It was very worth the 2 mile walk…awesome email from customer.
"I read about your ice cream on Wednesday in the Times and soon ran out to try the Coconut Key Lime. So delicious! Then I re-read the article and decided I had to try the Banana. This required something of a journey since the first place was sold out, but when I got it home and tried it, it was very worth the 2 mile walk. I think there must be some kind of magic in the container, and I have to thank you for making something so outstanding. Thank you!"
The Story Behind our Coconut Key Lime Flavor
We got some negative feedback from a customer yesterday via Twitter that went a little something like this:
"just tried coconut key lime from @phinandphebes. not enough coconut flavor and you can barely recognize the graham crumbles"
First off, we welcome feedback from customers in any form that it comes in. Sometimes we get emails, most of the time we get feedback in person when we’re doing in-store tastings every weekend. We did a lot of testing for all of our flavors and many, many prototypes but every so often we get some bad feedback. This is bound to happen as people’s taste varies greatly and sometimes customers have a preconceived notion in their head about how something should taste. It’s food after all and everyone has their own opinion.
We prefer that people email us so we can find a way to remedy the situation as opposed to calling us out on Twitter in such a negative way but hey, it’s the Internet. I’ve been compelled to call people out myself but mainly companies like Time Warner for consistent, bad service. This blog post isn’t about that though. This blog post is about some of the challenges a small company like us faces when making a food product.
When we first started making ice cream we had no idea what we were doing. We started with interesting concepts but didn’t really know how to make ice cream. For the Coconut Key Lime flavor we literally threw key lime pie into a coconut base.
Obviously this doesn’t scale and we don’t do it anymore but that’s how we got the flavor we wanted and part of how we got to where we are today.
When it came to re-prototyping our flavors so we could manufacture them on a larger scale we literally started from scratch. Many of our old flavors didn’t make the cut due to the fact that we couldn’t source certain ingredients or were just too complex to make on a larger scale. Our Rico Pico flavor (Ricotta ice cream with jalapeño infused pineapple compote) is a good example of this. The Coconut Key Lime had some challenges too. The flavor itself was fairly easy to replicate. The old flavor had graham crust chunks from the pies that we threw in and this is what we envisioned for the new flavor. However when it came time to source a graham cracker crust in became apparent that this would be harder than we thought.
There are a few main challenges any small company such as us faces:
- Minimum order quantities
- Sourcing quality, all-natural ingredients
The world is geared towards big businesses. Big business have more money and do more volume, which opens many doors. Small businesses on the other hand have a small amount of working capital and cash on hand. Many companies that make things that go into ice cream have HUGE minimum orders, ruling many vendors and ingredients out. In addition to this, ice cream products are laden with things like corn syrup and stabilizers so they can be made cheaply and marked up for profit. This was also a problem for us as our ice cream in all natural so this also ruled out many vendors and ingredients. Here’s an example of a typical graham ingredient that would be used in ice cream, bold items are things we don’t want in our ice cream:
Graham cracker (enriched flour [wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, and folic acid], whole wheat flour, sugar, hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed oils, high fructose corn syrup, molasses, honey, salt, sodium bicarbonate), soybean oil, powdered sugar (sugar, cornstarch), coconut oil, mono and diglycerides, salt and soy lecithin.
Lastly, some baked goods just do not hold up in ice cream because ice cream is full of moisture and will breakdown and make mushy certain types of baked goods. Graham crust is one of those baked goods. This is why you see things like corn syrup in graham ingredients because corn syrup is a fat that blocks moisture so the graham can maintain its integrity. If you’re a company like Ciao Bella or Häagen-Dazs you can hire a company to make you a custom ingredient but we are not those companies.
Our Coconut Key Lime flavor almost didn’t make it to market but we were able to find a graham crumb that fit the bill and we describe it as such on our packaging. It’s a crumb - not a “crumble” and not a “chunk.” Would we like to see chunks in this flavor? Absolutely. The limitations we have make this impossible for the time being though.
I bet you didn’t think ice cream was so complicated did you?
The Story Behind the Ginger Cookies in Our Ginger Cookie Snap Ice Cream
Our Ginger Cookie Snap flavor is possibly one of our most surprising flavors. Which is surprising in and of itself when you compare it to some of our other unique flavors like Vietnamese Iced Coffee, Banana Whama (banana pudding ice cream cream) and Vanilla Cinnamon. What people find surprising about it is that you can actually taste the ginger. Not like a little bit, not a hint but a lot. If there’s one thing we don’t do well, it’s subtlety. We don’t just want to make interesting ice cream flavors, we want to make flavors that literally go BOOM in your mouth. Too much?
When we started making the Ginger Cookie Snap flavor in our home kitchen we would hand bake these delicious ginger cookies with lemon frosting filling. They looked like this:
We actually cooked them so that they were soft and chewy but they still tasted like a ginger snap. The flavor was great and they were a wonderful accompaniment to that flavor of ice cream.
We now have a baker that makes this cookie in larger sheet trays and the cookie gets broken up into pieces like this:
They are still just as delicious as we use the same recipe as we used to. We keep the cookies frozen so that when they go into the ice cream they can do a good job of blocking potential moisture and in turn stay ginger “snappy” and almost crunchy.
These cookies make their way into the ice cream by going through what’s called a “fruit feeder,” which contrary to the name is not just for fruit. It’s the industry term for this type of equipment but basically is used for any “inclusion” (chunk) that goes into ice cream. The fruit feeder takes these chunks of cookie bits and grinds them up a little bit but more importantly folds it into the ice cream as it’s coming out of the batch freezer at a rate that makes it evenly distributed, like this:
We hope you enjoy our Ginger Cookie Snap! If you’d like to send us feedback, you can get in touch with us here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Just updated our “Radar” page, you’ll find us at Foodtown in Williamsburg on Saturday and Brooklyn Fare on Sunday. Get some free ice cream!