Trips home from the beach in the summer on Long Island growing up meant ice cream: Carvel, Friendly’s, or maybe even McDonald’s. However, here in western Connecticut, our summer excursions include trips to “the dairy”. We get in line and wait 20 minutes in the blazing summer sun (though sometimes under umbrellas in the rain too!) for a chance to indulge. But it’s not just any ice cream…it’s freshly made dairy farm ice cream using milk from the cows that are raised right there on the property.
It’s a pretty amazing concept and experience for this once-suburbanite – something you assume only happens in middle America, not in Connecticut. But dairy farms selling fresh ice cream in this New England state, known primarily for it’s affluent areas and gorgeous autumnal drives, truly abound. And just like homemade ice cream churned with your KitchenAid, there is absolutely no comparison in taste or quality of dairy farm ice cream to commercially produced ice cream – actually, it’s even better because the milk couldn’t be any fresher. Lucky for me, I recently had the chance to visit two local dairy farms that both are well-known and dearly-loved in this neck of the woods for their farm-fresh ice cream. Being a food blogger sure is a tough job, isn’t it?
Rich Farm Ice Cream Shop on Rt. 67 in Oxford, CT is a hidden gem you’d fly past if you didn’t know to look for it. Located about 4 miles off of Exit 15 on Interstate 84 (you know, the smarter alternative to driving on I-95 through CT…), Rich Farm Ice Cream Shop is, hands down, our favorite haunt for local ice cream. And yes, we have waited 20+ minutes for ice cream in lines 25+ people deep. It’s a simple summer tradition strengthened by the fact that we know source of this treat’s main ingredient – heck, sometimes I even see the cows grazing as I drive by on my way to work in the mornings. This farm isn’t only a Dairy Farm of Distinction, bestowed by the dairy industry for high quality milk (and yes, they also sell raw milk), but it’s long-time family run business that has also been recognized as “Best Ice Cream Shop in CT 2010″ in Connecticut Magazine and has 4+ star ratings on Trip Advisor, Yelp, and Roadfood.com.
With over 30 flavors daily, how could you possibly choose just one? And how could you possibly choose a favorite at that? (I have two: butter crunch made with sweet cream ice cream and pumpkin-gingerbread.) And toppings? Sundae vs. milkshake vs. sandwich? Cone vs. cup? Honestly, you’d be foolish to not ask for your flavor of choice in a [yes, also] freshly made waffle cone and I challenge you to turn one of these cones down after smelling them cook from through the window. And at a little over $4 for a waffle cone the size of your head, how could you possibly turn that down? The only thing to remember before hitting up Rich Farm Ice Cream Shop, aside from wearing your fat pants that day, is to bring cash – no cards or checks are accepted. But since there is a bank about 1 1/2 miles away, you should have no excuse not to make your way to here…and maybe even bring a pint with you.
A short trip a little further west from Oxford in to Fairfield County will bring you to Ferris Acres Creamery, located on Rt. 302 (aka Sugar Street – appropriate, no?) in Newtown, CT. Much like Rich Farm Ice Cream Shop, Ferris Acres Creamery brings freshly-made ice cream to its devoted following, which seems to be just as strongly devoted as we are to “our” dairy. A ridiculously hot and humid May afternoon brought us to this off the beaten path dairy farm and again, we waited patiently in line for what promised to be the best in the area. The blueberry cheesecake special of the day ice cream made it into my waffle cone and we sat under a shady tree probably too close to the cows for most people’s comfort. Yeah…blueberry cheesecake ice cream? Sweet cream ice cream (I’m a sucker) with fresh blueberries and chunks of cheesecake mixed in: hot summer day perfection.
Aside from these two stellar choices in western CT, eastern CT is truly well-known for their dairy farms. The Connecticut Ice Cream Trail has been dubbed as a great day trip off the shoreline, a short drive from Mystic or the two casinos (Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun). If we lived any closer to the eastern CT dairy farms serving fresh ice cream, we be all over them but as it is, we live well over an hour from many of them – not ideal for a quick trip for ice cream.
In the interest of keeping Smells Like Home a food blog, I couldn’t pass up sharing one of our very favorite ice cream-related recipes. This classic hot fudge sauce is one we’ve made many times before and because it takes all of 10 minutes to whip up, it’s an optimal topping choice for homemade ice cream or whatever may make it into your cart at the grocery store. I’ve tried a few other homemade hot fudge sauces but this one blows them all away. And as the name indicates, it’s a classic. Deep, rich chocolate flavor and a perfectly thick consistency make it our favorite and because it lasts a few weeks in the fridge, it has the potential to top off a variety of different flavors.
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Classic Hot Fudge Sauce
source: adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
- 1/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 3 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 3 oz high-quality milk chocolate, finely chopped (I love Callabaut)
- 1 tbsp salted butter
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- In a small saucepan (at least 1 1/2 quarts), combine the heavy cream, sugar, cocoa, and corn syrup. Bring the mixture of a boil over medium heat and cook for 30 seconds.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chocolate (a little at a time) and the butter until the mixture is smooth and glossy. Stir in the vanilla extract. The sauce will thicken as it cools. Store in an airtight container for 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator. You can warm it back up in the microwave on medium power as needed.