When the heat is on and you’re craving something frosty, don’t settle for a basic vanilla cone. Opt for a specialty frozen treat that will satisfy your sweet tooth and then some.

Think Cucumber Mint Lime, Pineapple Ginger Cilantro, or Spicy Blueberry Lemonade with habanero peppers. “We have unique and intriguing flavors,” said Amy D’Angelantonio owner of Bees Knees Ice Pops in Kent with life partner, Glenn Hilliard. Summertime favorites include Strawberry Lemonade and Chocolate Banana with Coconut Milk. “We had a desire to create the classic popsicle using only simple real foods and no artificial colors, flavors, fillers, or corn syrup.” A homemade simple syrup of water and organic cane sugar adds sweetness and makes the pops a bit softer. “We source local ingredients as available throughout the season that highlight the flavors of summer and we offer some with different sweetness, like honey and dates, and some without any added sugars. This also distinguishes us from other pop companies,” D’Angelantonio said.

The pops are handcrafted in micro batches using simple, all-natural, gluten-free ingredients. They’re soy and peanut free; most are vegan. “Our pops are made with fresh fruits, herbs and sometimes even vegetables. They’re always dairy-free and we use mostly organic ingredients,” said D’Angelantonio, noting the pops are made in a peanut-free facility but do use coconut milk.

As small business owners, D’Angelantonio and Hilliard have limited their impact on the environment by wrapping every pop in 100% compostable and biodegradable packaging and donating leftover fruit rinds, seeds and stems to local farms for use as animal feed and for compost. Bees Knees sells their products at local farmer’s markets in Old Greenwich, Westport and New Canaan.

For people who are not necessarily vegan or have excluded dairy from their diets, Nutty Bunny offers an alternative, indulgent dessert. “Our sales have skyrocketed in the last couple of years as plant-based foods is the fastest growing segment of the food and beverage industry,” said Pamela Aflalo, owner of Nutty Bunny in Norwalk, noting all the products are nut-based. “Nuts are loaded with nutrients and protein, making for an ideal healthy snack.”

Nutty Bunny creates small batches of hand-crafted non-dairy frozen desserts that are 100% organic, vegan, non-GMO, paleo, naturally gluten-free, and made with nutrient-dense ingredients with no refined sugars. “Most people who try our products say, ‘I can’t believe this is NOT ice cream!’ They love the taste and that it has clean ingredients,” said Aflalo, adding her products don’t use gums, fillers, or artificial flavors, and she makes her own almond milk to increase its creaminess. You can feast on seven flavors, including vanilla, chocolate, orange blossom, toasted almond, salted caramel, and cappuccino. In 2016, The Connecticut Specialty Food Association named Nutty Bunny’s Orange Blossom first place and Chocolate third place in the Frozen Dessert Category.

Aflalo created the ice cream after her daughter, Sophie, developed serious allergies. “I have culinary training from the Natural Gourmet Institute and a research background, so I linked her allergies to dairy products and eliminated them from her diet, but she missed her ice cream!” said Aflalo who embarked on a journey to create something Sophie could eat. “I’m so grateful to provide a healthy, delicious treat for people who cannot or prefer not to consume dairy,” she added. “There’s nothing more refreshing on a hot summer day than enjoying cold, delicious, creamy ice cream!”

Thrill seekers will be impressed with Drop & Fry’s wildly indulgent fried ice cream. “We give ice cream a twist by frying it and making it look like an ice cream sundae. We use pound cake and funnel cake ingredients to give you a cake and crunch experience that will fascinate your mind,” said Mario Forte, co-owner of the Stamford-based food truck with childhood friend Irving Diaz. The process involves many steps. “We freeze the ice cream into balls, wrap them in pound cake and freeze them again. Once ready to be made, we dip it into our homemade funnel cake batter, fry it, and top it off with a variety of candies, fruits and syrups.”

You can take a walk on the wild side with I Dream PB, peanut butter cup ice cream filled with Reese's peanut butter syrup, wrapped in pound cake, fried then topped with powdered sugar, whipped cream, hot fudge and Reese's pieces; Oh No Cookie Dough!, cookie dough ice cream filled with hot fudge, wrapped in pound cake, fried then topped with powdered sugar, whipped cream, cookie dough and hot fudge; or Strawberry Pleasure, strawberry ice cream filled with strawberry syrup, wrapped in pound cake, fried then topped with powdered sugar, whipped cream, fresh strawberries and strawberry syrup. Simpler palates will appreciate fried ice cream topped with syrup and consumers can also design their own.

Forte and Diaz have traveled around the country, but found no one can make fried ice cream like them. “It’s hot then it’s cold. It can be customized to fruits or sweets. Not many people have done it and we want to be the next McDonald’s of fried ice cream!”