Top Pot, Cupcake Royale innovating ice cream with caked goodness


by CAITLIN MURPHY / Special to

Posted on November 1, 2012 at 2:20 PM

Updated Thursday, Nov 1 at 3:07 PM

One of the toughest things about dessert can be deciding what to have.  Between scrumptious sweets like cakes, doughnuts, ice cream and pies, narrowing down the choices can be quite a task.

Leave it to two of Seattle’s favorite foodie institutions to make that choice a little bit easier. Top Pot Doughnuts and Cupcake Royale each used their signature doughnuts and cupcakes to create their own innovative and decadent ice creams.

Top Pot Doughnuts Ice Cream

Brothers Mark and Michael Klebeck, founders of Top Pot Doughnuts, have created doughnuts of legendary proportions. President Barack Obama and Senator Patty Murray made a stop at the 5th Avenue location in 2010 with the president declaring the doughnuts “outstanding.” In fact, an NFL football player even broke into a Top Pot store at three in the morning just to satisfy his doughnut craving.

Now Top Pot has added doughnut ice cream to its menu of sweet treats.

According to Top Pot co-founder Mark Klebeck, the idea for making an ice cream actually came from customers. Klebeck and his co-founder, his brother Michael, partnered with Snoqualmie Ice Cream for the base, and used Top Pot’s own doughnuts to create the flavors, with Top Pot staff holding meetings and numerous taste testing sessions to determine flavors.

Snoqualmie offered all-natural ice cream made with  milk and cream produced at a single farm near the Canadian border. 

The texture is dense, smooth and ultra creamy, and ice cream flavors like Apple Fritter, Double Trouble Chocolate and the famous Pink Feather Boa perfectly mimic their doughnut counterparts. Salted Caramel is the most popular, and Klebeck’s favorite might surprise you. It’s the Valley Girl Lemon Sorbet; Klebeck said he loves it for its snappy tartness. The flavor draws inspiration from the plump, powdered sugar covered Valley Girl Lemon doughnut that is filled with a creamy, pucker inducing lemon filling.

The maple bar ice cream is definitely a standout. It offers an intense, authentic maple flavor that is both rich and not too sweet. Scooping the ice cream can be tough, as it has a thick, dense texture. But it’s as light as air to eat and makes for an indulgent, heavenly treat.

It’s not a trip to Top Pot without one of the hand forged, hand iced, made from scratch doughnuts. So I recommend the full immersion experience that requires pairing the ice cream with its doughnut inspiration. You can try the ice cream at any one of Top Pot’s cafes.

Cupcake Royale Ice Cream

The saying is true, what goes better with cake than ice cream?

Cupcake Royale is one of the most innovative dessert shops around. It was the country’s first cupcake bakery to open outside of New York City and in 2012 was named to Food & Wine Magazine’s list of Best New Cupcakes in the U.S., making it more of a dessert institution.

Along with mouthwatering and creative cupcake flavors like Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel, Lavender and Tiramisu, Cupcake Royale creates a cupcake flavor of the month and bakes vegan cupcakes and cake pops. With all that creativity, it is no surprise that Cupcake Royale holds once a week innovation meetings where employees share their ideas for flavors and products. It was in those meetings that Cupcake Ice Cream was born.

Owner Jody Hall had been interested in doing cupcakes and ice cream for over a year, so the team began months of taste testing and ice cream education. Cupcake Royale’s Nicki Kerbs and James Lowell even travelled to Portland to learn the art of ice cream making with Salt & Straw, Portland's farm-to-cone ice cream shop.

Cupcake Royale’s ice cream texture is dense and rich, a consistency reached through adding less air to the base than most brands offer at grocery stores, but more air than is used in Italian style gelato. The result is a creamy ice cream with smoothness and a bit of bite.

There are two lines, the Cupcakes n’ Cream where signature cupcakes are hand folded into the ice cream, and the Bakeshop Inspired line which focuses on the most seasonal ingredients available.

One of the hallmarks of Cupcake Royale is the company’s commitment to using fresh, locally sourced, sustainable ingredients. Each ice cream flavor is housemade, hand churned and hand packed and built around an outstanding local ingredient. Sometimes it’s Scrappy’s bitters or a carrot from a local famer’s market or a crackle of Zoe’s bacon brittle.

The Cupcakes n’ Cream line was created to really highlight the cupcake. Ice cream is made in small batches and cupcakes, complete with icing, are hand folded into the mix.
Washington’s Edaleen Dairy makes the ice cream base. The Red Velvet ice cream was built to highlight the cream cheese and buttermilk flavors of the Red Velvet cupcake. The Peppermint Party uses a pound of muddled fresh organic mint in each batch, plus Seeley’s organic mint oil.

For the Bakeshop Inspired line, inspiration usually comes from a trip to the market for the freshest local ingredient. Lavender blueberry ice cream features local blueberries and Scrappy’s Lavender bitters while Triple Vanilla Ice Cream features Singing Dog Double Fold Vanilla from Eugene, Oregon.

While picking a favorite flavor is hard for owner Jody Hall, she says she has to go with the Bakeshop Inspired, Whiskey Maple Bacon Crack Bakeshop. This innovative flavor is a sweet and savory combination of maple ice cream infused with Woodinville Whiskey and bacon crack from local meat shop Zoe’s Meats folded into the ice cream.

The ice cream innovation doesn’t stop with flavors, Cupcake Royale’s other ice cream creations are dessert lover’s dream come true.

Customers can order up  scoops on a housemade red velvet waffle cone, enjoy creamy vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two slices of moist red velvet cake or dig into a made to order ice cream cookie sandwich. There’s the affogato where two shots of freshly brewed espresso are gently poured over your ice cream creating melty caffeinated goodness. Try the incredibly decadent cupcake milkshake with several scoops of ice cream and fresh milk blended with an entire cupcake. 

Ice cream is churned on site in the Pine Street location in downtown Seattle. Glass counters of perfectly coiffed cupcakes greet you and you can sit in the café enjoy any one of the ice creams or ice cream treats, or sip a housemade espresso and enjoy the street theater of the city.

You can also pick up ice cream pints in any one of Cupcake Royale’s cafes.