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Just Dessert: Big, fat ice cream sandwiches

Mt. Tom’s Homemade Ice Cream in Easthampton dishes up melting mountains

  • Ice cream sandwiches at Mt. Tom’s Homemade are big. SUBMITTED PHOTO

  • Ice cream sandwiches at Mt. Tom’s Homemade are big. SUBMITTED PHOTO

  • In addition to conventional ice cream sandwiches, Mt. Tom’s Homemade makes a vegan variety. GAZETTE STAFF/Lisa Spear



Staff Writer
Friday, September 01, 2017

Editor’s note: In this monthly column writer Lisa Spear indulges her sweet tooth by sampling desserts made at area restaurants.

Before I even walked through the door, the ice cream sandwiches at Mt. Tom's Homemade Ice Cream on Cottage Street in Easthampton beckoned me. Lit like perfect specimens from behind the display case, I could see them from the sidewalk. They seemed to scream out from behind the glass, “Eat me, eat meeeee.”

So, I did.

I didn’t need much convincing because, after all, I tend to agree with the store’s motto: “Life is Short. Eat Ice Cream.”

These treats look like ice cream sandwiches on steroids, double the size of any others I’ve seen, and if you aren’t careful, you might hurt your jaw trying to wrangle one into your mouth. But it’s worth it. I ordered a double chocolate chip cookie sandwich with a vanilla gelato center. The one I selected happens to be vegan, but you would never know it. There are a number of vegan ice cream sandwich flavors and the staff rotates among cashew milk, almond milk and coconut milk, says shop owner Jim Ingram. All the ice cream is churned on-site. The vegan cookies are made by baker Brianna McInerney, who works at the vegetarian Cafe Evolution in Florence. These come in every week, but tend to sell out fast, says the shop owner.

Vegan ice cream aside, there are typically a couple of conventional ice cream flavors to pick from, like the vanilla hugged between two chocolate chip cookies decorated with rainbow sprinkles. Then there is the double chocolate with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sprinkles. Ingram is considering adding pumpkin spice ice cream sandwiches to the choices in October. The cookies for these are purchased from Big Y supermarket.

Ingram is a former engineer who decided to reinvent himself as an ice cream purveyor 14 years ago. His calling for ice cream was as simple as “Ice cream makes people happy,” he says. “People love it.”

On a sunny Monday afternoon, I parked myself at the bar stool and ignored the cashier’s suggestion to let the ice cream sandwich warm up for a minute. I bit in immediately. It was as hard as rock, but the choclately cookie and creamy thick gelato tasted blissful. That creamy thickness is the result of churning the ice cream with less air, says Ingram. When the gelato melts a little, bleeding into the hard cookie, it gives it a sort of cookies-and-milk effect. I also found that if you strategize, you can save a bit of the cookie to dip into your coffee.

While the weather is still nice, people tend to come in and grab one of these and go for a stroll, says Ingram. There are a few benches on the sidewalk outside and the boardwalk facing the Nashawannuck Pond is nearby.

The ice cream sandwiches, especially the vegan ones, tend to sell out, says Abby Rivard, a “scoopervisor” at the shop. “They are a hot seller. They are hard to keep in the freezer.”

Cones, however, are still the favorites among customers, with more than 30 ice cream flavors to pick from on any given day.

The shop also doubles as a candy store. There are rows of old-timey candy jars filled with favorites like gummy bears and pixie sticks. There are giant rainbow lollipops and taffy. The candy is all sold by the pound and as one kid commented, as he stuffed his selections into a plastic bag, it is a “place of candy miracles.” 

Customers also are welcome to hang out inside. There is free Wi-Fi. In the corner by the window, there is a stack of board games like Candy Land, so the kids can play with their candy while they eat it. There also are books, like “Ice Cream Bear,” a children’s book about a lazy bear who dreams about ice cream raining from the sky. For the adult readers, there is “The Ice Cream Diet,” a book that declares that it is possible to lose weight while eating ice cream every day.

While I doubt I could be convinced about losing weight by way of ice cream, it’s a good excuse to indulge in Ingram’s treats.

Have you discovered a confection at a local eatery that makes you want to skip the main course?

Email Lisa Spear at Lspear@gazettenet.com.