Salt & Straw is celebrating the company's love of fall with a brand-new fleet of seasonal ice creams. The Harvest Festival Series includes 5 flavors (Pumpkin Spice Tiramisu, Beecher's Cheese with Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls, Caramel Apple Sherbet, vegan Chocolate Plum & Hazelnut Shortbread and Pinot Poached Pear Sherbet) that exemplify the sort of innovation that drives scores of customers to one of their 36 locations.
After some hard work tasting and testing every flavor in the Harvest Festival Series, below is a conclusive ranking. Each and every ice cream or sherbet was of the highest quality and the utmost caliber — after all, Salt & Straw is famous for a reason. But some tastes and textures were preferable to others, hence the higher rankings.
So, curl up in your comfiest chair, light a candle, and as the leaves change out the window, consider which of these new fall flavors is about to become your most desired pint.
Pinot Poached Pear Sherbet
There is lot going on in this ice cream. Salt & Straw is no stranger to exploring the far reaches of ice cream flavor pairings, as is evident in this diverse, daring lineup of fall offerings. But some work better than others. Something had to take last place, and the Pinot Poached Pear Sherbet accepts the "L" with dignity. The most elegant and sophisticated flavor tasted, it had light fruity notes and teeters on the cusp of summer and fall; the perfect entry point into the more aggressively autumnal flavors like pumpkin, apple, and cinnamon.
The underrated flavor of ripe pears is lovely in this pint, muddled artfully with the pinot. Salt & Straw does a great job of utilizing some delicious, under-appreciated produce across the board, as exemplified in the stunning plum flavor soon to follow. Honestly, although exquisite, this pint was ever-so-slightly on the plain side. If you go crazy for booze-flavored desserts, your mileage may vary.
Caramel Apple Sherbet
One of the culinary geniuses behind Salt & Straw (ice cream innovator Tyler Malek) draws inspiration from seasonal strolls through the farmer's market; that fresh-picked essence is on full display here in the Caramel Apple Sherbet. Many people know the joy of the first batch of autumn-kissed apples. The sherbet treatment allows for the juicy, naturally sweet flavor to shine. It's one of the most fall-forward scoops we have ever tried, and we found it divine. But in case that's not enough fall flavor, Salt & Straw adds a mahogany ribbon of sticky-sweet burnt caramel. The intriguing juxtaposition between light, bright apple sherbet and deep, dark caramel is something to behold.
This is not the kind of caramel ribbon you will find in a generic carton of grocery-store ice cream; this is what dreams are made of. How can someone take a nostalgic yet ungainly festival treat and stuff it into a sherbet while improving upon the taste of the original source material? It's an impressive achievement.
Chocolate Plum & Hazelnut Shortbread
A plum ice cream? Intriguing for sure; although many fruits go well with chocolate (raspberries and strawberries come to mind), plums aren't as much of a no-brainer. This is mixed with a foundation of shortbread — which is typically pure, unbridled butter, so it's quite the feat to make a vegan version. It's almost as impressive as a vegan cheesecake or ice cream base — which, of course, Salt & Straw has also accomplished.
This pint left us craving some good, homemade shortbread. If you're not a huge fan of chocolate, Salt & Straw incorporates it with a light touch. Too much deep, dark chocolate can steal the thunder of any other elements of a dessert, so if you want to showcase other strengths and additions like the plum and shortbread, you have to be careful. This vegan ice cream strikes a wonderful balance and doesn't even taste vegan.
Beecher's Cheese With Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls
When it comes to food, sometimes we all just want to feel like kids again, playing all day and eating ice cream at the end of it. Maybe that's what inspired the cinnamon rolls in Salt & Straw's Beecher's Cheese with Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls ice cream. The other core element of this flavor is a little less kid-friendly: cheese.
Beecher's is a force of nature in the world of distinctive handmade cheeses, and here they contribute semi-hard cow's milk cheese with a uniquely robust, nutty flavor. Believe it or not, it makes for an outstanding ice cream. It's complex, nuanced, fun, and funky. No one's going to be saying that this is too sweet, either, thanks to the slight savory undertones. It doesn't taste cheesy; instead, the ice cream just embraces the distinguished, salty tasting notes.
Meanwhile, the cute little cinnamon rolls are the perfect foil. Sweet, a little doughy, tender, and bursting with the taste of fresh apple and warming cinnamon, Salt & Straw doesn't let you suffer a spoonful without some cinnamon bun in it. It's an ideal source of textural contrast to the velveteen ice cream, and a great way to lift the subtle notes of cheese from savory charcuterie board territory right into true dessert mode.
Pumpkin Spiced Tiramisu
Here sits the best of the best of Salt & Straw's Harvest Festival Series: Pumpkin Spiced Tiramisu. While not typically associated with the fall season, Tiramisu's frequent chocolate and espresso flavor notes have been adapted here, holding up quite nicely to the Pumpkin Spice treatment. Salt & Straw nails it with a piquant PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte) flavored ice cream full of cinnamon, clove, and ginger.
Just like we found in the Caramel Apple Sherbet, this base is decadent enough. When you add ribbons of cake-like swirl, coffee mascarpone, and chocolate stracciatella, you're hit with flavor from all sides that somehow leads to one cohesive, dreamlike ice cream. You would think it would be too much, but it's just right.
This is a loaded ice cream, so you probably won't be eating the whole pint in one sitting. But when you consider how delicious and plentiful it feels? The possibility should never be entirely off the table. It's hard to imagine Salt & Straw doing anything better than this Pumpkin Spice Tiramisu anytime soon.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.