Guilty Pleasures

The Baked Bear in Scottsdale Takes The Ice Cream Sandwich To The Next Level

The Guilty Pleasure: Custom ice cream sandwiches
Where to Get It: The Baked Bear
Price: $3.95-$4.95
What it Really Costs: A hard fall off the diet wagon. But you can always climb back on tomorrow. 

For a certain set of Phoenicians, summer would not be complete without a beach vacation to San Diego. And for some, a San Diego vacation would not be complete without a visit to The Baked Bear, a custom ice cream sandwich shop that has earned a reputation in recent years as the place to go for enormously decadent and Instagram-friendly ice cream desserts. 

But if you can't make it to San Diego this summer for your favorite ice cream indulgence, fear not. The Baked Bear recently opened its first Arizona franchise location in Scottsdale, just east of Scottsdale Road on Shea Boulevard in the Village at Shea shopping center. Judging from the long line streaming out of the Scottsdale location on a recent evening, Arizonans are welcoming The Baked Bear with open arms. 

The Baked Bear is probably best known for its cookie ice cream sandwiches, which you can custom order from a menu of 12 different homemade ice creams and 10 different kinds of soft-baked cookies, which are baked in-house. 

But if a cookie ice cream sandwich is too conventional for you, you can opt to substitute the top or bottom of your ice cream sandwich with a full-size brownie — or even a half-doughnut. Or you can skip the cookies altogether and order a full doughnut ice cream sandwich, or a sandwich made with two brownie pieces — or pretty much any combo that you can dream up. There are no rules at The Baked Bear.

Of course, there is a full menu of add-on toppings, which includes everything from hot fudge and sprinkles to Fruity Pebbles and Oreo crumbs. 

The hardest part about ordering at The Baked Bear is figuring out exactly what kind of sandwich you want. In fact, as you wait your turn in line, a wave of indecision-induced panic may grip you for a minute as you try to imagine all the possible flavor configurations: Should you order a Red Velvet cookie sandwich made with cookie dough-flavored ice cream, rolled in Fruity Pebbles? Or maybe you should get a chocolate cookie sandwich with mint chip ice cream, rolled in M&M candies? 

The flavor combos, and possibilities, are nearly endless. No matter what you settle on, though, the final product is likely to be pretty over-the-top decadent and delicious. 

On a recent visit, we tried two Red Velvet cookies with the shop's signature Bear Batter ice cream, which is a bright blue ice cream made with cake batter, fudge, and brownie bits. The ice cream was nicely blended, with the high sweet notes of cake frosting, and it paired well the chewy Red Velvet cookies. 

A doughnut ice cream sandwich, stuffed with birthday cake ice cream and rolled in brightly colored sprinkles, was even more fun to eat. The airy, stretchy yeast doughnut, which you can order with or without glaze (but why would you order it without glaze?), kept its texture while also soaking in some of the ice cream flavor. 

A brownie-and-cookie ice cream sandwich, meanwhile, was probably the least successful of the three sandwiches we tried. The brownie was too dense to soak up any ice cream, although it's hard to quibble about eating a chocolate brownie with a side of homemade ice cream. 

No matter what you order, though, be warned that these are hefty ice cream sandwiches, each packed with such a thick slab of ice cream that you'll wonder whether you should even attempt to fit one into your mouth, or rather pick at it gingerly with a plastic spoon. Either way is okay. There are no rules at The Baked Bear. 

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Patricia Escárcega was Phoenix New Times' food critic.