When Donald Sargent and his wife, Clarissa Morelli, decided to open an ice cream shop, they wanted to stand out. In 2008 they opened Morelli’s on Moreland Avenue and received almost instant acclaim. Customers and local critics raved about their unique flavors, like coconut jalapeno and sweet corn, and within a year of opening Morelli’s was named by Bon Appétit by one of the best ice cream shops in America. But despite the shop’s reputation for unusual flavors, their most popular offering is their salted caramel ice cream. “We always have to have it on the menu,” says Morelli.
Morelli and Sargent decided to offer the flavor after visiting ice cream shops in California, where they saw salted caramel on nearly every menu. “We just wanted to make it a little bit different,” Morelli says. “We made it a little bit saltier and made our own caramel.” They also used a higher butterfat base to create the ice cream’s creamy texture and rich taste. But Morelli claims that the real secret to their ice cream is how they make it. “We use gelato machines to make our ice cream,” she says. “That way we don’t incorporate as much air as American-style ice cream.” At the Moreland Avenue store, they sell upwards of 1,000 gallons of salted caramel ice cream every month.
Morelli still can’t pinpoint why salted caramel is such a popular flavor, especially given the shop’s reputation for unusual combinations like rosemary olive oil and ginger lavender. “It’s such a traditional flavor,” she says. “But people will come and try everything on the menu, and they still decide to go with the salted caramel.”