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North Hills Monthly

Ice Cream Flavors Expand to Meet Customers’ Tastes

Jun 30, 2018 11:47AM ● By Hilary Daninhirsch

Sugar Spell Scoops, Sharpsburg

Remember when the only options for ice cream were vanilla, chocolate and strawberry? Ice cream has come a long way over the past several years, with many new flavors and concepts available. When that hankering for ice cream hits—as it undoubtedly will this summer—North Hills’ residents do not have far to venture.

Brusters, McCandless

Boston Cream Pie, Red Velvet Cake, and Southern Banana Pudding may sound like decadent desserts, but they are just several of the 150 ice cream flavors that Bruster’s Ice Cream has in its rotation. Each day, the Ingomar Road location in McCandless has 25 or more flavors on its menu, including 14 core flavors that are offered daily. The most popular flavor overall, according to General Manager Mary Mann, is Chocolate Raspberry Truffle. 

Despite all of these flavor offerings, every so often all a customer wants is delectable vanilla, proving that sometimes, people choose tried-and-true over new-and-exciting.

Like their popular waffle cones, ice cream is made fresh daily on-site. “In the summer, we can make up to 30 batches of ice cream in one day,” said Mann, adding that their ice cream is preservative-free. 

Brusters is always experimenting with new flavors, and often features a seasonal theme. This summer’s focus is on candy, such as June’s feature flavor: Pucker Up with Nerds, a lemon-based ice cream with sour blue raspberry and sour cherry variegate, with Nerds added in. Brusters also makes ice cream cakes, perfect for any occasion, and offers catering.

The McCandless location, which has outdoor seating, is also the perfect place to bring your dog—spoiled canines are treated to a complimentary kiddie cup of vanilla ice cream topped with waffle cone pieces.

Sugar Spell Scoops, Sharpsburg

Opening this summer in Sharpsburg, Sugar Spell Scoops will offer something unique: vegan ice cream. Substituting cashew milk for dairy, the ice cream will nevertheless taste like the real thing, said owner Amanda Burk.

“This product appeals to everyone, vegan or not,” she said.

A variety of nuts can be turned into milk by soaking and straining them, but Burk said that cashew nuts are the easiest to work with as they do not need to be strained after soaking, and can simply be blended with water. 

Burk has been selling her ice cream products at Naturally Soergel’s and at a few pop-up locations, and she had such positive feedback that she thought it was time to go the brick-and-mortar route. When the new shop opens, she will begin with four rotating flavors, including peanut butter cup, rainbow vanilla and strawberry cheesecake. 

“We like to make over-the-top and fun flavors, with more whimsical types of things,” said Burk. “That will become more regular once we have the store going.”

As for the unusual moniker, Burk explained that sugar spells are used in magic to bring happiness. “If you’re in a fight with someone, you put their picture in sugar, and in the end, it’s about bringing resolution and happiness,” she explained. “Where better than an ice cream place to bring happiness?” 

NatuRoll Creamery, Cranberry

Just when you thought ice cream could not possibly get more creative, along comes rolled ice cream, which is as fun as it sounds. 

Rolled ice cream is based on a technique that originated in Thailand and has been perfected at NatuRoll Creamery.

“You start with a freezing cold metal surface that is powered by Freon, and add locally sourced ice cream batter to the pan,” explained Manager Mary Wattick. When the batter is poured, it freezes.

“Once it is cold, we flatten it, add a sauce and top it with everything from fresh fruit to cookies to chocolate shavings,” continued Wattick, adding that she once had a customer who opted for 10 different mix-ins.

Customers love to watch the ice cream being made in front of their eyes, which adds to the appeal. They can choose from eight ice cream bases, including chocolate, strawberry, or chai, and then add toppings. The menu currently features 12 enticing options, such as Monkey Business (fresh banana with Nutella, peanut butter or caramel), and S’mores (graham crackers with dark chocolate shavings and dark chocolate sauce, topped by a marshmallow that is toasted campfire-style). The creamery also has four rotating monthly specials.

The process yields five or six rolls of ice cream, which equals about a pint’s worth. “It is the freshest way to consume ice cream,” said Wattick.

Churn, Gibsonia and Cranberry

When you can’t find what you’re looking for, do it yourself. Owner Kelley Costa opened her ice cream and coffee shop because she wanted something different.

“I’m a person who loves variety. I love ice cream, and I see the same things all the time,” she explained. 

Using her accounting background to mix some numbers, she figured out how to combine ingredients to make the creamiest of concoctions. Churn’s ice cream is made fresh, in-house, every day. Costa offers 24 core flavors per day, but those who follow Churn on social media know that there are often bonus flavors available that are not listed on the board.

Costa constantly pushes the envelope. “We’ll turn anything into ice cream,” she said.  And she has, creating such flavors as strawberry jalapeno, ketchup, lavender honey, and ginger lemon. 

No worries, though—she accommodates more “basic” taste buds, with her core flavors, which vary by location. In Gibsonia, Oreo is the most popular, while in Cranberry, that honor belongs to cake batter. She’s made a total of 500 flavors since she started; overall, black raspberry has been a consistent bestseller.

Despite all of the flavor options and mix-ins, Costa said that at least once a day, people come in to the shop and request vanilla, with the mindset that they cannot judge the rest of her ice cream variety without first sampling that flavor.

Graeter’s, Wexford

An import from Ohio, Graeter’s arrived in Wexford two summers ago. Soon, a Graeter’s food truck will be driving around the area.

The family-owned company has been in business since 1870 with a formula that has stood the test of time. What makes Graeter’s stand out is their process—ice cream is handcrafted via a French Pot: ingredients are pasteurized and combined in a flavor vat, one pot at a time. During the process, cream freezes to the side, which is then scraped back into the middle of the vat.

District Manager Matthew Howell explained that because this process filters out as much air as possible, it yields a denser and creamier flavor than traditional ice cream.

“We have a core of about 24 or 25 flavors all the time, and sometimes we’ll offer two or three seasonal or bonus flavors,” he said.

Graeter’s is known for their chocolate chip ice cream. “We pour the chocolate on top of the batch when it is done and use the blade to break it up. It gives it almost a fudge-like consistency that melts in your mouth,” Howell said, adding that black raspberry chip is a consistent bestseller. 

Graeter’s has also produced some unique flavors, including Chunky Chunky Hippo—toffee ice cream with salted roasted peanuts and milk chocolate caramel truffles—to celebrate the birth of a baby hippo at the Cincinnati Zoo.