Few frozen treats approach ice cream nirvana like the Donnelly Chocolate salted caramel ice cream bar. And while there’s never a wrong time to enjoy ice cream, the heat wave last week was definitely a good excuse.
Chocolatier Richard Donnelly has been offering his hand-crafted chocolates at his workshop on Mission Street since 1988, when he returned from cooking school in Paris. Deeply inspired by the fine chocolates he tasted while in France, he returned home determined to make the best chocolate he could. Since then, he’s been named one of the Ten Best Chocolatiers in the World by National Geographic and recognized internationally for his impeccably textured French and Belgian chocolates with flavors like coffee, chipotle and saffron.
Step into the shop and Richard or his brother Henry, who joined the business in 2001, will likely offer you a sample while you place your order. Their best seller by far is the salted caramel chocolates. “We’re as much caramel makers as we are chocolate makers,” says Richard. “We make caramel every single day.” Slowly perfecting his recipe over many years, the brothers insist on working in small batches to ensure freshness. The result is a divine, creamy, vanilla-scented caramel, perfectly accented by a few flakes of sea salt.
Fifteen or so years ago, the Donnelly brothers created their ice cream bar. Like a conspiracy plot of deliciousness, each layer is intriguing on its own and mind-blowing when you see how all the pieces come together. “It’s really hard not to eat one every single day,” says Richard.
A creamy square of Marianne’s Ice Cream vanilla ice cream makes up its core. Then, a layer of the beautiful caramel, which instead of seizing up when frozen remains magically gooey. The bar is then dipped in Donnelly’s dreamy chocolate and finished with sea salt or sea salt and crushed almond.
The entire creation is transcendent. I felt like from the time I started eating it to the time the last precious drop had dripped down my hand, chocolate and caramel smeared on the corners of my mouth, I was a different person. A happier person, more confident in my life choices, certain that everything that had happened in my life, however turbulent, had led me to this moment, so I must be doing something right.
1509 Mission St., Santa Cruz. 458-4214.