For me, growing up in the South meant a plethora of baked apple pies, cakes and cobblers on the dessert table during family gatherings. The sweet, cinnamon-packed apples had always seemed like an incredible inspiration for ice cream, but hardly any of the major manufacturers tend to take advantage. So when I ran across this unique looking, Apple Cobbler flavor from a North Carolina based creamery, I was intrigued enough to purchase a pint. After contacting Imladris Farms in an attempt to gain some more info, I learned a little more about their operation. Located only about 15 minutes from where I live in Asheville, NC, Imladris Farm is even closer than I had originally thought. According to an owner of the farm, "We own a sixth generation family farm just outside of Asheville, NC, where we grow, among other things, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and a small number of apple trees. We use that fruit, along with fruit from other local growers, to make a line of gourmet jams and preserves (also available from Earthfare). After looking at producing a line of ice cream several years ago, we realized that ice cream production is as much art as science, and decided it was smarter to partner with someone who had perfected that art rather than putting our clientele through several years of recipe tweaking on the way to a perfect product. That person is Kevin Barnes out at Ultimate Ice Cream (http://ultimateicecreamasheville.com/). We provide the jam (or in this case, apple butter) for Kevin, who turns it into the perfection you have in your freezer. The Apple Cobbler ice cream is simply our apple butter swirled into a sweet cream gelato." With all my questions answered and the origins of this flavor found, I was ready for my first sampling of this Apple Cobbler selection.
After removing the unlabeled lid, the first layer appeared bright white and showed small hints of the apple butter hiding beneath the surface. As far as the nutrition facts are concerned, Imladris Farm and Ultimate Ice Cream produce so few pints per year, that they aren't even required by law to have that information on hand. Despite the low-fat labeling, this sweet cream gelato doesn't melt down quickly and retains it's frozen form long after it's removed from the freezer. The base may resemble a simple, soft-serve vanilla, but the consistency and taste provides much more. This velvety gelato has a well balanced taste, and because of the big swirls inside, incorporates a bit of cinnamon-sugar into every single bite. Although the foundation of this flavor is mild and uncomplicated for the most part, it serves as an excellent aid in showcasing the top notch apple butter I would soon encounter.
Soon after eating away the first few layers of gelato, I found some sizable portions of the aforementioned apple butter. Ultimate Ice Cream must believe that there can't be too much of a good thing because they've packed as much of these preserves from Imladris Farm inside as they could. The oversized stripes really bring this flavor alive, adding a apple-cinnamon-sugar richness that accurately imitates the filling of an authentic apple cobbler. Seeing as how frozen fruit usually ends up being more of a hindrance than a help, I'm relieved to see they haven't attempted to include any actual apples. The thick texture and intense taste of the apple butter provide the ideal additions to the sweet cream gelato, making any other mix-ins unnecessary. Not only will I continue to check out the collaborations between Imladris Farm and Ultimate Ice Cream, but I also plan on visiting out some of their nearby scoop shops as well. The $6.99 price may be enough to scare some shoppers away, but it's a small price to pay for the combination contained inside this carton; especially when considering the local businesses you'll be supporting.
Where I Found It: Earth Fare