The first eight years I made ice cream, I rarely added chunks of cookies or candies. The whole big chunk thing had already been done. The whole reason I fell in love with ice cream was because I could use it to carry scent. So I focused on making single-note ice creams. Ice creams with top, middle, and base notes, or what I called synergies—those that have several ingredients that all work together to become like a symphony (like our Bangkok Peanut with roasted peanuts, Ohio honey, toasted coconut, and cayenne pepper, if you remember that. And, yes, we’re bringing it back soon!).
All the ice creams we were making were pretty much smooth or had a little bit of texture. And these ice creams are elegant on a cone, but also work really well as pairings. When placed next to a cake, pie, or poached fruit, ice cream can change the tone of a dessert. It’s like a great scarf—an accessory that can pull an outfit together.
At some point I found ice creams alone don’t win dessert competitions. The prize always goes to the most decadent cheesecake or brownie or trifle. It was then that I understood that ice cream is a beloved dessert, almost to the point of being taken for granted. Once I accepted that I dove straight into making ice creams that are not the headliner per se, but the adoring wingman.
Our ice creams are made to melt beautifully and to release scent while you’re eating them.
Say you have a big slice of warm apple pie from Sassafras Bakery (a favorite Columbus pie maker of mine) with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. That’s very good, especially if it’s Ndali Vanilla and made to melt perfectly into that pie. But, the same apple pie with a scoop of coriander ice cream on it—that’s a conversation starter. Or a salted honey pie with ylang ylang ice cream. Now there’s added interest. The ice cream hasn’t overshadowed the pie; it’s simply the perfect complement.
In the early days I made ice creams in the standard way, with gums and emulsifiers, as I was getting my footing in the business. It wasn’t a choice. They simply didn’t work yet any other way for me. In addition to having a distinct cotton candy-like flavor and preventing ice creams from melting cleanly, stabilizers also increase whippability—meaning a lot more air gets whipped in by design. I have no fundamental problem with most stabilizers other than how they perform—many are naturally derived.
But slowly, my focus shifted away from simply flavor to body and texture. We’ve worked hard to get this right because the idea of how it melts is something ice cream makers don’t think enough about. We’re not talking survival and shelf stability. We’re talking the experience on the plate—on the pie.
Our ice creams—the air structure, the ice cream structure, every ingredient in there—are made to melt perfectly while you’re eating them. Our ice creams have a little bit of tapioca starch in them to thicken them, to add a bit of body. But it does not provide much stability. If our ice creams melt, they cannot be refrozen!
The point I’m meandering toward is that it means our ice creams are made for desserts like pie. They’ve got this really great buttercream texture that melts thinly without an artificial aftertaste. It’s more than just great flavors that pair well with pies; it’s the body and texture. Our ice creams are made to melt beautifully and to release scent while you’re eating it. (Check out our Pairings Collection for some of our favorite ice creams to match with desserts.)
Around here when we are creating ice creams we like to say “only one ice cream”—meaning we are trying to make the only ice cream that is made to melt perfectly into a dessert or complement its flavor. Like, “There is only one ice cream for that incredible apple pie or blackberry crisp.” Or, “Hey, you picked those peaches, poached them in rose, and there is only one ice cream that lives up to that.” You know whose it is.
Tomorrow, we’re partnering with Brooklyn bakery Four & Twenty Blackbirds for a pie pop-up at our Los Feliz shop. If you can’t wait that long (or can’t make it out to LA), you’re in luck. Bakery owners Melissa and Emily Elsen share the recipe for their Strawberry Kaffir Lime pie. Up your pie game by pairing it with Sweet Cream ice cream.
Strawberry Kaffir Lime Pie
Makes one 9-inch pie. Serves 8 to 10.
- Pie Dough for a 9-inch double-crust pie (see recipe below)
- 4 to 6 cups strawberries, rinsed and quartered, (about 2 lbs)
- 3 tablespoons +¼ cup granulated sugar, divided
- ½ cup brown sugar, packed
- 3 medium kaffir lime leaves, torn in half
- 4 tablespoons ground arrowroot
- 1 small baking apple (such as Northern Spy or Golden Delicious)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Egg wash (one large egg whisked with 1 teaspoon water and a pinch salt)
- Demerara sugar, for finishing
Have ready and refrigerated one pastry lined 9-inch pie pan and pastry round or lattice to top.
Sprinkle the 3 tablespoons granulated sugar over the quartered strawberries. Toss gently, then allow them to macerate at room temperature for one hour.
In a small food processor or blender, combine the remaining granulated sugar, brown sugar and kaffir lime leaves and process until the majority of the leaves are broken down into small pieces, roughly the size of chili flakes. This will take several minutes. If there are any large fibrous pieces remaining, remove them. Add the ground arrowroot and pulse to combine.
Peel the apple and shred on the large holes of a box grater. Drain and discard the excess liquid from macerating strawberries. Combine the strawberries with the shredded apple, lemon juice, and kaffir lime sugar mixture and gently fold to incorporate.
Pour the filling into the refrigerated pie shell, arrange lattice or pastry round on top and crimp as desired
Chill the pie in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes to set the pastry. Meanwhile position the oven racks to the bottom and center positions and preheat to 425°F.
Brush pastry with the egg wash and sprinkle with desired amount of demerara sugar. Place pie on a rimmed baking sheet and place on lowest rack of oven. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until pastry is set and beginning to brown.
Lower oven heat to 375°F, move the pie to the center oven rack and continue to bake until pastry is a deep golden brown and juices are bubbling throughout, 35 to 40 minutes longer.
Allow to cool completely on a wire rack, 2 to 3 hours. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. Pie will keep refrigerated for 3 days, or 2 days at room temperature.
Four & Twenty Blackbirds All Butter Crust
Makes dough for one double-crust 9- to 10-inch pie or tart 2½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- ½ pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces 1 cup cold water
- ¼ cup cider vinegar
- 1 cup ice
Stir the flour, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the butter pieces and coat with the flour mixture using a bench scraper or spatula.
With a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture, working quickly until mostly pea-size pieces of butter remain (a few larger pieces are okay; be careful not to overblend).
Combine the water, cider vinegar, and ice in a small bowl. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the ice water mixture over the flour mixture, and mix and cut it in with a bench scraper or spatula until it is fully incorporated. Add more of the ice water mixture, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, and mix until the dough comes together in a ball, with some dry bits remaining.
Squeeze and pinch with your fingertips to bring all the dough together, sprinkling dry bits with more small drops of the ice water mixture, if necessary, to combine. Shape the dough into a flat disc, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight, to give the crust time to mellow.
Wrapped tightly, the dough can be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for 1 month.