On any given day in Santa Cruz, one can go to The Penny Ice Creamery and try any number of unique ice cream flavors and combinations. Because Penny's uses local ingredients, their flavor profiles reflect the changing seasons and holidays.
The Penny Ice Creamery is not just any ice cream shop. Founded in 2010, Penny's set out with the intention of creating a place for the people of Santa Cruz to enjoy unique ice cream flavors-- flavors made from locally sourced organic ingredients.
Tucked behind downtown Santa Cruz on Cedar Ave, the smell of sugar wafts through the air-- a siren song of creamy, iced goodness. But here's where things get tricky, which one do you pick? We've all been there. Standing at the counter and you've already tried three flavors. Anxiety rising, the line is growing behind you and you can only pick one, the dire implications of picking the wrong flavor wash over you and...
Worry no longer. This week I went to Santa Cruz's own Penny Ice Creamery and saved you the trouble of trying every flavor.
On a crisp November afternoon, I made my way over to the shop to see what Penny's had in stock. To the delight of my taste buds, the current stock is constructed from Fall and Thanksgiving profiles.
Apples, cinnamon, pecan pie...Oh hot damn, cold damn that is. Let's dive right in, spoon first.
Tahitian Vanilla Bean
I know what you're thinking, vanilla...that's so...vanilla.
But dude, this vanilla is the least vanilla vanilla I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. The floral notes linger long after you finish your bite of velveteen cream.
Penny, we're off the a good start.
Here we go again with pumpkin.
This homey flavor has become ubiquitous with the identity of autumn. It's because of this that I personally have become very, very sick of anything pumpkin.
Bias aside, I will tell you that Penny's does a splendid job of leaving the savory integrity of the pumpkin intact. In a flavor profile that is often overwhelmed by sugar, it's the warmth and spice that comes through before the sweetness.
But let's just say it, pumpkin is crazy overrated.
We really get rolling with the Thanksgiving flavor profile with the introduction of Craberry sorbet. Sorbet is not technically ice cream, this cool icy treat is vegan and dairy free.
Cranberry sorbet from name alone, is not something I would normally care to try. Why go for fruit and ice when there are creamy, gooey, more dairy-full alternatives?
I will tell you that I literally ate my words when I tried this delightfully tart sample. The sharp flavor was a delicious change of pace from the sweetness of other flavors. Cranberry beckons forth memories of thanksgiving and is a wonderful alternative for all patrons.
So what is a persimmon anyway? Upon some light googling I was able to discover that persimmons are a fruit that resemble a bright orange tomato, but when cooked and ripened correctly taste more like honey.
These two flavors were a little confusing next to one another, it is tart but very sweet at the same time. I enjoy a bourbon buzz as much as the next girl, but I think I'll keep it out of my ice cream for now.
Cranberry Orange Ginger
This flavor–like ogres, and onions–has layers.
First ginger. Then cranberry. Oh damn wait, there's some orange too. These flavors are balanced with each other as well as the cream, and create an incredibly unique flavor.
Fresh Mint Chip
Mint Chip is my go to ice cream flavor. Something about that bright, toothpaste green hue, the fresh tinge of mint with a bit of chocolate. Mmmm...
Needless to say, when I saw Penny's tub of plain white cream with chocolate chunks I was a bit skeptical.
However, this is some seriously minty ice cream. The mint is as fresh as chewing on a mint leaf and the chocolate is dark and rich. This is miles away from the mint chocolate chip of my childhood. Whoa.
I'm a fan, but fair warning, this mint chip is not for the faint of heart.
Apple Date Crisp
Oh boy. This flavor was the undisputed champion of the day.
If there's anything that I love in this world more than ice cream, it's pie. And this flavor has brought the best of both worlds together with a pie-inspired ice cream.
The apples and dates have been cooked down so that a single bite holds the freshness of both fruits. As the spices linger on your tongue, the texture from the crisp topping adds another dimension to this amazing flavor.
I may of spoken too quickly. This ice cream is literally magical.
The Pecan Pie flavor embodies Thanksgiving in a single bite. This ice cream does not want to know what your life goals are, or bicker over who gets the turkey leg. Oh no, this ice cream is something to really be thankful for.
It was with this last sample that I finally caved, and to the delight of those waiting in line behind me, I ordered my scoop.
For four dollars, you can get a scoop at The Penny Ice Creamery and try all the flavors for yourself. But let's face it, no trip to Penny's is complete without splurging the extra dollar for a dollop of their signature toasted marshmallow fluff on top.
Don't feel like making the outing? Check out Katie Russell's article on making ice cream at home without an ice cream machine.
As I was gathering my things to leave, I asked the exceptionally kind and patient girl behind the counter what her favorite flavor was. She paused, and began to name one flavor, then another, and then a third. And I was glad to see that the feeling was mutual. Whatever you decide on, I'll definitely be seeing you there next time.
To keep track of their flavor rotation, visit Penny's Facebook Page to stay up to date on all things Penny's: