Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream Truck fueled up for the first time two years ago and is now a staple for sweets-seekers.
This Monday, some dark and stormy weather compelled me to search for something warm, comforting, and preferably chocolate-based. Everyone talks about Van Leeuwen's ice cream (which is hardly surprising, given the truck's name), but this day seemed as good as any to try their warmer offerings.
I started with the espresso, and the experience really could have only gone uphill from there. The coffee beans themselves could have been good to start with; I've heard complimentary things about Intelligentsia coffee. But the espresso was burned and embittered beyond recognition when I tried it. Perhaps this was a rare oversight, but I was not impressed.
I moved on to the hot chocolate, and the first sip was heaven. Warm and creamy, it was a perfect defense against the rain. Yet the more I drank, the more cloying it felt. Maybe I should be more receptive to plain old sugar, but I wished for either a darker, livelier chocolate or a thicker brew.
I was about to write off the chocolate chip cookie as well—too sweet, average chocolate, but nicely textured—until I encountered a pleasant buzz of salt on my second bite. The crunchy grains of salt saved this cookie, helping it hit a nice note between humdrum home-baked and something more interesting. The texture was also on point: soft and chewy but not wet or doughy, with just the right amount of chocolate.
The biscotti was another textural triumph. The glazed outer shell was just a tiny bit crumbly, and the center was surprisingly moist. The flavors were wonderful as well, and well calibrated by comparison to the hot chocolate: the almonds tasted as if they had been candied with orange peel and cinnamon, and the sweetness was well-balanced.
In the end though, the gougère stole the show. This cheesy bite featured thyme, cheddar, and a healthy dose of pepper, and was so delicious that I would have gone back and grabbed another immediately if the truck hadn't pulled away. It was tangy, peppery, and wonderfully moist, with those happy little air pockets that form in well-tended dough.
Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream
Open late, check the twitter feed, @VLAIC, for location.
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