Salt & Straw are a pretty amazing company. If you weren’t aware, every time they open in a new city that city gets a menu that includes some S&S classics as well as some city-specific exclusives that you can’t get anywhere else. When they expanded to San Francisco last year they made some amazing flavors, including Roasted Strawberry Tres Leches and Salted Honey Marshmallows & Walnuts (RIP), but sometimes even great new things need to be revised. To kick off National Ice Cream Month, Salt & Straw added a handful of new SF-only flavors to their menu, including the tantalizing-sounding vegan friendly Dandelion Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies and Cream – a dark chocolate ice cream made with coconut and hazelnut milk with stacciatella ribbons of Dandelion chocolate and chunks of homemade gluten free vegan oreos.
The dark chocolate ice cream is smooth and creamy with a slightly thin finish and more of a milk chocolate flavor than dark to my palate. The natural coconut flavor comes through pretty decently, with only gentle notes of hazelnut, and I think that tropical presence may be taking me out of the intended dark bitter zone a little more than I would like. It’s a good base non-dairy ice cream, but I can’t help but feel a little disappointed when comparing it to January’s Chocolate Hazelnut Fudge. I didn’t give that one a proper review on the blog but it had an amazing depth of hazelnut flavor and insanely rich texture that I can’t help but remember and crave while taking in this newer spin on the Nutella profile.
San Francisco’s Dandelion make some really great chocolate and it ain’t all sweet Hershey bars where they come from. The stacciatella ribbon of crunchy hardened chocolate really reflects the more elevated and serious side of chocolate with very little sweetness and lot’s of deep intense bitter notes. It’s actually almost a little too dark and I wish it was a bit sweeter, which is funny because I wanted the base to be a little darker. In a perfect world they would balance each other out, but I never get that reprieve here, they both float in their own little zones just shy of being great.
While the base and the ribbon aren’t perfect, they’re solid, but where this flavor really let me down are the cookie chunks. Salt & Straw usually KILLS it with their mix-ins, which is why I had to rush down and pick up this dairy free pint because I know what they’re capable of with classics like Coconut with Petunia’s Salted Caramel Bars. However, the chunks never came, and I never got the cookies and cream experience I was hoping for. There are plenty of specs of vibrant white crème filling throughout the container but I never got more than a crumb of cookie. Every time I thought I might be getting a chunk of crumbly cookie it was another hard cluster of chocolate.
This flavor, or at the very least this pint, is a very very rare miss for Salt & Straw that left me unsatisfied either marginally or fully with every component. There’s nothing bad in this flavor, just underwhelming on every level, mostly in the context of knowing what S&S are capable of and wanting to be taken to the heights I’m used to. If you’re vegan this is probably still a top tier choice but if you’re an ice cream loving omnivore like me I’d recommend spending the big bucks on another dairy-loaded classic.
Found at: Salt & Straw ($11)