When it comes to dessert, nostalgia always beats anything fancy, composed and plated. From a Creamsicle-inspired icebox cake to a pie that tastes just like our favorite Girl Scout Cookie, sweets that bring us back are the way to go. Which is why we couldn't be more excited about a budding trend of chefs embracing throwbacks like never before. (Adult Choco Tacos, anyone?)
One item we're particularly excited to see popping up on menus is an ode to the Dairy Queen Blizzard®, everyone's favorite blend of soft-serve and mix-ins that tastes even better when you know you can turn it upside down. With two of the country's hottest chefs—Christina Tosi of Milk Bar and Dan Kluger of the recently opened Loring Place, both in NYC—serving their own Blizzard®-inspired treats, we jumped on the bandwagon and tapped nostalgic dessert lover and pastry chef Stephen Collucci at NYC's Cookshop to develop a custom version for TT.
Needless to say, Collucci's creation is a showstopper: Using banana-vanilla bean ice cream as a base, he folds in banana chunks, toffee pieces, crushed graham crackers and hot fudge (see the recipe). It's a riff on banana pudding that's going to turn your world . . . upside down.
"I remember one year I made it my mission to try each [Blizzard®] combination at least twice, and come up with as many of my own original creations as I could," Collucci tells us. "Rest easy; I was successful."
Collucci isn't the only one with fond memories of this frosty treat either.
"Convincing my mom to splurge for a DQ Blizzard® was always a process and one that didn't happen often, but once I earned my own keep, it was definitely one of my favorite indulgences," Christina Tosi, chef and owner of Milk Bar, says.
Tosi has taken the concept of toppings blended into ice cream to another level with her new line of MilkQuakes® at her just-opened Milk Bar store in Las Vegas. Think frozen creations like Crack Pie blended into Crack Pie ice cream or birthday truffles mixed into fruity Cereal Milk soft-serve.
Kluger loved Blizzards® so much as a kid (his favorite flavor is chocolate chip vanilla ice cream with M&M's) that he brought his own version to his new and immediately celebrated Greenwich Village restaurant. Soft vanilla ice cream is hand-folded with pretzel crumbs, walnut toffee, chocolate cookie fudge and candied Meyer lemon for a restaurant-level version that we can attest is addictively delicious. "The idea of a 'Blizzard' fit well for Loring Place, because it's meant to be fun, a little bit rustic and ultimately delicious," Kluger explains.
To get as close to the real thing as possible, "you want the ice cream to be soft but not too soft," Kluger says. "To achieve the perfect consistency, we put a few scoops of hard vanilla ice cream in a bowl that's also been in the freezer, then we hand-fold in the toppings. The ice cream softens up with the folding but not too much." Collucci employs the same technique in his recipe. Folding by hand is key to maintaining chunks of toppings with just-soft-enough ice cream.
As for the toppings themselves? "I think having some crunchy components is a must," Collucci tells us. "I love thinking about texture when I'm creating a new dessert, and the same principle applies here. I love finding a nice crunchy bite amongst all of that delicious ice cream."
Tosi, who's known to order cookie dough, Reese's Pieces, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Butterfingers and Oreos all mixed into her Blizzard®, explains that there is a delicate science of ratios when it comes to adding the toppings to her MilkQuakes®. "Each MilkQuake® has a specific amount of each element, from a pinch of salt to a pinch of corn powder to a quarter teaspoon of cinnamon, etc. We're all about creating the perfect bite, Seinfeld-style, and we take that responsibility very seriously!" Amen.
Though there's nothing quite like the original DQ Blizzard®, these newfangled versions are welcome additions. What better way to pay tribute to the classic than by creating a personal version, be it Collucci's banana pudding sundae, Tosi's MilkQuake® or Kluger's pretzel-toffee tour de force? We'll take one of each and be keeping our eyes peeled for more.
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