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Edible Critic: Beyond the Common Cone

May 09, 2017 10:39PM ● Published by John Lehndorff

Your classic American frozen sandwich—the kind with soft chocolate wafers and soft vanilla ice cream—is just a slider compared to the epic sandwiches being created this season at Denver-area ice cream parlors. A cone is a snack. A sandwich is a meal.

Anybody can slap a slab of gelato between two Thin Mint cookies. A legendary ice cream sandwich requires attention to ingredients and a Goldilocks serving temperature: not too frozen and hard to bite, not too warm and melting in your hands. Some area parlors are getting it just right.

Frozen Matter’s Strooper Dooper offers two house-baked stroopwafels with secret syrup centers holding a thick slab of deeply creamy butterscotch ice cream. At Sweet Cooie’s, Ice Cream brioche doughnuts are halved, overfilled with a scoop, and then sizzled in a panini press and served warm with a sweet drizzle.

Frankly, it’s a great time to be a frozen dessert aficionado in the Denver area. A slew of next-generation ice creameries has joined much-loved local spots such as Bonnie Brae Ice Cream and Liks. Many more vegan and coconut- and soy-based lactose-free variations are being scooped along with sorbets and Italian ices.

To help you find the best frozen moments available in the summer swelter, we have compiled a trail guide that includes some great ice cream sandwiches.

ICE CREAM SANDWICH STARS

STROOPER DOOPER ICE CREAM SANDWICH
Frozen Matter in the Uptown neighborhood is full of surprises. It is one of the only shops in the area that pasteurizes its own cream-and-egg-yolk ice cream base. The in-house bakery creates hard-to-find stroopwafel, the buttery Dutch waffle-like cookie with a caramel syrup filling. They make perfect bookends for a slab of artisan ice cream in flavors ranging from butterscotch to surprising saffron almond. Frozen Matter has a liquor license, which means adult delights include beer ice cream floats, orange Campari ice pops, and ice cream and spirits pairing—think Valrhona chocolate ice cream and a shot of local Leopold Bros. Rocky Mountain Blackberry Liqueur. The final surprise? Retrograde, a minuscule night time speakeasy serving craft cocktails, is cleverly hidden behind a standard walk-in freezer door.
FROZEN MATTER
530 E. 19TH AVE., DENVER // FROZENMATTER.COM

GOOEY COOIE ICE CREAM SANDWICH
Like its LoHi older sibling Little Man Ice Cream—the one with the 28-foot cream can and endless lines—Sweet Cooie’s Ice Cream is a calm oasis. The shop’s eye-candy interior design includes eggshell blue walls, a perfect soda fountain recreation, and a picture window into the kitchen where you can see folks making ice cream and the mini shortbread cookies, chocolate eclairs, and brioche doughnuts that are the “bread” for the hearty sandwiches. The Congress Park shop flavor roster always includes the crave-able and highly popular Chocolate Salted Oreo ice cream. Nice touch: Tastes of Vegan Horchata, Lemon Meringue Pie, Blackberry Pineapple Sorbet, and other flavors are offered in small metal teaspoons, not plastic.
SWEET COOIE’S ICE CREAM // 3506 E. 12TH AVE., DENVER // SWEETCOOIES.COM

POP TARTS CRUNCHBERRIES ICE CREAM SANDWICH
Nobody can deny the long-term, intimate relationship between cannabis and ice cream consumption. While some ice cream emporia ignore or wink at the munchies, the owner of Ice Cream Riot on Colfax Avenue embraces it. New Jersey and Philadelphia-raised Jim McNutt has a “Potheads Always Welcome” sign on the wall behind the counter. “We are a cannabis-friendly shop and proud of it,” he says. Some of the former ice cream truck driver’s most famous fun flavors are made with thoroughly pulverized Cheddar Goldfish, Dirty Cookies & Cream, or Fruity Pebbles. “I don’t like big chunks in my ice cream,” McNutt says matter-of-factly. The shelf behind the counter is stacked with a dozen flavors of Pop Tarts, which are used to make two-fisted ice cream sandwiches holding two scoops. Top combo: Strawberry Pop Tarts with Crunch Berries ice cream. McNutt also serves brain freeze-worthy Philly Ice in flavors from root beer to pineapple.
ICE CREAM RIOT // 1238 E. COLFAX AVE., DENVER

THE FLUFFERNUTTER ICE CREAM SANDWICH
Here, Fluffernutter is a variation on a much-loved regional sandwich that was really dessert in disguise: a pair of tender peanut butter cookies spread with marshmallow crème plus a thick slice of hazelnut ice cream. Heifer and the Hen’s other signature sandwiches include a split brownie with peanut butter fudge ice cream. This great, quirky East Boulder shop is known for its imaginative flavors—think Raspberry Shortcake, Goat Milk Cajeta, Avocado Chocolate Chunk, and Blackberry-Star Anise sorbet. The creamery is the brainchild of chef Ian Clark, who owns the celebrated BRU handbuilt ales & eats next door.
HEIFER AND THE HEN ORGANIC CREAMERY // 5290 ARAPAHOE, BOULDER // HEIFERANDTHEHEN.COM
Edible Critic, Lifestyle Denver/Boulder Ice Cream
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