The scene at the Corona del Mar Plaza is one that’s no stranger to large crowds and long lines.
Just south of Fashion Island in Newport Beach, the quaint shopping center has a parking lot that is always packed and a continous line of customers trailing out the door of one particular bakery. But as of April 3, there are now two distinct lines: one in front of Sprinkles Cupcakes, and the newest one two doors down in front of its sister, Sprinkles Ice Cream.
Founded in 2005 in Beverly Hills by Candace Nelson, who was inspired by her grandmother’s San Francisco restaurant during the 1930s, Sprinkles Cupcakes became an overnight sensation when it sold 2,000 cupcakes in just one week after their opening. Now with 12 locations stretching as far as Texas and New York, Americans everywhere have been exposed to Nelson’s sophisticated cupcakes — baked with luxury ingredients such as sweet cream butter and Callebaut chocolate — and the famous minimalist logo stamped on top of each one.
So it makes sense that Nelson took her bakery’s continental success and created an ice cream parlor out of it.
One of just two locations (so far), Sprinkles Ice Cream in Newport Beach is a small white box of minimalism, practically a mirror image of Sprinkles Cupcakes. The interior is even more modern, with sleek white walls, floors and a huge round counter that provides enough room for a multitude of busy employees to fill ice cream orders behind it (and when I went, I counted ten of them).
Unfortunately, while there’s a lot of room for ice cream and workers, there’s not enough space inside the tiny shop to hold customers. Just like its predecessor, Sprinkles Ice Cream is designed for aesthetic appeal, not for convenience. Hence, the hour to two-hour long, out-the-door wait that you should expect to find when you visit.
But the abundance of ice cream flavors and quality of its ingredients make the epic poem of a wait worth it. Sprinkles Ice Cream offers 20 original ice cream flavors with the same kind of fresh ingredients you’d expect from Sprinkles, along with six sauces and 12 toppings, but a note of caution: while some ice cream flavors are permanent, many are offered on certain days of the week.
And better yet, you can consume your scoops in various ways, either classically in a cup or waffle cone, or more creatively in a sundae, sandwich or shake. Sprinkles Ice Cream also dabbles in homemade cookie-making, offering six different kinds of cookies to sandwich your ice cream flavor of choice with.
I decided to go with the classic ice cream cone, and being a lover of all things red velvet, I chose the red velvet ice cream in a red velvet waffle cone.
If you’re already a fan of Sprinkles Cupcake’s red velvet cupake, you can’t go wrong with the ice cream version: the recipe includes sweet cream mixed with bits of premade red velvet cake and signature cream cheese frosting. You get the ice cream-and-cake experience in one scoop. Although I admit the combination of cupcake and ice cream was a sugar overload and a little too rich for my taste, the red velvet waffle cone provided a crisp and light balance.
I also tried the exlcusive coffee fudge almond (thank God it was a Saturday) in a vanilla waffle cone and the sweetness of the ice cream was thankfully less intense than the red velvet — and perfect for coffee lovers. The coffee flavor was strong, the housemade fudge was thick and rich and the toasted California almonds were fresh. As for the vanilla cone, I personally couldn’t taste the difference between that and the red velvet cone.
Sprinkles Ice Cream is a sweet tooth’s paradise. If you can handle cake, ice cream and fudge all at once, you’ll get your money’s worth. Otherwise, stick to the lighter sorbets or opt for a single scoop. Sprinkles Ice Cream has caught on just as quickly as Sprinkles Cupcakes has — only time will tell whether or not it will succeed its big sister.
Rating: 4 out of 5