I love chocolate. In fact, I’m a fan of chocolate on Facebook. Dark, rich, bittersweet — no milk chocolate for me! Steve Fey’s recent post about Luv-It frozen custard prompted me to try the chocolate flavor there, as well as at Nielsen’s which was recommended by a commenter. While I can understand why both establishments have their enthusiasts, I wasn’t particularly impressed with the chocolate flavor at either place. Therefore I decided to reveal to you, the reader, the absolutely best dark chocolate ice creams in the galaxy. The list includes ice cream available at stores across the Las Vegas valley, or delivered to your door via the web. Some casinos have excellent ice cream shops but that’s for another article.
There are three at the top of the current galactic list. The first gets the value prize, because it is the least expensive of the three. Fresh & Easy’s Dark Chocolate Gelato may not be quite as rich or dense as the other two, but it is only three dollars for a pint. I realize that many people will not want to pay even that much. This list is for people who want their chocolate ice cream to be a gourmet experience without regard for expense. When the ice cream is this good, a pint can last a long time because one or even one-half scoop is a complete serving. That’s one of my rationalizations, anyway. Fresh & Easy grocery stores are located throughout Las Vegas and their dark chocolate gelato is a welcome treat.
Next is Cold Stone Creamery’s Ghirardelli Chocolate Ice Cream. The Cold Stone Creamery chain has ice cream parlors several places in the Las Vegas valley also. I visited the shop on South Maryland Parkway near Silverado Ranch Boulevard, just across the parking lot from the Albertson’s there. Cold Stone has several flavors of chocolate ice cream, but the one made with Ghirardelli chocolate is the darkest. This may be the best chocolate ice cream I have ever tasted. With a sensuous texture and nearly bittersweet intensity it’s like eating a creamy ice-cold chocolate bar.
Cold Stone Creamery has lots of other flavors besides chocolate, and if you like mixing things into your frozen dessert, there are plenty of tasty-looking additions available. But for me, the Ghirardelli chocolate ice cream is just perfect as is. A pint of ice cream there costs about $6.75, and quarts ($8.99) and half-gallons ($12.99) are sold too. Prices may vary depending on location.
Click on the photos below for more Cold Stone Creamery pictures.
Third on the list is a brand that isn’t even available in a local store, as of the date of this article. Graeter’s (pronounced “graters”) is in the process of going national. Originally from Cincinnati, my home town (now there’s a coincidence!) Graeter’s has recently expanded their availability in groceries as far west as Houston, Dallas, and Denver. Graeter’s chocolate ice cream is not quite as intensely flavored as Cold Stone Creamery’s Ghirardelli, but Graeter’s chocolate chip varieties are outstanding. The ice cream itself is wonderful, made with real cream and lots of chocolate. The chocolate chips (chunks, really) make the ice cream galactically good. Once you’ve tasted Graeter’s chocolate chip flavors, other brands of chocolate chip ice cream will seem like pale imitations.
The secret is that during the freezing process, Graeter’s pours in a special melted chocolate which then solidifies into chunks. These chocolate chunks get distributed unevenly, so sometimes a scoop of ice cream will have a big chunk and other scoops will have smaller chunks, but the ice cream is so good that it’s not a problem. (Although I have been known to dig out the big chunks from the carton and eat them… but please don’t tell anybody.)
The Double Chocolate Chip is one of my favorites, but the Mocha Chip and Raspberry Chip flavors are sinfully good, and are always on my shopping list. There is also regular vanilla Chocolate Chip, and a Mint Chip if you like your chocolate with mint. The current flavor of the month might have chocolate chips, too. Graeter’s isn’t available in local stores but you can order six or twelve pints packed in dry ice for $80 or $120, respectively, shipped to Las Vegas via UPS air. By the way, if you are lucky enough to visit a Graeter’s store in person, try a chocolate soda (I always ask to have it made with chocolate ice cream). They’re unlike any chocolate soda you’ve had anywhere else, and twice as good.
That’s the complete scoop. You might think these ice creams are just personal choices of mine, but no, these really are the best chocolate ice creams in the entire galaxy. Just try them and see.