Andie Diemer
Vanilla orchid, salty caramel and pistachio & honey ice cream sandwiches are offered at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in Columbus, Ohio.
updated 8/7/2011 9:00:48 AM ET 2011-08-07T13:00:48

The majority of Americans eat ice cream, and fantastic parlors nationwide are creating brilliant flavors with ultracreamy textures to entice them.

Slideshow: America's best ice cream cities

The best ice cream artisans are choosing exceptional ingredients — from making their own mix-ins to using the sweetest seasonal fruits — and getting organic milk and cream from nearby dairy farms.

In Columbus, Ohio, Jeni Britton Bauer creates some of the most remarkable ice creams, sorbets and frozen yogurts in America at her three Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams shops. The young entrepreneur is an ingredient obsessive, instructing the farmers who supply her cream to gently pasteurize to her specifications.

“I love the taste of cream so much that I hate to cover it up with anything,” she explains.

Bauer has even worked with dairy professors at Ohio State University to deepen her understanding of the production process. The result of her research and development: incredibly smooth blends in imaginative flavors like wildberry lavender, Thai chili and exceptional salty caramel.

Salted caramel is among the popular flavors at Bi-Rite Creamery in San Francisco, the great ice cream town that’s also home to Humphry Slocombe, where experimental flavors include the signature Secret Breakfast made with bourbon and toasted cornflakes. At Bi-Rite, almost everything at the excellent shop is made from scratch, including the marshmallows for the Rocky Road.

Some exceptional purveyors are located directly on farms. At Moomers Homemade Ice Cream in Traverse City, Mich., locals eat the fantastic Cherries Moobilee ice cream (spotlighting regional cherries) while sitting on a deck that offers views of the grazing cows. On the East Coast, Woodside Farm Creamery in Hockessin, Del., churns flavors like peanut butter & jelly with its fresh milk.

Staying true to place is another way that ice cream specialists lure dessert-focused travelers. In New Orleans, The Creole Creamery turns a city specialty of sweet, creamy farmer’s cheese into a favorite flavor. The shop also serves amazing fountain-shop classics like banana splits and sundaes.

Admittedly, there are many reasons to visit the beautiful islands of Hawaii besides dessert, but Bubbies Ice Cream in Honolulu warrants its devoted following. There, Keith Robbins makes superb bite-size mochi, ice cream balls wrapped in a sweetened rice confection. Superstar chef Nobu Matsuhisa of Nobu restaurants is also a huge fan.

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