These Creamsicles Are Made with Fruit—But Not the One You're Thinking

August 25, 2016

I’m delighted by almost any dessert that pairs rich creamy ice cream with a jolt of tangy sorbet or sherbet. It’s the Creamsicle Effect—and it gets me every time.

No matter how sophisticated or intricate (or expensive) the dessert, I can’t help thinking about the iconic two-tone vanilla ice cream and orange sherbet ice pop that we bought from vending machines as kids. I haven’t had the real thing for decades; it’s the concept that’s genius. It’s all about tangy with creamy, tart with sweet, and icy with smooth: multiple contrasts.

There’s one final contrast that everyone experiences without noticing: The sherbet feels dramatically colder than the ice cream, even though they both just came out of the same freezer. As a result, you get contrasting textures, flavors, levels of sweetness, and temperatures. How impressive it that for a simple vending machine dessert? And what a great and simple lesson for curious cooks and aspiring dessert chefs—that a nonfat or low-fat sorbet, sherbet, or granita always feels colder than a rich ice cream, that a dish of ice cream gets a whole lot sexier when you add a scoop of sorbet or sherbet, or scrape a hailstorm of granita over the top.

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My updated Creamsicle is a combo of sour cream ice cream and tomato sorbet. I used my favorite dry-farmed Early Girl Tomatoes for the sorbet, and tipped my hat to the vending machine dessert of memory by adding a little grated orange zest.

Alice Medrich is a Berkeley, California-based pastry chef, chocolatier, and cookbook author. You can read more about what she's up to here.

Close your eyes and imagine your favorite vending machine or ice cream truck treat. Then tell us about it in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Ascender
  • Merrill Stubbs
    Merrill Stubbs
My career was sparked by a single bite of a chocolate truffle, made by my Paris landlady in 1972. I returned home to open this country’s first chocolate bakery and dessert shop, Cocolat, and I am often “blamed” for introducing chocolate truffles to America. Today I am the James Beard Foundation and IACP award-winning author of ten cookbooks, teach a chocolate dessert class on, and work with some of the world’s best chocolate companies. In 2018, I won the IACP Award for Best Food-Focused Column (this one!).


Ascender August 26, 2016
Looking more closely, I realize I even have dry farmed Early Girl tomatoes. Tis the season!
Ascender August 26, 2016
Wow! I was a passionate fan of Alice's Cocolat in the Berkeley Gourmet Ghetto from its opening in the mid-70's. Back then, I would splurge to buy truffles for $1 each. I still have (and treasure) of the wooden Cocolat boxes. I snatched it back when my daughter tried to adopt it. I loved orange cresmsicles in middle school. These sound much more wonderful. Can't wait to try them!
Merrill S. August 25, 2016
These sound amazing.