The first time I had fried ice cream was a few years ago at a Mexican restaurant in Las Vegas. The ball of vanilla ice cream was coated in crushed corn flakes, quickly deep-fried and served by itself on a plate. I thought it was good, but nothing I would get a craving for. I have since learned that not all fried ice creams are created equal.
On a recent Saturday night, my husband and I were roaming around town, killing some time before going to view the Leonid Meteor Shower. We ended up over on North McCarran Boulevard, where the Hacienda Restaurant & Bar looked pretty inviting.
Now, Scott and I have been to the Hacienda before—we really like their chips and salsa—but we have never tasted their fried ice cream. Unlike me, Scott is a big fan of the dessert and has tasted it at several different places. He has always wanted to try it at the Hacienda, but after dinner there, we are usually too full to even think about fried ice cream. So this night, we decided to stop in just for the dessert.
We ordered as soon as we were seated (no sense in stalling when ice cream could be on its way) and snacked on chips while we waited.
The atmosphere at the Hacienda is laid-back, with soft lighting and a calming sunset mural painted on the walls. This is quite a different setting from the bar/smoking section, which is on the other side of the restaurant and almost completely separated, though from our seats we could hear the music coming from there.
We didn’t have to wait long for our fried ice cream, and as soon as our waiter set the dish down, I knew this was not going to be the same dessert I had tried before. The fried ice cream ($4.25) was served in a light cinnamon and sugar tostada shell, covered with whipped cream and topped with a cherry. Before Scott and I dug in, we also noticed a light dusting of cinnamon and sugar on the whipped cream, along with just a few chocolate sprinkles.
Hiding underneath the whipped cream was a ball of French vanilla ice cream, but this one was not coated in corn flakes. Instead, it was covered in a hard shell of crushed graham crackers, walnuts, honey and cinnamon. If that weren’t enough, caramel was drizzled along the top of the crust.
With so many different ingredients, the dessert runs the risk of being too sweet, but that wasn’t the case here. The creaminess of the ice cream blended perfectly with the sweetness of the crunchy outer crust, and the result was absolutely delicious.
My favorite part of the whole dessert was the bottom, where the crust, the caramel and the slightly melted ice cream mix together and soak the cinnamon and sugar tostada shell. Mmmmm.
I was disappointed when I took the last bite and realized that the dessert was all gone; I could have easily finished another one by myself. I decided to wait for another day—we had a meteor shower to go watch—but the next time we are at the Hacienda, I will definitely save room for dessert.
Danelle Clarke is a graduate student in the math department at the University of Nevada, Reno.