Trying Dragon’s Breath at Cloud Nine Creamery. Photo credit: JiaYing Grygiel
I made the mistake of Googling “Dragon’s Breath” just before a planned visit to try out the new, liquid-nitrogen-infused treat at Southcenter's ice cream hot spot, Cloud Nine Creamery.
I wanted to find a video clip to show the kids what it would look like. Instead, up popped an FDA warning about severe damage to skin and internal organs, difficulty breathing and life-threatening injuries.
So, let’s be clear, ParentMap does not endorse eating Dragon’s Breath. It’s completely your call if you let your kids try this trendy, gimmicky dessert. Personally, I tend to err on the side of treats, so my taste-testers and I headed out to give it a try.
So, what is it?
Dragon’s Breath is basically some small crunchy balls swirled around in liquid nitrogen so they get really, really cold. When you eat one, the warmth of your mouth makes condensation billow out of your mouth and nose. And it looks like smoke.
“We have wanted to serve it since we opened, but we first had to do extensive research and development to make sure we served it as safely as possible,” wrote Cloud Nine co-owner Andrew Hagee in an email. He added that the product they use is made specifically for Cloud Nine, and it’s lighter and less dense so it doesn’t hold the liquid nitrogen inside.
Store manager Drake Dixon ran through the ground rules for us: Use the spoon, not your fingers. Hot-potato it into your mouth, and then breathe out.
That wasn’t 100 percent reassuring, but all around us, people were ordering Dragon’s Breath with camera phones ready to document the smoky results. So we dug in.
From the judges:
Philippa, age 7: “It was sorta weird.”
The kids ate it, but they were confused. This was supposed to be a treat, right?
Joseph, age 7 1/2: “It didn’t even taste like ice cream.”
Dragon’s Breath is all about the smoke effect, and my sweet-toothed panelist wasn’t impressed. It tasted like really, really cold cereal.
Paul, age 3: “It was yummy, because it had a lot of colors.”
My 3-year-old loves anything in pretty candy colors and the cereal balls come in pink, green and yellow.
The funny thing is, later that same day, we happened to be shopping at the Asian grocery store and wandered past a display of Korean crackers that looked exactly like the Dragon’s Breath balls. It was $6.99 for a bag almost as big as a toddler, so we bought it. He decided he liked the regular, room-temperature version better.
To be fair, regular Cloud Nine Creamery ice cream is decadent and delicious. They make everything to order, and it’s fun to watch the process where liquid nitrogen smoke billows out of the KitchenAid mixing bowl (not your mouth).
My thought is that Dragon’s Breath is better suited to older kids, teens and adults who will get a kick out of the smoke effect. For now, my kids would rather have something yummy than something that looks cool.
5 more gimmicky-fun desserts to try
Like I said, I err on the side of being pro-treat. Give these fun ones a try:
- At the Hi-Life in Ballard, kids can design their own cookie ($2.50) and the kitchen will bake it up for dessert. Start with a disc of egg-free cookie dough, add sprinkles and chocolate chips, and voilà! A culinary masterpiece that requires zero skill (and no mess in your kitchen). Bonus: This restaurant is located in a renovated 1911 firehouse — you still see the original firefighter’s post. How cool is that?
- Kids love Blank Space Café. A classic bubble waffle ($7.75) gets you a fresh-off-the-griddle bubble waffle hugging a scoop of ice cream. We found the service indifferent, but that combination of warm and melty was just right. Look for Asian-inspired flavors like matcha and green tea, and Pocky garnishes. Locations in Bellevue, Belltown and Green Lake. Note: the Green Lake shop is just two blocks from the paddle boat rental house and the fabulous playground outside the community center.
- It smells like old gym socks and is banned on all public transportation in Singapore. Perfect for dessert, right? Durian is a large, spiny fruit native to Malaysia and is known for its putrid stench. One of the few places you can taste it in pastry form is at Reunion Malaysian Café in Kirkland, where the (delicious? disgusting?) durian cake ($11/slice) is made of 20 precisely layered crepes.
- Mashiko Japanese Restaurant & Sushi Bar is a West Seattle gem of a sushi bar. It is famous for its sustainable seafood, but stick around for the dessert menu. The deep-fried brownie with green tea ice cream ($11) will make you throw your New Year’s resolutions out the window. We highly recommend making a reservation and snagging a seat at the bar so you can watch the chefs at work.
- Portland-based cult favorite Salt & Straw Ice Cream is known for making really wacky ice cream flavors. For Halloween, they did mealworm and pig blood flavors, and for Thanksgiving, a savory turkey ice cream. Among regular flavors, try Beecher’s Cheese With Peppercorn Toffee. For rotating flavors, imagine what they’ll come up with for President’s Day…! Find Salt & Straw scoop shops in Capitol Hill and Ballard ($4.95/scoop).
If you go for Dragon's Breath...
Hours: Cloud Nine is open daily, 10 a.m.–9 p.m.
Cost: $6.50 per serving of Dragon’s Breath
More fun at Southcenter: