People love their ice cream — the average American eats about 23 pounds of ice cream every year, in fact.
But there's one ice cream sundae found in New York City that's far from typical. The "Bear Extraordinaire," which debuted Wednesday at Baccarat Hotel New York in Manhattan, is the country's most expensive sundae, and it will set you back a cool $1,500.
So what do you get for $1,500?
The base of the dessert is house-made vanilla ice cream — using "imported vanilla beans from Madagascar," pastry chef Rosario Wakabayashi tells CNBC Make It.
The ice cream is covered in a white chocolate shell that's hand-painted with colored cocoa butter. It sits atop 3 grams of black truffle crumble (an ounce of black truffle costs an average $95), which is portions of black truffle mixed with high-end 64 percent Manjari dark chocolate (also from Madagascar) and Valrhona Gold cocoa nibs. Enveloping the shell is a hibiscus champagne sauce, with citrus meringue, and it's further embellished with delicate fondant butterflies sitting on angel hair sugar strands. Edible gold and silver leafing add an (expensive) touch of color.
"We crack the ice cream shell open with a spoon. It's a fun dish," says Wakabayashi.
Even fancier than the sweets is the dish, which gives the dessert its name. The ice cream is served in a $1,200 clear Baccarat "Zoo Bear" crystal bowl, which has a porcelain base decorated with a honeycomb motif and is topped by crystal in the shape of a friendly bear's face.
Diners who buy the treat get to keep the figurine, which is individually numbered and signed by the designer.
The ice cream dish without the bear crystal can be ordered for $300.
So is the sundae worth the price? I tried it to find out.
Inside the white chocolate shell, the vanilla ice cream is not cold and so soft enough to scoop. You can taste the richness of the vanilla beans and it's much creamier than other ice creams I've had. There were varying levels of sweetness, from the champagne sauce to the dark chocolates, and the truffle crumble added crunch as well as a subtle, earthy flavor.
Was it delicious? Yes. Would I pay $300 to have it again? For a very special occasion or if I had disposable income, I might consider it. But the truth is, I'm perfectly happy going home to the three pints of $4 Talenti ice cream in my fridge.
Still, the dessert is an edible work of art. Wakabayashi says she was inspired by color when envisioning her creation, and was influenced by the Baccarat crystal butterflies collection in the Grand Salon of the hotel, as well as the hues of Madagascar.
Wakabayashi says "Bear Extraordinaire" is currently the most expensive ice cream dessert in the country based on her research.
Close behind, Serendipity 3 in Manhattan sells a $1,000 ice cream sundae, as CNBC Make It reports. Serendipity 3 also made the Guinness Book of World Records in 2007 for a $25,000 sundae, which is no longer sold.
In Tanzania, there's a $60,000 sundae that comes with first-class flights and five-star accommodations with Three Twins Ice Cream. An actual ice cream you can buy on the website, "The world's more expensive most expensive ice cream sundae" includes a guided climb to Mount Kilimanjaro. There, according to the site, the Three Twins Ice Cream's founder "will hand-churn a batch of ice cream with glacial ice from the mountain's summit." The price includes as much ice cream as you can eat.
Disclosure: Baccarat Hotel New York provided CNBC Make It with the sample ice cream in the video. This story has been updated.
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