In an era where dessert is often evaluated by its Instagram potential, Los Angeles shines as one of the world’s premier cities for sweet treats. Join Daily Bruin staffers each week as they visit different dessert joints, going behind the scenes to give you an exclusive look into the creation of trending sugary concoctions.
A neon-blue sign reading “Cookie Monsters Only” beamed at passersby through the window of The Baked Bear’s Burbank location.
Polar bear cartoons and other frosty blue tones line the interior, a tribute to the store’s specialty blue “Bear Batter” ice cream. The custom ice cream sandwich shop invites patrons to choose from brownies, doughnuts and a variety of cookies as they inch toward the checkout counter. Later, they can choose their ice cream flavor and toppings. During my visit to the snack shack, I prepared ice cream sandwiches with doughnuts, Funfetti cookies and “Bear Batter” ice cream. While The Baked Bear’s elaborate offerings certainly impress both visually and at first bite, the excessive levels of sugar eventually led me to give up on the dessert before finishing my serving.
Upon entering, I made my way to the serving counter where I was was greeted by the Burbank location’s Team Leader, Adrianne Inda. A crowd of customers also strolled into the store at the same time, allowing me a moment to observe the serving
process before I tried it out for myself. We headed into the kitchen, which was appropriately suited to the relatively small location, plated with metallic refrigerators and storage spaces in each corner. Cartons of sprinkles, chocolate chips and other sugary toppings were lying on shelves higher up the wall, and, as I turned the corner, I ended up behind the counter that kept trays of cookies and cartons of ice cream on display.
Inda invited me back into the kitchen, grabbing a tray of M&M cookie dough clusters from the refrigerator. All of The Baked Bear’s cookies are made in-house daily, Inda said. We arranged the cookie dough on a fresh tray and stored the tray in the oven before going back out to the visible customer-serving counter, beginning the sandwich-crafting process with already-made cookies.
Inda handed me a pair of gloves before teaching me how to whip up two menu items – an extravagant doughnut ice cream sandwich and one of the store’s signature cookie ice cream sandwiches. We began by each taking two baked Funfetti cookies in our hands, into which we scooped out birthday cake ice cream. Inda showcased her experience, sculpting the treats to perfection as she leveled the ice cream around the cookie’s circumference. Meanwhile, I struggled to scoop even amounts of ice cream, which eventually resulted in a drippy mess. After packing the creamy dessert in between the two cookies, we headed to a counter full of toppings and rolled the sandwich through a batch of multicolored sprinkles, leaving the mostly-white ice cream hidden behind the topping’s vibrancy.
Inda explained that The Baked Bear offers customers the option of buying their dessert sandwiches hot-pressed, and demonstrated the process to me, which was similar to using a panini press. Basic and speedy, the hot-press step was essential to my enjoyment of the sandwich, and provided the ideal texture and temperature for immediate consumption.
Inda and I then placed the store’s signature “Bear Batter” ice cream, a bright-blue cake batter flavor with chunks of fudge and brownies, between two halves of a plain doughnut, sprinkling dashes of powdered sugar on top. The top half of the doughnut tore as I put it atop the blue ice cream, its softer texture incompatible with the hard, frozen ice cream. Inda and I topped it off by crisscrossing a soft blue glaze over the doughnut.
After my first bite of the sandwich, I separated the doughnut layers from the actual ice cream – the bland, bread-like taste of the doughnut distracted from the otherwise delicious and visually appealing ice cream flavor. Similarly, while the birthday cake ice cream sandwich contained my favorite flavor, I couldn’t bring myself to finish the bulky snack. It was almost sickeningly sweet, reminiscent of a treat I would have devoured without hesitation as a child. The experience of crafting my own confections, however, felt exciting and simultaneously relaxing with the clear process and opportunity to taste the chain’s forte foods. The Baked Bear offers a refreshing take on the classic ice cream sandwich, fitting only for dessert devotees.