Summertime in Argentina means one thing: helado. Similar to gelato and served in a cone, cup, cup-cone, or by the kilo, ice cream has such a strong devoted following, it might one day become the national religion. Natural and preservative free, most ice cream makers still make their helado the old fashion artisanal Italian way, managing to spark a South American-wide obsession.
Even though the Porteño palate customarily preferred of a strict helado diet of dulce de leche, chocolate, and, well let’s be honest, more dulce de leche flavored ice cream, several heladerías are changing the game and expanding their sweet gelato horizons. Creameries in Buenos Aires have begun experimenting, turning to traditional Argentine dishes and ingredients for inspiration to churn out innovative flavors and create contemporary combinations. With the warm weather shining down on the Southern Hemisphere’s ice cream capital, here are three Argentine helado spots to lick up some new flavors essential to summertime this season.
Paraguay 5502, Palermo Hollywood. +54 11-4899-0541
A barrio favorite, Capricci is known for scooping up traditional flavors to loyal neighborhood customers for over 30 years. Artisanal ice cream at accessible prices, it seems like the bike and moto delivery boys never stop their rounds of delivering helado by the kilos. And a lot of kilos, at that. On delivery alone, Capricci sends out over 350 kilos of helado per day during peak summer months. That’s about 171 gallons or more than 5,472 scoops.
Even though Porteños have yet to wise up to the wonders of peanut butter (and even less to the marvels of the chocolate peanut butter marriage), one of Capricci’s most prized flavors is the Chocolate Marroc. Bocaditos Marroc, a popular chocolate candy available in grocery stores, candy shops, and kioscos, is an addictive one-bite wonder that layers creamy milk chocolate with a subtly flavored silky peanut butter paste. In Capprici’s helado, chunks of marroc chocolate are chopped up into bite sized morsels and blended with rich chocolate ice cream to form a smooth, rich chocolate ice cream generously loaded with nuggets of peanut candy surprises.
Dolce Morte - Elena Restaurant & Pony Line Bar, Four Seasons
Cerrito 1455, Recoleta. +54 11 4321-1728
You know the ice cream is going to be hardcore when the brand’s logo is a skull and crossbones. “You understand that this is me in a cone,” Joaquín Grimaldi, the punk rock pastry chef at the Four Seasons tells us as he presents Dolce Morte, his new line of avant-garde ice cream flavors. Bringing a fresh, soulful, and intense type of helado to the traditional Porteño ice cream world, Grimaldi sought out to create one of the first 100% original lines of limited produced ice cream in the country.
Dolce Morte, which has a dark edge, translates to “sweet death” in Italian, and is Grimaldi’s personal passion product, served atop a black waffle cone because “it is black, just like my soul.” With a knack for creating whimsical ice cream flavors, Grimaldi brings a distinct eye to conventional desserts. Each flavor embodies three different textures and is created using three cooking methods. The flan con dulce de leche takes top honors, paying homage to the classic local postre of a thick, creamy flan custard, entwined with gooey swirls of thick dulce de leche, and all topped with buttery caramel candy. The ChokoTorta is another standout flavor. A play on Argentina’s no-bake birthday cake, the chocotorta is made with chocolate cookies soaked in coffee and layered between a filling of dulce de leche and sweet cream cheese. The ice cream version is made up of a silken creamy dulce de leche ice cream, every bite a crumbly, moist chocolate cookie mouthful.
While Dolce Morte will soon be available for purchase across the city, you can find it now at Elena Restaurant and Pony Line Bar at The Four Seasons Hotel.
Cerviño 3901, Palermo. +54 11 4801-8126
Direct from Patagonia, Jauja excites helado lovers year round with more than 80 original artisanal flavors. It’s no surprise this ice cream constantly makes the cut as the best in the city; the homemade, all-natural flavors come directly from their factory in El Bolsón. All products used are farm-fresh and locally sourced, and in every spoonful you can taste high quality ingredients like berries from the Patagonian forest and fresh sheep’s milk from a family farm in El Calafate.
While Jauja excels at all the classics, offering more than 13 types of chocolate and more than 9 versions of dulce de leche ice cream, this family owned heladería is best known for their more adventurous flavors. “There’s a lot of testing, trying out new recipes and ingredients, and of course a lot of tasting. We are constantly creating new flavors, using all high quality ingredients we find locally in Patagonia,” said manager Lucas de la Vega Mazzini.
What are some of Jauja’s top picks this season? During the holidays, locals can ring in the New Year with Sidra, a take on the traditional celebratory sparkling cider. Another refresher? Argentina’s national drink, yerba mate, is mixed with milk and sugar to transform into the energy boosting helado Mate Cocido. Mazzini also recommends Limsau during the hot Porteño summer, a flavor for more adventurous ice cream eaters. It’s a refreshing blend of elder flowers and lemon sorbet. For ice cream traditionalists that still want a bit of edge, Mazzini says the Dulce de Leche con Moras is a must. “It's our classic dulce de leche, but packed with fresh blackberries from Patagonia. It’s the perfect combination of sweet dulce de leche but cut with chunks of the slightly tart and acidic blackberry.”