Who better to
help us review 30-plus ice creams from parlors across the city than a distinguished panel of experts: the Hancock County dairy club, whose members range from ages 5 to 14. Though the taste test induced a sugar buzz among our younger judges, we managed to get a few colorful assessments out of them before the impending crash.
1. Raspberry Fudge Cordial from Alexander’s on the Square, 864 Logan St., Noblesville, 317-773-9177
A dense, custard-like black-raspberry base swirled with fudge and sprinkled with raspberry cordials delivers a balanced yet rich flavor in this blend sourced from Utica, Ohio, and prized amongst Noblesville locals.
Critics’ Comments: An overwhelmingly gloppy texture made even a small spoonful stick to the roof of our mouths, but once we got over the stickiness, the traces of fudge ribbon paired nicely with the understated berry taste.
Kids’ Verdict: Their eyes lit up at first sight of this purple concoction, and although the hunks of chocolatey morsels were relished, their palates quickly dismissed it as “too fruity,” “too fancy,” and “kind of disgusting.”
2. Birthday Cake Capacitor from Sub Zero, 427 Massachusetts Ave., 317-252-0271, subzeroicecream.com
A perennial hit among the Utah-based ice-cream chain’s “Sensations,” this Space Age–sounding flavor marries a birthday party’s worth of classics—cake batter, fudge, and cookie dough—topped off with sprinkles. And since it’s frozen at the counter on Mass Ave with bursts of liquid nitrogen, it is ultra-smooth without any of the graininess of ice crystals.
Critics’ Comments: With so many cloying flavors heaped into one concoction, this one was tooth-achingly sweet, like a bad birthday memory from our childhoods. We could hardly make it through a few bites.
Kids’ Verdict: Several said this one tasted like someone put frosting into a blender and served it. “If someone ate this when they were sad, they would get a bellyache and get more depressed,” said one of the most honest members of our panel.
3. Horchata from Wyliepalooza, 5535 E. Washington St., 317-351-0275; 1022 E. Main St., Brownsburg, 317-350-2467, wyliepalooza.com
Sourced from Madison, Wisconsin’s Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream and served at Wyliepalooza’s Irvington and Brownsburg locations, this “super-premium” blend with a hint of cinnamon recalls the rice-based Mexican drink, even though it doesn’t contain any rice.
Critics’ Comments: A nice twist on vanilla with undertones of cinnamon that weren’t overpowering. It could make for a killer milkshake mixed with rice or almond milk.
Kids’ Verdict: We kept our definition of horchata purposefully vague—but nothing sold them on what they labeled an “adult flavor.” “It tastes like someone put poison in my ice cream,” said one of the appalled middle-schoolers.
4. Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie from Handel’s, 2466 E. 146th St., 317-705-1855; 8760 E. 116th St., Fishers, 317-585-8065, handelsicecream.com
The big, cakey brownie bites and ripple of peanut butter threaten to crowd out the actual ice cream in this salty-sweet pairing from the Youngstown, Ohio–based
ice-cream shop with locations in Carmel and Fishers.
Critics’ Comments: We loved that Handel’s isn’t shy with all it packs into this one, but the pint we bought was almost more brownie than ice cream, and the peanut-butter flavor was so strong we could hardly savor anything else.
Kids’ Verdict: After spooning out every last bite, they sported giant chocolate mustaches and raved about the brownie bits, asserting that the richness of the peanut butter resembled that of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.
Classic Chocolate Throwdown
5. Dutch Chocolate from Traders Point Creamery, 9101 Moore Rd., Zionsville, 317-733-1700, tpforganics.com
Non-homogenized milk and cream from grass-fed cows create a crisp, clean-tasting foundation for a mild version of chocolate.
6. Dark Chocolate from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, jenis.com, sold at Fresh Market
Plenty of bittersweet chocolate and cocoa powder team up for intense bursts of decadent flavor and a somewhat drier mouthfeel in this ice cream from Columbus, Ohio’s renowned maker.
7. Key Lime Pie from Brics, 901 E. 64th St., 317-257-5757, bricsindy.com
The flavors of the classic South Florida dessert get expressed in spades in this bright and tangy delicacy sourced from the treasured Sherman’s in South Haven, Michigan, and dished out at Brics in Broad Ripple. Big, sweet hunks of graham-cracker crust complete the package.
Critics’ Comments: The chunks of graham more than satisfied those of us who don’t mind consuming ice cream with a unique composition. Though the bracing lime bite was a bit much, we appreciated how refreshing this one was—a perfect reason to pop over to this stop along the Monon Trail after a jog or a bike ride.
Kids’ Verdict: Only three said they would buy this one, while the others turned up their noses, deeming it “too sophisticated and strong.”
8. Graham Central Station from Sundaes, 9922 E. 79th St., 317-570-0533, sundaeshomemade.com
Concocted with a liquid graham-cracker base, this sweet but restrained flavor has been one of the signature recipes for almost 10 years at Steve and David Buckner’s Geist-area ice-cream homage to their father, who operated Swensen’s restaurant in the Glendale area. Chunks of honeycomb crunch coated in chocolate round out the graham additive.
Critics’ Comments: The velvety texture and crunchy bits of graham cracker literally melted in our mouths. A straightforward flavor with just enough mix-ins to keep it interesting.
Kids’ Verdict: The very astute 13-year-old said the s’more-like quality reminded him of his (not-so-distant) childhood, while the adorable 5- and 6-year-old girls smacked their lips and said, “We’re in love with this one.”
9. Dutch Milk Chocolate from Graeter’s, 5560 N. Illinois St., 317-253-1405, graeters.com
A “proprietary blend” of premium cocoas is swirled by hand in French pots at this Cincinnati-based purveyor and served at the Butler-Tarkington location.
Critics’ Comments: Hands down, Jeni’s took the prize here, with its understatedly sweet yet deep, dark cocoa flavor that could satisfy even the most diehard chocoholic. And its dense yet smooth quality made this the kind of ice cream we’d been dreaming about since we were kids but can appreciate even more as adults. Though slightly grainier, Graeter’s definitely proved it was up to the test, but its sweeter, traditional character paled to Jeni’s decidedly modern punch. Traders Point had an admirably milky nature that we know to be great in a milkshake, though its flavor seemed a tad washed out.
Kids’ Verdict: After just a few bites of Jeni’s rich blend, nearly all of them were already craving another scoop, associating it with a dark-chocolate Hershey bar in mousse form. Graeter’s was a close second due to its ultra-creamy consistency and familiar use of milk chocolate—though some were underwhelmed because it tasted too much like a Frosty from Wendy’s. Traders Point Creamery’s Dutch Chocolate received the toughest critique, described as “grassy” and “vanilla.”
10. Gorgonzola Candied Pecan from Lick, 317-979-0237, lickicecream.tumblr.com
Among the innovative flavors (Salted Caramel and Sage, Earl Grey Old Fashioned) that local sisters Meredith Kong and Kelly Ryan have been selling to admiring supporters at area farmers markets since 2010, this combo of tangy bleu cheese and candied pecans may stretch the notion of dessert as much as any.
Critics’ Comments: A judicious amount of Gorgonzola and not-too-big chunks of lightly sweetened pecans in Lick’s signature eggy custard base harken to the cheese tray at the end of a great meal. The bleu-cheese tang is quite subtle, making this ice cream a lot more elegant and balanced than one might expect from the name.
Kids’ Verdict: As anticipated, most were not a fan of this daring concoction, even equating it with licking a salt block or eating a cup of butter. Three of the more adventurous palates appreciated the thicker consistency and unique hints of cheese.