Graeter’s have been churning out small batch super premium ice cream since 1870, and as a west coast ice cream lover I have a confession to make – I have never had Graeter’s! They don’t have any scoop shops on this side of the country and until recently didn’t have a ton of distribution in the area either. They use super high quality ingredients in their unique French Pot process which yields only two gallons at a time, resulting in super dense, heavy ice cream that is regarded as some of the best in the world by creamy aficionados everywhere. For my initial foray in Graeter’s territory I decided to go with what many deem a true classic – Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip, which is simply black raspberry ice cream with their highly acclaimed chocolate chips.
The ice cream has one of the most gorgeous deep purple hues I have ever seen, channeling the rich juicy flesh of the berries, and is incredibly eye catching and appealing. The texture, as expected from a super premium high fat ice cream, is velvety smooth and heavy, but has been churned with such expertise that it doesn’t feel aggressively fatty. Based on the intensity of the color, I’m actually a bit letdown by the flavor, which isn’t nearly as bold as I was expecting. The berry flavor is very subdued, not that sweet, and not tart either. I was expecting some lush berry notes, and instead am left with only the slightest hint of fruit. It seems that the fruity notes are getting washed out by the high butterfat content in the ice cream itself, and the intended creamy power play is actually working against the execution of the desired flavor.
The chocolate chips, however, are very good. Many trusted ice cream sources, and even Graeter’s website, refer to the massive size of their chocolate chunks, and while I didn’t really get what I anticipated, I still love what is in this pint. The chocolate is in mostly smaller pieces with the occasional bigger boulder, but my goodness the flavor and texture of the pieces is flawless. There’s a deep, slightly bitter cocoa flavor that stands out strong against the dairy with a literal melt-in-your-mouth texture that is gentle and succulent like soft serve that has been dipped in magic shell. It is some of the softest, most perfect chocolate I have ever had in ice cream and falls somewhere in between chips and fudge with its beautiful textural give and flourish.
All in all this is an okay introduction to Graeter’s for me. While I cannot deny the fantastic quality of the textures at play, the flavor in the base is lacking for such a high priced premium product. Good enough to try another flavor, but not impressive enough for me to go out and pick up this particular pint again. I have heard that Graeter’s quality took a hit once they got bigger distribution, and I get the feeling that if I scooped this in one of their shops I may have a different experience, but I can only grade what I’ve got.
Found at: Whole Foods ($6.99)