When it comes to pleasing the people, few things get the job done as swiftly and successfully as cookies and cake. Which is likely why Caffe Panna’s People Pleaser pack relied on one or the other in all six of its densely creative pints, including the aptly titled Carrot Cake 2022: spiced Golden Oreo infused ice cream with candied pecans, cream cheese frosting dollops, and chunks of Lloyd’s carrot cake.
Let’s get one thing out of the way here — you’re not going to get a whole lot of Golden Oreo nuance out of the base because this pint is absolutely LOADED. And I’m not mad! The subtly spiced base acts as a nice canvas that’s far from blank but not very busy either. I get some notes of cinnamon and a smooth creaminess when I can get enough of it on my spoon to truly get a taste. The texture is there, it’s cold and luscious, but it’s not even close to the focus of the flavor train speeding across my tastebuds.
Caffe Panna’s candied pecans are revelatory. They’re absolutely perfect, and I was so happy to have them poking out at me right underneath the superficial top layer of the pint. Candied or chocolate-coated nuts in ice cream are underrated in general, but these stand out amongst all candied nuts ever — frozen or not. They have a robust earthy pecan flavor accented by sweet burnt sugar and a massively satisfying crunch. I never want them to stop appearing as I dig. I’m not sure if they’ve been blessed with some spices or if the cinnamon is creeping in from the creamy cuddle of the base, but they pop with a little spice as well, and it’s a combination I simply can’t deny.
The pecans play in perfect tandem with the generous chunks of New York institution Lloyd’s carrot cake, which are perfectly dense yet soft and moist. The cake is about as good as it gets when tossed into ice cream and the not-too-aggressive notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove round out the summery spiced profile beautifully. Lloyd’s cake has been heralded as some of the best in the country for the last 30 years and I can see why — it tastes so classic and authentic in a simple and beautiful way. I love seeing the bright orange flecks of carrot jump out from the sea of brown and white, looking almost as satisfying as the cake tastes.
Where this pint starts to veer off the path of perfection is in the cream cheese frosting. I love frosting, I’ve eaten it straight from the jar regularly throughout my life, including last week, but the execution here is a bit much, even for me. The frosting is heavy on the sugary sweetness and light on the cream cheese tang, which I don’t mind, but the hand packed pint got too heavy handed on my dollops, which are actually much more like scoops. When I encountered my first glob of thick, slightly gritty frosting I was elated, especially in tandem with the milder, more buttery cake, but a little more than halfway into the pint I had an entire baseball-sized layer of frosting, and there isn’t much I can do with that other than let it sit in my freezer. Underneath the frosting was very little-to-no more ice cream and I was sad the journey came to an end prematurely.
While Carrot Cake 2022 may suffer a bit from the learned art of restraint, even for an edge-eating frosting freak like myself, I can’t deny this is among the best carrot cake ice creams I have ever scooped. The quality is unmatched, and it is one of the few times in my life I wanted less of a mix-in, but I’ll take that problem over getting none of what’s listed on the label any day.
Found at: Goldbelly ($114.95 for 6 pints)