Shake Shack review / ice cream roundup

Round Top peppermint candy stick ice cream

Round Top peppermint candy stick cone (Lucky's, New Harbor, ME)

Shake Shack November custard calendar

  • Monday: salted caramel
  • Tuesday: cranberry cashew
  • Wednesday: pumpkin pie
  • Thursday: maple brown butter
  • Friday: banana bread
  • Saturday: Shack Shiraz poached pear
  • Sunday: apple caraway

I find myself in the vicinity of Madison Square Park several times a week, and I like to try the seasonal flavors at the original Shake Shack location. Despite the balmy Indian summer, I didn’t eat a single cup in September or October. I’m back on the case, cranberry cashew first up.

Through the window, I could see a server sprinkling cashews over my freshly-scooped custard—a good sign that they would retain their crunch (like the Oreos laboriously crushed into their mud pie flavor). “Thank you, sir,” the harried cashier chanted before pausing for a beat and continuing “Thank you, ma’am.” Ouch.

Disappointingly, my custard was a gently spice-flecked ecru instead of a vibrant fuschia. (I don’t have a shot of it because P needed the camera for a work function.) The first bite revealed a good salty-sweet balance. Further swirls around my mouth gave up hits of cinnamon and brown sugar, but nary a burst of pinky-tart fruit. Digging further, still no cranberry. Either my taste buds are deficient, or the bogs haven’t given up their bounty. Thank goodness for the heat lamps. The custard was pretty good, but not the novel flavor combination I was expecting. As ever, it had exceptional mouthfeel (an embarrassing term), solid and melty all at once.

Update

One week later. I went back to repeat cranberry-cashew. There were cranberries this time, but they were dried cranberries. I found them a little too chewy. In such cases, I like to soak fruit in booze. The cashews were premixed this time and that detracted a little texturally and in terms of salty-sweetness. I think I could get behind this ice cream if they renamed it “trail mix” and added more types of dried fruit and nuts.

My top 3 Shack flavors

  1. Grasshopper. I am *gasp* easily bored by chocolate desserts, but the Shack’s chocolate-based flavors are unusually good. In this case, the cool incisiveness of mint tempers the universal too-sweetness. (Rare chocolate temptation has also appeared by way of  Ideas in Food’s Dark and Stormy brownies.)
  2. Sweet corn. As noted, this tastes like canned creamed corn. And yet somehow that is a good thing.
  3. Coffee and donuts. I like to imagine cops sitting around eating this. What a perfect New York City flavor. I wish the coffee custard itself were more espresso than streetcart strength, but the behemoth cake donut chunks are delicious. Word is they come from The Doughnut Plant. K reports that their autumn pumpkin cake donut is worth a trip—one I plan on making.

Ice cream Mainiac

My favorite ice creams come from Maine. (R confesses his home state’s per capita ice cream consumption is the highest in the nation.) Strictly local Round Top Ice Cream in grapenut (malty goodness in a vanilla base) or black raspberry ranks highest with me. Blueberry is a close second, and Gifford’s will do. Like Moxie highballs, these have been ephemeral vacation-only treats for me. Shake Shack’s August blueberry wasn’t bad, but now I can recommend heading down to Luke’s Lobster for Gifford’s blueberry.

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  1. […] masochist to eat frozen custard in December!” I told P. He wasn’t impressed that I only reviewed one Shake Shack flavor last month, cranberry-cashew (a splat under my new Scoopmeter rating […]



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