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There is ice cream worth making a drive for. There is ice cream worth eating in the winter. And then there is ice cream worth shoving your firstborn child out of the way so that you can get the final spoonful. Princeton’s The Bent Spoon is all of the above.
This tiny artisanal ice cream shop in the center of Princeton has somehow become a tourist destination. How? Let’s start with the ice creams, all made on premises with seasonal, mostly local, and often organic ingredients. They come in startling combinations. Ever had cardamom ice cream before? New Jersey basil? How about blueberry-mascarpone? Coffee-and-cinnamon? The Bent Spoon’s ever-rotating flavors feature the best of the Garden State, along with classics like chocolate-hazelnut, milk or dark chocolate, vanilla bean, and more. We love their sweet corn ice cream, which pairs beautifully with their honey ice cream–or maybe you’re more the chocolate-rosemary ice cream type! All of their ice creams are incredibly rich, so a small cup (which has two scoops of different flavors) is more than enough for most. Of course, they encourage sampling to find the flavors that are right for you (and the flavors rotate weekly, so you’ll never find the same set twice).
If you’re vegan, don’t sweat. The Bent Spoon’s sorbets are equally creative, impossibly creamy, and 100% vegan-friendly. Too often sorbets are full of ice crystals, creating a disappointing mouth-feel and a plain, one-note flavor. Not so at The Bent Spoon. In some cases, the lack of dairy heightens the flavors–we are huge fans of their dark chocolate sorbet, which has a stronger and richer chocolate flavor than any ice cream could have. The sorbet flavors are creative–think blueberry-basil, blood orange, grapefruit, or mango. Each creamier than the last. If that weren’t enough, The Bent Spoon often (frequently) offers banana whips, a velvety vegan confection that is somehow made solely of freshly whipped, organic frozen bananas–no sweeteners or other ingredients added. It is luscious and delicious, and comes in a big cup for $5 (if they have it, check the sign on the top right corner of the wall that says whether they have frozen bananas or not that day). With no added fats, sugars, or preservatives–it’s actually a healthy treat to get at the ice cream shop.
But ice cream and sorbet isn’t all that The Bent Spoon has to offer. Their baked goods are among the best in Princeton, and their cupcakes (both mini and full size) are local classics. They make superb cookies, and naturally you can customize your own ice cream sandwich (with two flavors of cookie and one of ice cream). That’s more than most will be able to fit in their stomach, so if you just want one cookie you can order the “cookie a la mode” which is a single cookie with their terrific ice cream. Over the winter, you can order their incredibly rich hot chocolate (either plain or cayenne spiced!) which is gooey, creamy, and devastating. I love it dearly but I’ve never been able to finish a cup, it is like drinking liquid chocolate. They sell the mix by the can, if you’d like to try it at home. If you ask, it’ll be served with their home-made marshmallows (which you can also purchase in a bag to go). A perfect housewarming gift in the winter. You can also purchase their ice creams and sorbets by the pint, making a terrific summer gift.
There are only a few seats inside the shop, which explains why there is often a line out the door, even when the weather is cold. Fortunately, the line moves quickly, and downtown Princeton offers lots of benches and other outdoor seating options.
So whether it is summer or winter, make the trek up to Princeton and enjoy The Bent Spoon.