Funny, that ice cream doesn’t look Jewish.
But one bite of the new rugelach ice cream at Quality Eats, a Manhattan steak house, reveals its Semitic roots: chewy chunks of rich rugelach from Orwasher’s, the century-old New York bakery, in a sweet-tart base of cream-cheese/sour-cream ice cream. The treat debuts this week.
We started wondering about other Jewish-y ice cream flavors. Turns out there’s a universe of frozen dairy desserts with haimishe Hebrew DNA, some of them pretty outrageous. Here are some of our favorites:
Rugelach ice cream, Quality Eats, New York
Quality Eats’ executive pastry chef, Cory Colton, has surely earned a place in the Book of Life for this creation. It’s available by the pint for $10, and is served at both Quality Eats and Orwasher’s in New York.
Charoset ice cream, SF Hometown Creamery, San Francisco
“It’s reflective of my brother’s and my background so it’s an “ashkephardic” charoset,” says Saadi Halil, owner of this beloved small-batch ice-cream shop near San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Cinnamon ice cream is combined with shredded apple, raisins, dates, ginger, cardamom, dried apricot, brown sugar and Manischewitz. The brothers also created insane sufganiyot ice cream for Hanukkah.
Babka ice-cream sandwich, On Rye, Washington D.C.
So the ice cream itself is plain vanilla — sue us. When you sandwich it between pillowy, luscious babka, as Ilyse Fishman Lerner does at her Washington, DC deli, you’ve reinvented the wheel.
Pastrami ice-cream, Coolhaus, New York and Los Angeles
Kosher, it’s not. Delicious, it is. Coolhaus’ meat-infused ice-cream became a global sensation by replicating deli memories in a cone. The pastrami flavor is about “salty, sweetness, savory, fattiness,” founder Natasha Case told the Forward https://forward.com/food/321449/pastrami-ice-cream-anyone/. “Not that different from what our ice creams do already.” For perfect pastrami ice cream sandwiches, caraway seeds were added to marbled-rye cookies.
Lox ice cream at Max and Minas, Queens, New York
Well, we do eat smoked-salmon and cream cheese. Is ice cream that much of a stretch? At this Queens shop, it’s vanilla ice cream blended with nova lox bits, cream cheese and salt. It sounds repulsive, but — against all odds — it works.
Tahini ice cream at Seed & Mill, New York
What happens when you mix goat milk and tahini? At Seed & Mill, which creates some of the world’s most delicious tahini, you get an incredibly rich ice cream with faintly nutty undertones. Top it off with mixed halvah crumbles, just-milled tahini, sliced almonds or chocolate shavings.
The Maurice at Morgan Street Theater, Portland, Oregon
Jared Goldman’s genius idea was to combine Jewish-themed storytelling with a monthly ice-cream pop-up. Sellout crowds have devoured his tales — and his creations — like the “Maurice,” his Passover concoction of brown butter-and-asparagus ice cream, matzo brei, parmesan, olive oil and toasted hazelnuts.
Michael Kaminer is a contributing editor at the Forward.