It’s August, which means in Salt & Straw land it’s time to put some veggies into ice cream. The idea may seem a little strange at first but last year’s Carrot Cake Batter & Hazelnut Praline was hands down one of my favorites of the year, and the Chocolate Zucchini Bread was no slouch either. Vegetables can be pretty incredible for a vessel of sweetness when paired up properly, whether for texture, flavor, or in this case, even just color. Beet Red Velvet Cake is a chocolate and beet coconut ice cream with chunks of homemade super dark gluten free chocolate cake and ribbons of vegan vanilla cheesecake.
Salt & Straw tend to know what they’re doing when churning coconut cream, and this cake-y scoop is no exception. They know what they’re doing so convincingly that this is, in fact, one of the best red velvet bases, or non-cake executions of the flavor I’ve ever had. It strikes the perfect balance of cocoa flavor without being too bitter, rounded out by smooth vanilla and just the right amount of coconut on the finish. The presence of coconut actually really helps give that authentic red velvet experience. While coconut isn’t part of the usual RV recipe, the challenge is getting it to taste like more than just chocolate but not devoid of its darkness all together. This flavor brings the chocolate and the x-factor along with the perfect RV coloring from the beets for an ice cream that screams cake.
The texture of the ice cream is terrific, but as with most non-dairy ice creams you really need to let it temper. I tried it right out of the freezer and the difference between that and letting it sit for 10-15 minutes is astronomical. The body intensifies and the luscious creamy melty mouthfeel you want from a craft scoop comes to fruition with just a little extra waiting time. Worth it.
The chunks of super dark chocolate cake are also top notch. Gluten free? You 100% fooled me. One of the big issues with gluten free baked goods is their notably wetter and grainier texture, and submerged into an icy pint of perfection all those woes go to the wayside. The pieces of cake are big and chocolaty with great frozen fluffy texture and the perfect chew. I’m not gonna say they’re as good as the liquor soaked chunks in Chocolate Caramel Potato Chip Cupcake, but the execution is of the same caliber and once again nails the red velvet chemistry.
Where this pint begins to veer off the road of absolute domination is the vegan vanilla cheesecake. It isn’t a total miss, but compared to the magic swirls in Carrot Cake Batter these non-dairy ribbons just don’t hold up. Off the jump they’re a bit thin and whispy, so getting a grasp on their impact to the overall flavor is challenging. They’re also really icy, which is the biggest problem, as they’re taken on the same sort of texture fresh strawberries do, but it isn’t as bad because the swirl isn’t nearly as thick or dominant as a bigger chunk of fruit.
When I’m able to get a more decent amount of the cheesecake onto my spoon it does have a nice slightly funky and cheesy vanilla bean flavor that does taste pretty much as it should. For a vegan attempt at emulating the cream cheese frosting on a RV cake it’s not bad, but it’s hard to overlook that it’s by far the weakest element of an otherwise very strong flavor.
I was letdown by last months introduction of SF’s new core flavor Dandelion Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies & Cream, and while this one isn’t perfect I’m very satisfied with it putting S&S back on track to making some of the best non-dariy ice cream’s around. Whether you’re vegan or not, if you’re a fan of the classic southern cake this one is worthy of a scoop.
Found at: Salt & Straw ($11.00)