SCOOP Blog is kicking off National Ice Cream Month with a review of one of our favorite stops on our recent trip to New York.
Ben and Jerry’s may have invented cookie dough ice cream, but Jennnifer Welser and Jonathan Baker of Je & Jo have perfected it. An unlikely ice cream shop located in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, Je & Jo looks a lot more like a café than one of the top ice cream shops in the country. But behind the top-of-the-line espresso machine, visitors will note a small freezer containing thousands of tiny cups of organic, velvety goodness, each jam-packed with different types of cookie dough.
That’s right, Je & Jo has done away with the ice cream scoop. Following in the tradition of hundreds of NY shops that were forced to invent new business methods given the limited space provided by insane rent, Je & Jo packs all of its ice creams into small, single serving cups. Unfortunately, that means no free samples, and the wrong choice of flavor could be enough to make a long trek for creamy goodness into a sad, sad affair. And the product ain’t cheap – at $4.50 a cup, you had better hope for some delicious ice cream. And it is. Je & Jo definitely delivers and is a most worthy destination for any ice cream tourist.
It looks like a cafe. But check out that hand-cranked ice cream machine on top!
The ice cream flavors Je & Jo turns out are top-notch, but most memorable are the creative, wonderfully paired cookie doughs in each cup. Inside almost every flavor (except the token gluten-free option), you will find a unique cookie dough, specially designed for the cream base. For example, the fresh mint flavor SCOOP Blog tried was gloriously paired with a lavender shortbread cookie dough. The dough really tasted like the most perfect shortbread, and the perfectly balanced lavender flavor paired perfectly with the intense, fresh mint flavor (did we forget to mention that this flavor was perfect?). Other options were similarly paired with unique cookie doughs, taking the art of mix-in pairings to new heights. Interestingly enough, while reviewing Je & Jo, we discovered that the cookie dough is all concentrated into the middle of the cup. We found this arrangement to be practical for the customer, because you can control exactly how much cookie dough you eat in each bite, rather than being forced to forage through the scoop to find delectable bits.
The cream base is also top notch, using organic milk from the local Hudson Valley Fresh dairy. SCOOP Blog found the ice cream to have a noticeable density, along with a wonderful smoothness. Our only gripe here is that the cups are each accompanied by wooden spoons, which make it hard to scoop the ice cream until it has thawed for several minutes. Some sturdy biodegradable spoons would have made a perfect eating utensil. Personally, we also thought there could have been a little more density to the base, but this is really a matter of preference, and a slightly less dense ice cream likely helps the cookie dough integrate better into the texture.
The flavor of each cream base was also impressive, although in some instances, it seemed to play second fiddle to the cookie dough. Most noticeably, in our review, we found the strawberry ice cream had a weaker flavor than other powerhouse strawberry flavors, like Blue Marble’s. We have it on good word that this flavor has since been strengthened, as Je & Jo tweaked the flavor throughout strawberry season. As for the honey thyme cookie dough nestled inside our strawberry cup, we would buy that cookie dough by the bucket if it were sold separately. But given that the flavor emphasized the freshness, locality and seasonality of the organic strawberries, we would have really liked to experience the flavor and nuance of strawberry a little more, and can't wait to stop by next season to try the tweaked version.
Je & Jo is a gem, and we highly recommend making the trip out to Hell’s Kitchen, even if it is a little bit out of the way. And while you’re there, pick up a cup of some of their great coffee, too, roasted by New York’s own Grumpy Coffee.
Flavor Tasting Notes
Our favorite flavor at Je & Jo, and one of the best mint ice creams we've ever reviewed. The base is dense and extremely smooth, with some of the largest concentration of mint leaf flecks we've ever seen in an ice cream. The ice cream is paired with a lemon lavender shortbread cookie dough, whose delicate, flowery, herbal notes perfectly complement the strong, yet balanced, natural mint flavor. Wow. Highly recommended.
The honey thyme flavored cookie dough is some of the best cookie dough we've ever had! Really original, delicious flavor. The strawberry base is a cut above, but we felt it could have been even stronger in flavor.
For those math geeks among us, "^3," or cubed, is in reference to the three types of chocolate in this flavor. Chocolate base, with chocolate cookie dough, and Guittard brand chocolate cookie bits. This flavor was a respectable chocolate, but probably our least favorite at Je & Jo. We though the flavor of the cream was a bit mild for our tastes, and a bit too subtle. The flavor of the chocolate base doesn't really stand up to the stronger flavored mix-ins.
Je & Jo515 W 47th St New York, NY 10036