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Whether you grew up frequenting your local Dairy Queen or rushing out for a cone at the sound of the Mister Softee truck song, soft-serve is one of those summertime staples that elicits nothing but pure, joyful nostalgia. Though there's nothing new about the classic ice cream style, this summer, a slew of ice cream shops and restaurants are putting a new spin on an old favorite.
With inventive flavors like Smoked Oregon Ham (yes, you read that correctly) and mix-ins like saffron syrup and sesame brittle, soft-serve doesn't look like it used to.
While there will always be a time and place for a classic chocolate-vanilla swirl, you'll find no complaints here about these inventive upgrades. Dominique Ansel just reopened his soft-serve window at Dominique Ansel Kitchen with two eye-popping offerings: a burrata flavor with balsamic caramel, microbasil and a whole confit strawberry hidden inside the cone, and a salt-and-pepper caramel flavor with devil's food cake, Maldon sea salt and a crispy potato gaufrette.
Ice cream shops aren't making new twists only on the classic; they're also teaming up with restaurants and chefs to create new flavors. NYC's OddFellows Ice Cream Co. creates custom flavors, like toasted coconut, for Seamore's. And Morgenstern's will launch a rotating line of flavors from chef Paul Liebrandt later this summer.
We're calling it now: 2016 is shaping up to be the summer of soft-serve. Here are some of the cones catching our eye.Photo: Courtesy of Cow Tipping Creamery
Austin's Cow Tipping Creamery is expanding to Dallas, bringing the layered sundaes, homemade soft-serve and quirky shakes it's known for. Cake lovers will find solace in the Red Velvet Smackdown, which has scarlet ice cream studded with cake bits and cocoa cookie crumbs, while others might opt for the campfire-inspired S'mores Stacker.Photo: Alex Stein
OddFellows' Sam Mason can do no wrong, especially where swirls of his vegan coconut macadamia are concerned. The tropical flavor is custom-made for Seamore's.Photo: Courtesy of @dollypearl and @hungrynyc via Instagram
Cafe Zaiya's matcha-and-sesame swirl couldn't be more on trend—and spectacular.Photo: Courtesy of Seed + Mill
Seed + Mill's tahini soft-serve is rich and slightly savory.Photo: Courtesy of Dominique Ansel Kitchen
Dominique Ansel's current flavors of burrata and salt-and-pepper caramel with devil's food cake are as fantastical as all of his other creations.Photo: Carly Diaz
Salt & Straw's Wiz Bang Bar has roasted strawberry coconut and Woodblock Chocolate, and cones can be dipped into flavorful shells like black truffle white chocolate.
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