I make my own ice cream a lot.
It's fun to experiment with making fun flavors that are hard to find in a store (ahem, black sesame, olive oil, avocado, and hobnobs). I also like just making my favorite flavors, tweaking them a bit to my liking (heh, like adding extra grape nuts to my grape nut ice cream).
The best part, however, is that nothing beats homemade ice cream. That fresh cream flavor that you get in homemade ice cream is hard to replicate in commercial ice creams.
It's dangerous, though.
When I have a batch of homemade grape nut ice cream at home, I just can't help but eat a bowl of it every single day. Not so good for the long term, really.
A little over a month ago, Boston based ice cream maker, Batch, discovered my love of ice cream and offered to send me some ice cream to try.
I was tempted to tell them to send me every single flavor, but then I thought they might think I was a bit crazy (and really, shouldn't I have learned my lesson since last summer, when I had 64 pints of ice cream delivered to me doorstep?).
So I tried to hold back, just requesting a few flavors: matcha (since I just love that stuff), vanilla (yes, I'm boring, what can I say), chocolate (the gold standard), and salt caramel (one of their most popular flavors).
Batch was founded on the principle of making ice cream from only "real ingredients and no weird stuff." They further explain that this means they don't use anything "with a crazy name, like xantham gum or carrageenan."
As a chemist by training, this fear by consumers of "chemical" - sounding names has always seemed a bit misguided to me. Just because something is made in a laboratory doesn't mean it's bad for you. Likewise, lots of things found in nature can be quite toxic as well.
However at the same time, I can understand people's wariness of man-made ingredients. These "chemicals" arguably haven't been tested for nearly as long as, say, food that people have been eating for centuries.
But back to ice cream . . .
I do know from experience that homemade ice cream tastes fantastic, and there's certainly reason to believe that when you only use "real" ingredients you are undoubtedly going to get a better tasting product. In my personal experience, almost never in history has an artificial flavor actually tasted better than the original thing.
As a business, Batch goes beyond just avoiding artificial ingredients. They also aim to source fair trade and local ingredients when possible.
Well, I knew the best way to test this all.
My parents just so happened to be staying with me when I received the pints of ice cream from Batch. My dad, who loves ice cream at least as much as I do, would be the perfect judge.
They loved it. My mom could tell straight away that this was really high quality ice cream - much better than the stuff they typically get at the supermarket. My dad loved the matcha one the most.
"It's not too sweet, and it's very xiang (fragrant)."
He actually went back for seconds soon after finishing his first bowl.
Batch ice cream is good and reminds me more of homemade ice cream.
The flavors taste very natural and real. Because the ice cream does not use any stabilizers (e.g., xantham gum, guar gum, carob bean gum), the texture is a bit icier and less creamy than most other ice creams. One exception would be the salt caramel, which seems a lot creamier (maybe due to the swirled in caramel?).
I personally loved the matcha flavor the best. It's got a nice, strong green tea flavor and it's not too sweet. The chocolate is beautiful - deep, dark, yet not at all too sweet. The salt caramel is one of the most popular flavors. My parents thought it was way too sweet. It's definitely much sweeter than the matcha and the chocolate, since it's filled with gooey swirls (and occasional chunks) of salt caramel. I can take it in small doses (it has a nice flavor!), but I agree it's a tad sweeter than I prefer. The vanilla is nice, clean, and simple. It's not my favorite vanilla ice cream on the market (jury's still out on that one), but it's perfectly enjoyable.
They have one food truck, which currently only appears at festivals and special events. If you want access to the ice cream on a more regular basis, you can buy the pints at supermarkets and specialty stores around New England (e.g., Whole Foods, Shaw's, Stop & Shop, Formaggio's, and Savenor's).
Batch was kind enough to offer free scoops of ice cream from the truck to TWENTY Tiny Urban Kitchen readers.
That's a lot of winners!
To enter, please submit a comment below telling me your favorite ice cream flavor(s). I will pick 20 winners at random and will email you an electronic copy of the coupon, which you can redeem at the Batch Ice Cream truck at one of the events shown below:
Aug. 8, 2013 - BostonFest, Seaport World Trade Center, Boston
August 25, 2013 -Red Bull Cliff Diving, Boston (ICA museum)
Sept 7, 2013 - JP Music Fest, Jamaica Plain
Sept 8, 2013 – Food Truck Festival, Natick
Giveaway ends Tuesday August 6th at midnight EST.
Just for fun, my favorite flavors are vanilla (yes, I'm boring, but you can't beat a good vanilla), grape nut, and cookies & cream. I do have a soft spot for burnt sugar as well.
Disclaimer - I received the ice cream compliments of Batch Ice Cream. They are also providing the free scoops for the giveaway. All opinions are my own.
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