The Best Fancy Chocolate Ice Cream: Jeni's, Salt & Straw, Bi-Rite

Ice cream makers are turning to craft chocolate to up their game

Love chocolate? Us, too. That's why we're teaming up with Megan Giller, author of the blog Chocolate Noise, to bring you monthly dispatches about the best chocolates and chocolate makers in the world.

These days it seems everyone's trying to create the craziest ice cream flavors possible. Dill pickle. Chunky lobster. Even bratwurst and mustard. But there's something to be said for the simple stuff, like chocolate. We're not talking about Hershey's here though: Shops are now using handmade craft chocolate in their ice cream to create the most decadent, creamy treat possible. Welcome to summer, small-batch style.

In Brooklyn, Van Leeuwen incorporates Michel Cluizel chocolate in its nutty gianduja flavor. But for its mint chip ice cream, it uses one of the new bean-to-bar masters: Askinosie Chocolate, which is known as much for its business practices as its delicious chocolate. The family owned company shares its profits with impoverished farmers in Tanzania, many of whom are so poor they have never even tasted a chocolate bar.

Meanwhile in Portland, reigning ice cream king Salt & Straw puts a new spin on an old classic by using bean-to-bar chocolate made locally by Woodblock Chocolate. Its Freckled Woodblock Chocolate flavor is nothing short of a revelation. The shop adds sea salt and then, as the ice cream is still churning, pours in the melted chocolate. The technique, called "freckling," keeps the chocolate bits soft and pliable, creating a pleasant textural alternative to your everyday chocolate chunk ice creams.

Head down to San Francisco, and you're in for another rich treat. Bi-Rite uses locally made Tcho Chocolate in its chocolate ice cream and in its other chocolate-related goodies (i.e. Bundt cake), too.

Of course, you don't have to live on either coast to get your hands on some high-end ice cream.

Choctál sells its pints of single-origin chocolate (and vanilla!) ice creams at places like Gelson's in Southern California, AJ's Fine Foods in Arizona and online. That means you can taste test flavor notes among Dominican, Ghanaian and Kalimantan chocolates, all in frosty form. Or, if you're more the DIY type, make Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams-style Dark Chocolate and Coffee flavor at home, which tastes like an ice cream version of Askinosie's chocolate-coffee bar.

And after all that, if you still want pickle ice cream, be our guest. More chocolate for us.