the world's best ice cream (literally!): can you Handel it?

by kellybakes in


I met my friend Claire halfway around the world when we spent our summer studying abroad in Ireland, but her friendship was one of the best things I brought back with me. (If I had been able to smuggle back some donuts from the donut man, Claire would probably get demoted to second best, but she understands...) Aside from a shared residence in the library and a love of baking, Claire and I both love going on food adventures. When we were in Galway, we spent Saturday mornings perusing the myriad of organic vegetables and the mountains of cheeses at the Farmers Market (not to mention the Walter Special at the crepe truck...). She didn't even judge me when I bought six donuts from the donut man and ate them in two days. We set an afternoon aside for a tea party with a tower of delicate cakes and sumptuous sweets. In Dingle, it was a trip to Murphy's for ice cream affigato and Mexican hot chocolate. If there was good food to be found, we scoured the city, sought it out and savored every last bite.

Now that we're back at school, I worried that things might change. That perhaps a love of food and our shared sarcasm wouldn't be enough to keep our friendship together. I don't know why I even worried. See, when we were ready to go home and compiling our lists of places to eat when we got back to the states, Claire happened to mention Handel's. One of the perks about being friends with the locals is that they know all the best places to eat. Claire is from the area so we have an entire year to hit up all the amazing food places that the Philly area has to offer. I can't wait.

So, yesterday we crossed off the first thing on our Philly-area to-eat list. Handel's originated in Ohio, but I'm happy to have it 20 minutes down the road in Berwyn. I've driven by it before, but thought it nothing more than a generic Dairy Queen. Boy was I mistaken!

I have to say, they know their stuff. As I was eating, I discovered the sign that said that National Geographic voted them #1 in the World's Best Ice Cream (WOW! - they beat out juggernauts Hagen Daaz and Coldstone Creamery. They've been at it since 1945 and I'm certain they'll keep it going for years to come, just so long as they don't change their recipe.
True to recent form, I opted for banana ice cream and peanut butter parfait. I hesitant to commit to banana given its textural difficulty to master. Then I was perplexed about what Buckeye ice cream consisted of and how it differed from peanut butter parfait. A few baby spoon samples later and I was set in my choices. I know I raved about Bassett's banana ice cream, but Handel'sis top banana (I couldn't resist). It has a much creamier consistency, but still packs a lot of banana flavor without adding a gummy texture. The peanut butter ice cream had a surprising texture--it was definitely not as dense as most ice cream (even half-the-fat double-churned varieties). I would love to find out how they churn their ice cream to get it so airy and light. It was almost the consistency of soft serve!

Comfort we sought and Handel's certainly delivered!