A new crop of gourmet dessert trucks is leaving Mister Softee in the dust.
New Yorkers aren't exactly patient, but they're more than happy to wait in line at the Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream truck for flavors like pistachio, red currant, and vanilla made with barrel-aged pods—not to mention toppings like Michel Cluizel cocoa nibs, vodka-soaked cherries, and Slow Food-endorsed Sicilian nuts. In August, two more Van Leeuwen trucks hit the pavement—these equipped with espresso machines (vanleeuwenicecream.com, from $4).
They'll join a growing army of mobile dessert peddlers catering as much to grown-ups as to kids. Elsewhere in Manhattan, The Treats Truck—which cruises on ecofriendly gas—sells more than 25 kinds of confections, including sugar cookies and cinnamon-spiked brownies. Its kid sister, Dot—a small white truck selling the same goodies—debuted last June (treatstruck.com, from $1). In New Haven, Conn., The Cupcake Truck makes a caramel cake with fleur de sel-flecked frosting, plus standards like chocolate and vanilla (followthatcupcake.com, $2). San Francisco's Waffle Mania uses artisanal dough from Belgium and dresses it up with whipped cream and chocolate. A second bus will roam Napa and Sonoma this summer (510/604-3009, from $3.50).
The problem with a rolling shop, of course, is that you need lucky timing to satisfy your sweet tooth. Solution: Twitter. After six weeks in business, San Francisco's Crème Brûlée Cart had more than 1,000 followers of its tweets. The custards come in vanilla, dark-chocolate-Chambord, and Baileys, and they're sprinkled with sugar and torched on-site (twitter.com/cremebruleecart, $3). Miami's Feverish Ice Cream Truck, which spins tracks from local hip-hop and indie-rock artists, uses Twitter to tell the club crowd where to get their strawberry shortcakes and soy-based ice-cream sandwiches (twitter.com/feverishmiami, fudgesicle $2). In Portland, Ore., Sol Pops fans check their feeds to find the raspberry-nectarine and cucumber-lime-jalapeño popsicles sold from a fleet of 1970s tricycles (twitter.com/solpops, paleta $2).