Warmer weather plus ice cream equals a perfect Metro Detroit day in many people’s books. But if you want to pump up the fun, there are some radical ice-cream shops that are taking this tradition dessert to wacky new heights.
There are hot-fudge syringes at Treat Dreams, donut ice-cream cones at Donut Bar + Coffee in Southfield and the drama of the clouds coming off the ice cream mixed with liquid nitrogen at the Milkster locations around Metro Detroit. It’s delicious and all in good fun, which means everyone from toddlers to grandparents will delight in the drama.
“People are challenging the idea of what something should be” like dessert, said Vanessa Gonzalez, co-owner of Grosse Pointe Wood’s Venezuelan restaurant Garrido’s Bistro, known for its extreme hot chocolate and milkshakes. “People are redesigning and rethinking what we can do with food. It’s more fun to do it with the sweets, but it’s also being done with savory foods.”
How extreme are the desserts at Garrido’s Bistro? Picture towers of sweets, all topped on one another, glued together with chocolate or marshmallow. They are the inspiration of Christopher Garrido, who remembers when his one-time childhood treat of a nine-flavor ice cream cone toppled over and his resulting disappointment.
The challenge is working with ice cream – it’s not as simple as frying or sautéing something, Gonzalez said. Looking on Instagram or Snapchat for inspiration has created a competition of sorts to go bigger and better within the cooking world, she noted, and chefs definitely like instant gratification of customers’ reactions to their creations.
“It tests your skills,” Gonzalez said. “It’s like measuring up – can I be better than I am right now? A lot of chefs and bakers are doing it right now in Michigan, around the country and internationally. And social media is allowing us to see it. … It creates a community of creativity.”
With Michigan’s sizzling summers, knowing where to find the best cones, frozen desserts, and mountainous sundaes is key to surviving high temperatures. Metro Detroit is home to a variety of family-owned-and-operated ice cream and custard shops that will have something for everyone.
When the owners of Garrido’s Bistro created its extreme hot chocolate, the goal was to introduce people to its homemade chocolate drink. They started adding things to the top, and then they posted it to social media. A star was instantly born. The summer version is an extreme milkshake, and they’re both delicious. “It’s a connection moment. It’s like a project for a family – they challenge themselves not to drop a single drop on the plate,” Gonzalez said.
Donut Bar + Coffee
There are only two words to need to know about this dessert palace: Donut cone. They put their creamy ice cream inside a donut, and that’s just about the most perfect thing in the world. It’s an amazing combination that must be tried at least once. Or twice.
Detroit Water Ice Factory
With less sugar and more fruit than your average frozen treat, D-ICE water ice is more like Italian ice, but don’t think you’re getting anything watered down. Flavors are named after local celebrities and locations, such as the Vanilla Temptations, Yooper Orange Cream, Bo’s Black Cherry Bordeaux, and the Zetterberry, which tastes like Swedish Fish.
Milkster Nitrogen Creamery
The best part of a visit to Milkster Nitrogen Creamery is finding out what kind of flavors the shop is going to have when you stop in. Perhaps it will be Pumpkin Pie around Thanksgiving, or maybe it could be the Salted Caramel, which is filled with an actual syringe of caramel. Kids will have fun watching the staff mix the ice cream with liquid nitrogen, giving it a little cloud coming off it that looks like magic.
You never know what you’ll find on the creative menu of this ice cream shop. Everything is out of the ordinary, including its new hot-fudge syringes. If you want cookie dough flavor, expect it to have a big portion of crushed cookies in the mix. What Treat Dreams puts together is extreme and chock-full of tasty additions. The portions are sizable as well.
Wally’s Frozen Custard
There’s always a long line at Wally’s Frozen Custard, and it is well worth the wait if you find one there when you arrive. The custard that owners Matt and Eliza Ahearn serve is so thick, you’ll have a hard time scooping it up with a spoon. The shop is known for a few things, like dipping your entire cone in sprinkles or mixing in great candy flavors for their signature Whirly or the Dole Whip. If you’re looking for extreme, try the 911 Sundae, which features a fire-hat full of flavor.