Our base chocolate flavor is a milk chocolate, and it's very good, but the chocolate lovers who come to the stand continually ask me for something "more chocolatey". So at the tail end of the 2004 season, I made a batch using our standard chocolate recipe, but beefed up with some high quality cocoa, and a few other additions. We made a few batches of this, and it got such rave reviews that we decided to submit it to the National Ice Cream Retailers Association's annual "Ice Cream Clinic" -- a flavor competition among other stores like ours across the country. We were delighted when our Double Dark Chocolate was awarded a Blue Ribbon, for first place in the competition! So in 2005, Double Dark Chocolate is a menu regular. More than a regular, in fact, as when we combine its sales with the sales of our regular Chocolate flavor, they now outsell Vanilla, which is always the number one seller!
Hey, everything's better with bacon! We make this flavor whenever the maple syrup is running, as we use real, locally harvested maple syrup made for us by Turtle Lane Maple Farm here in North Andover. We cook real bacon, grind it into bits, then mix it through the ice cream. The combination of the sweet maple and the salty bacon tastes makes an interesting flavor, one that tastes a lot better than it sounds!
We've always made Maple Walnut, but I'd describe what we sold in past years as "pedestrian" -- not a heck of a lot better or worse than what most other places carry. In 2005, this is our most improved flavor. First off, we're getting the freshest walnuts you'll find from our online supplier. Secondly, friends Gary and Patty Sundberg, of Island Homemade Ice Cream in Grand Isle, Vermont, shared a gallon of their real Vermont maple syrup during a mid-season visit. This syrup is harvested by a neighbor of theirs, and is truly a cut above what you can purchase locally. Using these premium ingredients, I'm now very confident that our Vermont Maple Walnut is the best you'll find in the area. (And I can attest to that personally, as I must have eaten a couple of gallons of it myself at the tail end of the 2005 season!) 2008 Update: Our friends over at Turtle Lane Maple Farm, right here in North Andover are now supplying us with locally harvested maple syrup. The taste is just as good, but now you can also feel good about supporting another local business!
Orrick Nepomuceno, of Cosmic Ice Cream in Charlotte, NC, submitted a version of this as a "New Flavor of the Year" candidate at the National Ice Cream Retailers Association's 2004 convention. I liked the flavor so much that I asked Orrick to share his recipe. I started with this, but didn't think the flavor was quite right. So I experimented with it, and now have something that's really great. I make a killer pumpkin pie in the winter time, using a recipe passed down by my mom, so I decided to use the spices from Mom's pie recipe to flavor the ice cream. After a couple of trials, I really think this is a super recipe -- the crushed gingersnaps are the perfect complement to the spices in the base flavor. I'd have to say that this was our "rookie of the year" in terms of 2005 flavors! One night, while I was at the store, I served a couple: He got Pumpkin Gingersnap, she got Banana Pudding. Five minutes later, she was back at the window, ordering her own cone of Pumpkin Gingersnap. And five minutes after that, the both of them were back at the window, ordering a hand packed quart to take home!
This was a flavor-of-the-week favorite that I loved so much, I moved it onto our regular flavor list. This is our normal Milk Chocolate base, with thick, fudgey brownies cut up into bite sized chunks, and mixed in with big fresh walnuts. Just in case there's not enough chocolate in there, we add a thick streak of our rich marbling fudge for good measure. On mornings when I stop by the store to move ice cream tubs into the storage freezer, this is one of the flavors I'll frequently scoop a cone of to enjoy on the ride to work. (Yep, the other commuters are sipping their coffee, and I'm munching on an ice cream cone -- how did you think I keep this girlish figure? ;^)
When I bought my batch freezer, the seller gave me several cans of ice cream base flavorings, one of which was Apple. "Who the heck would ever eat Apple flavored ice cream?" I wondered, as I stashed the cans away on a shelf in the back room. It sat on the shelf unopened for two years. With the slower traffic one September, I finally decided to experiment with this, and I'm glad I did. This is a delightful flavor, with chunks of cinnamon-sweetened apple. I added a graham crumb swirl, and a few other flavor enhancements, and was very pleased with the results. Close your eyes, take a bite, and you can imagine that you're eating a big slice of apple pie a la mode. (Topped with a big scoop of our delicious Vanilla, of course!) I think this one is bound to be a regular on next year's menu board.
Several customers have asked me to make Ginger ice cream in the past year. We found a wonderful supplier for fresh ginger juice, and another for candied ginger pieces. A little experimentation with these, and we had a very flavorful tasting ice cream. I'm no expert in what good Ginger ice cream should taste like, but luckily, we have access to an expert in the father of team member Mike. He reports that we did a bang up job on it.
There's a certain flavor of ice cream whose name is trademarked by a big national flavoring company. If we use their flavor name, we're supposed to pay them royalties. So we use our own name for it. There's really not a lot of secrecy to the whole flavor, but enough customers have asked for it that we decided to come up with our own version of it. We take our rich vanilla base, mix in tons (well, "pounds", at least...) of mini peanut butter cups, then swirl in a thick streak of fudge sauce. I wasn't a big fan of this flavor, but it definitely grows on you -- I strayed off my diet over the weekend and had two dishes of this flavor!
Definitely not for the faint hearted! I love coffee flavored ice cream. When I saw that my favorite nut supply house also carried chocolate-covered roasted espresso beans, I had to try making something with them. This is a light coffee-cinnamon base, with boat loads of broken up dark-chocolate covered espresso beans. If you're a coffee lover, you'll flip over this one!
Our first trademarked flavor, and one that only a kid could come up with! (In fact, one did -- my 11 year old, David, dreamed up this one.) Here's the story: Imagine closing time at a candy store after an especially busy day. The floor is littered with pieces of various candies that have been spilled throughout the day. When you swept them up into a pile, wouldn't you have the urge to pop a handful into your mouth? (Remember, this is imaginary, and in our imaginary store, we have exceptionally clean floors... ;^) Chocolate malted ice cream, with crushed pieces of chocolate malted balls, M&M candies, chocolate chips, and Nestle's crunch bits! I was skeptical of this one, but it's actually a nice flavor, and it seems to be a hit with our customers (even the adults!)
My Uncle Bob, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, told me about this one when he was in town last year. Black walnuts are tough to find in New England, but thanks to the wonders of the Internet, we have a source now! Black Walnut has an interesting flavor, a bit more intense than the California walnuts we're used to, with a taste that's a little buttery and slightly sweet. This isn't a flavor that you often find in this part of the country, but my uncle tells me it's very popular in his area. It's sure popular at our store now, as people really seem to love this unusual taste.
We weren't sure exactly how to make this, but one rainy evening, when business was slow, we experimented with some of our premium base, a big jar of Skippy, some Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, and a bit of vanilla. Judging from the taste and the feedback from our customers, we did a pretty good job, as we've heard nothing but raves about this one! A peanut butter based ice cream, with huge chunks of crushed Reese's cups mixed in -- yum!
This recipe has evolved over the years to where we now use three different types of peanut butter cups to get just the right gallimaufry of chunks in it. One of my competitors chided me that we'd never be able to compete with their Chocolate Peanut Butter, so we now make a chocolate based version of this. I dare them to conduct a blind taste test and find anyone who doesn't think ours is superior!
A coconut base, lightly sprinkled with rich, low-temperature chocolate pieces, with a swirl of fudge. We also make a variation of this with almonds and even more chocolate chunks to create a flavor reminiscent of an Almond Joy candy bar.
This flavor surprised us -- we were given a can of the base flavor by someone we bought some equipment from, and we made it as an after thought one day at the end of our other production. Now this is one of our favorites. If you grew up in New England, and remember the "Creamsicle" bars that you used to be able to get from the ice cream trucks, then you know what this tastes like. A light orangey-pineapple taste that's very refreshing, especially when mixed in a shake or frappe.
Vanilla ice cream with chunks of strawberries and pieces of light shortcake. Hey, I don't even like cheesecake, but I love this flavor! (We also make a Blueberry version of this during blueberry picking season.)
I found some great chocolate covered caramel turtles at a trade show, and tried a couple of different recipes for using them. They were ok, but not quite right. Finally, a customer suggested "Hey, why don't you just mix those into your Vanilla Caramel flavor?" What a great idea! I did it, and now this flavor outsells the plain Vanilla Caramel. A rich vanilla base, swirled with a smooth caramel streak.
Our own interpretation of the classic Mississippi Mud -- we like to think that our mud here in stuffy old New England is a little more refined! We start with a coffee base, and add pieces of dark chocolate wafer, roasted almonds, a swirl of thick caramel, and just a hint of cinnamon. My personal favorite!
Are you a Thin Mint girl scout cookie lover? Then try this one -- it's one of our favorites. We take a premium vanilla base, and add crushed up pieces of mint cookies and a hint of mint flavor. When they're available, we make this from real Girl Scout cookies, though our supply usually runs out in mid-season, when we have to switch over to Keebler's "Grasshopper" cookies. (If you're a Girl Scout, feel free to sign us up for two boxes of cookies when you're selling them -- you can email us to deliver them, or just bring them to us in the spring when the store opens!)
I had customers asking for this since the first day we opened, and I resisted it. To me, Grapenuts cereal has the consistency of kitty litter, and I couldn't see putting that into our fine vanilla ice cream. I finally tried it and, to my surprise, it's a big seller. I can't stand it personally, but the people who like that rough Grapenuts texture rave about this one. (Note that our flavor always has an exclamation point on the end -- as I tend to yell out "Grapenuts!" as I'm making it...)
We love hearing flavor suggestions from our customers, serving staff, and friends. Each week we try to select one suggestion and take a stab at coming up with a recipe for it. Some of these come out great, while some are a little bit (ahem...) "interesting". Regardless, they're always fun to try, and we hope you'll enjoy sampling them!