There's no denying summer is here in full force. Temperatures have consistently been hovering around ninety for weeks now with no end in sight. Sure, you might be content sitting indoors soaking up the air conditioning, but don't complain when January hits and we're slammed with 15 feet of snow.
Get outside! Enjoy the heat! Air conditioning is for the weak! Well, not really, but we really do enjoy stepping outside and walking into a wall of sunshine and unbearable hotness. Do you know why we love the heat? It gives us an excuse to eat more ice cream!
As you may or may not know, there are plenty of excellent ice cream shops in metro Detroit, many of which are making their own ice cream. More than that, they are experimenting with some unique flavors that can challenge and entice your palate. And just as the craft beer craze has taken full hold of us here in the Mitten State, craft foods have begun to do the exact same thing – and taking things one step further (who doesn't love ice cream, after all) – we're fortunate to have so many local companies creating these wonderfully creamed and iced concoctions. The only question left to ask, I suppose, is – one scoop or two?
Calder Dairy Located south of Detroit in Carleton, Calder Dairy and Farm has been operating since 1946. If you've ever noticed those glass milk jugs in the grocery store, those are Calder's. Since they already have the cows and, by proxy, the milk, it makes sense that they make their own ice cream.
Calder ice cream is rich and creamy with a freshness that few others can boast. Their list of flavors is extensive, but some standouts are Horchata, a traditional Mexican flavor redolent of cinnamon, orange, pineapple and coconut. Coincidentally, order a double scoop with one orange pineapple and one coconut, and be prepared to be amazed at the tropical sensations happening in your mouth.
Ray's Ice Cream It may seem strange to read this, but my memories of Ray's are bittersweet. No, I'm not referring to chocolate, but rather my mom. My mom died approximately four years ago and my first recollections of Ray's Ice Cream had a lot to do with her. Growing up, a half-gallon of Ray's Cinnamon Ice Cream in our freezer was a constant through most of the summer months.
Back then I didn't realize Ray's was being produced in Berkley. Since 1958, Ray's has been producing its special brand of luscious ice cream. In terms of uniqueness, Ray's has flavors like the aforementioned cinnamon, banana, and coconut almond chip. Those aren't off-the-wall flavors, but they're rare enough and really well-made. And, trust me, that cinnamon ice cream is tremendous.
Hudsonville Ice Cream Hudsonville is the old-timer of the group. Started technically in 1895, Hudsonville Creamery began when a group of farmers, who were trying to find a way to better distribute their dairy products, banned together to form a co-op. In 1926, the first six flavors of Hudsonville Ice Cream were made. The rest, as they say, is history. Hudsonville is widely available at many grocery stores like Meijer and Kroger. Over the years they've amassed quite a collection of flavors as well. From their regular flavors like cake batter and Grand Traverse Bay Cherry Fudge to limited edition flavors like pistachio almond and Pure Michigan Caramel Apple.
One of the more unique flavors, however, is Tiger Traxx, which is vanilla ice cream loaded with chocolate covered pretzel baseballs and thick ribbons of fudge. Not only is this a texturally-interesting flavor, but the saltiness from the pretzels is a welcome change from all of the sweetness of the ice cream. Aside from that, it's named for the Detroit Tigers, so there isn't a more apropos flavor to indulge in while watching a Tigers game.
Treat Dreams When discussing unique ice cream, it is impossible not to mention Treat Dreams. Scott Moloney's microcreamery and bakehouse in Ferndale has made its name on Scott's crazy flavors, even tamer varieties like the wildly popular Kooky Monster is different than the norm. Kooky Monster is vanilla ice cream with cookie dough and brownie, but the ice cream is bright blue, a simple but effective touch that makes the name even more appropriate.
Kooky Monster does not push the limits of ice cream at all in comparison to some of their other flavors, however. Scott has been known to produce flavors like Mac & Cheese, Brown Sugar Ham, Hot Jalapeno, and Sunday Breakfast. The latter is maple ice cream blended with bacon and waffle chunks. If eating ice cream for breakfast didn't have such a negative connotation, this would be the perfect mid-morning treat.
Sanders If there is one common link between all of these ice creams, it is how much better they become with the edition of Sanders famous hot fudge. In fact, Sanders has an entire line of ice cream toppings. They also have their own ice cream flavors. It's not uncommon for many restaurant menus in the metro Detroit area to offer hot fudge cream puffs, a light eggy puff pastry filled with ice cream and topped with Sanders hot fudge.
Did you know, however, that Sanders offers that same concoction in scoopable form? This simultaneously unique and classic combination is vanilla ice cream with cream puff pieces and a Sanders fudge ribbon throughout. While it doesn't have the same effect as pouring hot fudge over the warm puff-filled pastry with already melting ice cream, the ice cream is nothing to scoff at and is a perfect substitute if you don't want to turn the oven on during these ninety-degree days.
All of these five brands are available in stores in one form or another, whether it be pints, half gallons or gallons. We didn't mention all of the other fascinating ice cream happening around metro Detroit either. There are plenty of places making gelato, ice cream, and other types of frozen goodies.
When it's normal for the temperature to stay near 90 on a day-to-day basis, it's nice to have something cool to eat. With this list of frozen confections, you should be able to last all summer without ever breaking a sweat. | RDW