In my decade of experience writing about food, I've tasted hundreds if not thousands of ice creams, and yes, I have a favorite. Jeni's Salty Caramel ($12) is almost always stocked in my freezer. I consider myself a pretty frugal grocery shopper, but I do have one vice, and that's Jeni's. The price tag is steep — really steep — but hear me out. First of all, Jeni's ice cream has the best texture I've ever encountered. It's creamy, not icy, and has a slight chewiness to it, like Turkish ice cream or mochi. And the flavor? It tastes like delicate cream (she uses grass-grazed cow milk) with a roasted, caramelized sweetness and clean, salty finish to balance out the richer flavors. I can easily polish off a pint in two sittings, and sometimes, I pair it with my second favorite ice cream in the world: Salted Peanut Butter With Chocolate Flecks.
Here's what makes the Salty Caramel ice cream even more amazing: the owner of Jeni's, Jeni Britton Bauer, invented the flavor in 1996, inspired by traditional French salted caramel candies. Rather than rely on flavoring, Jeni's Ice Cream toasts brown sugar in a big kettle over a fire and then blends the caramel with the cream and milk before churning it into ice cream. This flavor has been re-created countless times by famous ice creameries across the country, from San Francisco's Bi-Rite Creamery to Disney World's French Pavilion at Epcot. While the copycats are good, nothing can compare to the original Jeni's. Try it yourself and you'll see why the addiction is real.