We're in the thick of another hot New York City summer, and the sweltering temperatures provide a handy excuse to gorge on ice cream, gelato, sorbet and frozen desserts of all kinds.
But let's say you've become desensitized to the pleasures of ice cream: after years of dessert consumption, chocolate and vanilla just don't get you going anymore. You need some extreme ice cream* to experience the joy you felt as a child. Worry not—New York City can get your endorphins flowing with the following scoops. We’re counting 'em down, in ascending order of “whoa” factor. (Just call ahead before you go on a sampling spree; many parlors rotate varieties in and out.)
11. Szechuan Peppercorn Chocolate at Morgenstern's
New Yorkers love Chinese takeout, so they should go crazy for this, which crams Szechuan heat into a sweet package.
10. Olive Oil at Otto
Mario Batali's pizzeria isn't afraid to be bold with its pies (people love the lardo, which uses cured fatback), and that attitude extends to the gelato on the dessert menu.
9. Cereal Milk at Momofuku Milk Bar
The shame of slurping sugar-infused Frosted Flakes residue goes mainstream in Brooklyn. Wow, is this soft-serve sweet.
8. Black Sesame at Sundaes and Cones
This one's smooth, speckled gray and somewhat odd; for something that looks a bit like spackle, it tastes pretty good. Sesame has a long history in dessert, and it's more appetizing than you might think.
7. Cornbread at OddFellows
This creative flavor actually makes a lot of sense, though we do see a missed opportunity to pair it with a scoop of fried-chicken ice cream.
6. Durian at Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
Controversial fruit durian has such a strong smell that there are signs specifically forbidding it from various public places in Thailand. It has its fans, though. Here's your chance to find out if you're among them.
5. White Miso with Sliced Almond at SkyIce
It's the perfect combo for those in the mood for salty soup but who don't want any more heat on a scorching day; SkyIce has also been known to rotate in mixed vegetable ice cream from time to time.
4. Burrata at Dominique Ansel Kitchen
It's cheese-ish. It's basil-y. It's strawberrian. Think those aren't all words? You probably think this isn't ice cream, either. Open your mind.
3. Organic Lettuce at L'Albero dei Gelati
L'Albero has a changing menu of bizarre savory gelato flavors—like this representative one, garnished in the display freezer with real lettuce leaves. It's cool and smooth, like Santana.
2. Nova Lox at Max & Mina's
Real nova lox, cream cheese and a not-so-secret ingredient (salt!) give this ice cream its signature taste. In case you're wondering, it's kosher.
1. “Netflix” at Coolhaus
Ingest your favorite orange junk foods (cheddar popcorn and Doritos) while leaving your fingertips residue-free. By the way, these are the folks who make ice cream with duck skin.
*That leaves out a lot of fun, creative stuff that makes use of more familiar flavors, like this.