The scoop on Handel’s Ice Cream

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Adrian Chen

CAN YOU HANDEL IT?: With four scoops of sweetness in a small, only the most skilled ice cream snackers can successfully consume Handel’s huge ice creams.

Karen Bruce, Staff Writer

The experience at Handel’s Ice Cream can be best described as “all-American,” not only in its vintage red-white-and-blue color scheme and charismatic employees, but perhaps most of all in its “small” serving sizes that quite objectively did not feel small. 

Handel’s Ice Cream opened their Market Place location on Feb. 24, marking the fifth of its franchise in Orange County. Situated on the block with the Regal Edwards theater and Pieology Pizzeria, the parlor is in the perfect location for a post-movie or post-dinner dessert.

With so many popular ice cream parlors already open in the Irvine area—Haagen-Dazs at the Irvine Spectrum, Cold Stone Creamery at the Culver Plaza and even Dairy Queen just across the street from the newly opened shop—Handel’s has tough competition, but it seems to have the potential to become a local favorite in due time.

Handel’s ice creams are homemade and churned right on site daily, meaning the finest and richest tastes are sure to dance upon your tongue. And no other parlor comes close to the over 50 different flavors Handel’s has to offer, not to mention its various vegan sorbets, sherberts and ices. 

With its abundance of choice, the potential to discover your perfect ice cream flavor is there… right? Not entirely. All of the flavors are hidden away from customers in multiple carts behind the front counter and pictures of items are missing from the menu. So when it comes time to order, you’re practically shooting into the dark with only words on the menu as reference. My recommendation would be to look up the flavors before your visit or to ask for multiple rounds of samples before making your final choice. 

I chose two of the March “flavors of the month” upon my visit: the Mint Chocolate Chip (appropriately a vivid green for St. Patrick’s Day) and Coffee Chocolate Chip (a caffeine kick to accommodate for the lost hour of sleep in daylight saving time). I also tried the Oree-Dough, a vanilla ice cream mixed with Oreo crumbs and pieces of cookie dough, as well as all three cone options: the regular bowl, the waffle cone and the waffle bowl.

The Coffee Chocolate Chip was the stand-out for me, with a distinctly rich caffeine taste and appropriate sweetness that did not feel artificially produced. And compliments due to the Oree-Dough, which had a wonderful balance between ice cream and cookie contents inside, making for an interesting eating experience. The best cone, in my opinion, was the waffle bowl, which provides the best of both worlds: the ice cream doesn’t drip down onto your fingers like it would in a cone, but you’re still able to experience the delight of the crispy waffle cookie.

My main concern was purely in the serving size. My $5.95 “small” cone could hardly be called small, with four whole scoops of ice cream that towered taller than the cone itself. While it was a challenge to consume this large amount of ice cream, especially as it was melting quickly, there is no question that you will be receiving more than your money’s worth. Perhaps be mindful that as you drive home, you may be jittering under a sugar high.

The ice cream itself was creamy and delectable, each scoop filled with love. It’s worth a visit, but I would suggest going with family or a group of friends to share a single waffle bowl and experience together what is ranked the No. 1 ice cream in the world. As you sit by the fountain underneath the palm trees, you may soon find yourself in love with this all-American taste. 

You can discover the sweetness at 13786c Jamboree Road, open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily or order online through handelsicecream.com