice cream from milk that comes from Mapleline Farm in Hadley, MA. They would sell their pints at farmers markets and events, dreaming of one day also owning a shop. That dream became reality in September 2016.
The best flavor I've had is one of their fall specials, Chocolate Pecan Penuche. It takes like a frozen version of chocolate pecan pie.
You can add a torched marshmallow to any scoop, which I highly recommend.
They torch it right in front of you, which is very fun for kids (and adults too!).
Follow @honeycombcreamery on Instagram to see all their new flavors, and their weekly Taco Tuesday specials. Think Choco Taco, but way more creative and whimsical combinations.
7. Scoop 'N Scootery (Arlington, MA)
I also recently learned of the magic of Scoop 'N Scootery on Mass Ave in Arlington, MA. While their main source of income is delivery (their website proudly boasts "We deliver sundaes until 2:00am!"), they do have a small scoop shop you can visit after a movie at the Capitol Theatre or dinner at one of the nearby restaurants.
On my first visit, I was completely overwhelmed by the menu. I wound up ordering the Granddaddy, which was Black raspberry cookie swirl ice cream topped with chocolate chip cookie bites, Oreo crumble and whipped cream.
The second time I went, I tried the Black Heart, which was fantastic. It was German chocolate cake ice cream with strawberries, chocolate fudge, chocolate chips and whipped cream.
These servings are enormous and packed with toppings. You could absolutely eat one of these for dinner!
6. Frozen Hoagies (Somerville, MA)
I love me an ice cream sandwich, especially when I get to pick the cookies and the ice cream flavor! Frozen Hoagies is a DIY sandwich Mecca, where the customization options are endless and the portion sizes are huge.
I've tried so many combinations, but the two best have been the chocolate chip cookie with coffee Oreo ice cream, and the fudge brownie cookie with mint chip ice cream.
Just typing this is making me want another one!
5. JP Licks (9 locations across MA)
I grew up on JP Licks ice cream. There was a shop in Newton Centre, MA where I spent most of my evenings in high school. We'd often have their ice cream cakes for birthdays, and when my parents visit Boston now, they always request a stop at JP Licks as part of the itinerary.
Personally, I think Coffee Oreo is the best flavor, but they have so many options and creative specials too. They usually do a bunch of chocolate and mint combinations in March for St. Patrick's Day, and I rush there to enjoy those flavors for those 31 days.
Nowadays, I find myself popping over there after a movie at the Somerville Theater. It's fun to sit outside at one of the tables right in the heart of Davis Square and people watch.
4. Dairy Witch (Salem, MA)
I would drive to Salem, MA and back, just to have a Dairy Witch sundae. I started following them on Instagram, @dairywitchicecream, long before I had ever visited in person. Each week they share a new ice cream sundae special, and I flew up there to get the royal wedding sundae, in honor of Meghan and Harry's nuptials back in May 2018.
Their current special is the Caramel mocha latte sundae, which is layer of chocolate soft serve, a layer of coffee soft serve, caramel sauce, coffee syrup, Heath bar, chocolate sprinkles, whipped cream and nuts. I mean, come on!
If you are planning to head up to Salem this year to partake in the Halloween festivities, you've got to hit up the Dairy Witch on your way in or out of town.
3. Great Shakes (Palm Springs, CA)
While on a girls trip to Palm Springs, CA last summer, I had the chance experience Great Shakes, a local favorite. Let me begin by saying that every single milkshake is garnished with a mini donut on the straw. You had me at hello.
The shop has a diner vibe to it, and I wanted to steal this poster right off the wall.
The shake flavor options are endless. So much so, they take up an entire wall!
I decided on mint Oreo, which was a decadent and refreshing choice in the 110 degree heat.
If I lived in Palm Springs, I would head here after a hard day at work to reward myself!
2. Lulu's (Miami, FL)
I have a lot of food obsessions in Miami, FL, but when it comes to ice cream, Lulu is my gal. The idea for the business came from the mind of founder Luisa Santos. She strongly believed she could make delicious ice cream using liquid nitrogen. She entered the concept into a startup competition at her alma mater, Georgetown University, and won!
In 2015, she opened her first location in downtown Miami. In addition to bringing superior ice cream to the Magic City, she also offers all of her employees training in personal finance and social entrepreneurship.
Over the years, I've tried dozens of flavors, but my go-to order these days in one scoop Nutella, one scoop Dulce de leche, topped with waffle cone bits.
I'm headed to Miami four more times before the end of the year, and I plan to hit up Lulu's on each and every visit!
1. New City Microcreamery (Cambridge, MA and Hudson, MA)
I tell anyone who will listen to me about the magic of New City Microcreamery. I made my first visit in September 2015 and I was completely charmed. Their space in Hudson, MA is so warm and inviting, and their roster of flavors is unparalleled.
When they opened in Cambridge last year, I was elated! I couldn't believe I could hit up their new spot every night on the way home from work. I purposefully make dinner plans with friends that will put me in walking distance from the Cambridge shop.
All of their ice cream is made with liquid nitrogen, which seals in the purity of the ingredients. It basically flash freezes them into permanent deliciousness.
My favorite flavors are Vanilla bourbon, Creme brûlée, Chocolate almond croissant and Cake batter. Their version of Cake batter is the only one I've ever tasted that isn't sickeningly sweet.
If you live in the Boston area and you haven't been yet, make this part of your Labor Day plans!
That brings us to the end of the official list, but I do have quite a few honorable mentions:
- Cabot's (Newtonville, MA)
- Christina's (Cambridge, MA)
- Kimball Farm (Westford, MA)
- Maple Valley (Hadley, MA)
- Moozy's (Belmont, MA)
- Pizzi Farm (Waltham, MA)
- Rancatore's (3 locations in MA: Belmont, Lexington, Newtonville)
- Salt & Straw (7 West Coast locations)
- Toscanini's (Cambridge, MA)
Tell me, did your favorite spot make the list? Is there somewhere I absolutely must try?