Everything is better if you cover it in marshmallow fluff and hit it with a blow torch. At least, that’s the theory behind the Penny Ice Creamery, a Californian artisanal ice cream shop with locations in Santa Cruz, Los Altos, Palo Alto, and several other local cities.
I recently stopped by The Penny Creamery location in Los Altos, California. The store is inside a fancy food court (although this designation doesn’t really do the upscale market justice), alongside fancy dumpling places and other stores hawking culinary delights.
Whimsical Ice Cream Creations
The Penny Ice Cream prides itself on whimsical ice cream creations. Like Lotties in Walnut Creek, which is one of my favorite ice cream places in the Bay Area, The Penny Ice Creamery has its own pasteurization facility. It takes a ton of work and requires extensive licensing.
You really don’t want to kill your customers with listeria, so pasteurizing your own milk requires a lot of work and training.
By putting in this time and effort, The Penny Ice Creamery can create its own ice cream base. That sets its creations apart from other stores that make ice cream in-house because it means that The Penny isn’t reliant on starting from the same commercial base as everybody else.
The Penny takes this base and combines it with some serious flavor innovation. When I visited, flavors on offer included fresh mint chip, Verve coffee, strawberry sorbet, lime honey crunch, crème fraîche rhubarb, and more.
The Penny also offers some traditional flavors, like Tahitian vanilla bean and dark chocolate. So even if your kid isn’t going to eat crème fraîche rhubarb ice cream, Tahitian vanilla bean with some rainbow sprinkles is a great kid-friendly option.
Blow Torch Marshmallow Fluff
I decided to go for something a bit weirder, though. I got a scoop of the lime honey crunch and had it topped with The Penny’s other signature creation: blow-torched marshmallow fluff.
That’s right; for anything you order at The Penny Ice Creamery, you have the option to have it covered in brûléed marshmallow fluff. The store puts a nice dollop on top and hits it with a culinary blow torch.
After trying it, I can confirm that basically, anything tastes better covered in marshmallow fluff that’s been hit by a blow torch. It’s a visually dramatic (perfect for Instagram) way to add some interesting flavor to all of The Pennys ice cream creations.
I also loved that adding a special treatment to your ice cream costs the same as any other topping: one dollar. It reminds me of the brûléed marshmallow milkshakes that you can get at ROAM Artisan Burgers.
My cup of lime honey crunch, topped with brûléed marshmallow, was awesome. I’ve never had lime ice cream before; usually, citrus flavors are served as a sorbet. This ice cream had a deep, powerful flavor that was sweet but not too citrusy.
There wasn’t a lot of sour flavor here, despite the lime. It tasted more like the background flavor of lime that you might get in a Thai dish.
The honey crunch element came through as little pieces of caramelized honey string throughout the ice cream, which gave a depth of flavor and, as the name implies, a satisfying crunch.
The brûléed marshmallow served to round out all these flavors, adding delicious creaminess and a super sweet counterpoint to the more subdued sweetness of the lime ice cream. It was a fantastic combo!
My kids loved the vanilla bean ice cream with sprinkles, and really, everything on the menu looked good. The good news is that they rotate the menu constantly, so you’re always guaranteed something fresh and interesting.
I’ll definitely be going back to The Penny Ice Creamery again. It might even inspire me to buy my own bottle of marshmallow fluff and mini blow torch for home!