Why you should care
Because just look at it.
Ice cream sandwiches are the sweet stuff of childhood, whether they’re bought from a musical truck in your neighborhood or at a seaside stand, the sound of seagulls in the air. But the ice cream sandwiches of memory — blocks of vanilla pressed between two cookie layers — have come a long way in creativity and in flavor.
The Icessant is an upmarket and decidedly grown-up version of the summertime favorite. A flaky, butter-rich croissant is loaded with creamy soft serve ice cream that’s been slathered with Belgian chocolate sauce and topped with a chocolate flake for good measure. And you can get it at only one tiny beachfront store in Cape Town, South Africa, where a 10-mile stretch of white sand curves around the False Bay coastline.
Every component of the sandwich is as rich, as creamy, as decadent as it possibly can be.
“It’s not the kind of thing you’d eat between meetings on a Wednesday afternoon,” laughs CEO Pieter Bloem. He’s right. It’s also not the kind of thing you should try on a full stomach or without napkins on hand. Bootlegger Coffee has 10 stores in the city, but only the Muizenberg Beach branch, opened in February 2017, serves the Icessant. (It may be rolled out elsewhere, but equipment cost is a factor.) “The idea popped into my head sometime last year,” explains Bloem. “At first my chefs thought I was crazy. But then I convinced them to actually make one, and they changed their minds.”
Every component of the sandwich is as rich, as creamy, as decadent as it possibly can be. The croissant, made by old-school sister company Ou Meul Bakkery (Bloem is a co-owner), uses imported French butter, which is fattier than anything in South Africa and creates a flaky, multilayered pastry. The high-end soft serve machine has been set to not pump any air into the mixture of cream and sugar (cheap soft serve can be made up of 60 percent air). And the imported Belgian chocolate, used in both the sauce and the flake, contains no less than 70 percent cocoa.
If this all sounds a bit much, you can order either a plain or chocolate croissant, or an ice cream on its own (but the salted popcorn topping is great). There’s also a full range of espresso-based drinks (a flat white goes for $2), hot chocolates and milkshakes, as well as a selection of muffins, cookies and other sweet treats.
If the proof of the pudding is in the eating, the Icessant gets my vote. The bitter chocolate balances the sweetness perfectly, while the yummy, sticky combo of flaky pastry and oozy ice cream makes me pity the humble cone. I wolfed mine down in minutes, but if I were you, I’d share it between two (it is quite a lot to stomach) and follow it up with a swim in the often chilly waters of the Indian Ocean — partly to cleanse the metaphorical cobwebs, partly to wash the smears from your chin.
When you’ve had time to digest — be sure to factor in the sugar drop that hits about 40 minutes after eating it — and if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, why not sign up for a surfing (or kite-surfing) lesson from one of the schools on the promenade? Or go for a meal at one of the nearby restaurants.
“You’ll never forget your first Icessant,” says Bloem. “Even if it’s also your last.”
Get one: the Icessant
Price: R40 ($3.50)
Directions: Muizenberg Beach is about 15 miles from the center of Cape Town. Bootlegger is directly opposite the public toilets.
Pro Tip: Take the hop-on, hop-off bus to Cape Point (the world-famous landmark at the southern tip of Africa) and make a stop at Muizenberg on your way there.