Ice cream made from scratch heating up in NYC

Ice cream being made in the back of
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Ice cream being made in the back of the store at Ample Hills Creamery in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, Wednesday, May 7, 2014. Ample Hills makes their ice cream in house and will be opening a new store in Gowanus in June.(Credit: Linda Rosier)

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When it comes to ice cream in New York City, handmade is hot.

Throughout the past few years, several shops in the city have embraced the practice of making the treat from scratch, just steps from the counter.

Customers are taking notice, too. Erika Guzman said she's not a huge ice cream fan, but all bets are off when it comes to Ample Hills Creamery in Prospect Heights.

"I do not buy ice cream from the supermarkets mass-produced," said Guzman, who works as a training facility manager near the parlor. "Just the quality of the ingredients, it's so bland, it's so blah. And they're not as creative with their flavors like they are here... It's just so good, it's sinful."

She's not alone. This often painstaking process has become so popular that several shops are expanding, just in time for summer.

So when you crave your next creamy scoop, check out these shops who do all the hard work on the premises.

Ample Hills Creamery

623 Vanderbilt Ave., Prospect Heights, 347-240-3926; 305 Nevins St., Gowanus (opening June); kiosks at Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 1, 5 and carousel; amplehills.com

When Brian Smith opened his Prospect Heights shop three years ago, he vowed to make everything from scratch from "beginning to middle to end."

"I think that it's important that people experience the narrative of how ice cream gets made," said Smith, who is expanding his parlor to Gowanus later this month. "People, I think, gravitated and responded to the authenticity of that experience, of standing in line and seeing us make the ice cream that they were eating."

Now customers line up for the labor-intensive flavors like The Munchies, in which he steeps pretzels in milk and strains for pretzel-flavored ice cream.

Smith develops his flavors on a week-to-week basis and is currently thinking about a Brooklyn Blackout Cake and a partnership with Liddabit Sweets and their bitter/salty/sweet beer and pretzel caramels.

"I'll wake up at three in the morning with an idea and scribble it down and we come in and we make it," said Smith, who makes most of the mix-ins used in the ice cream from hand, too.

Davey's Ice Cream

137 First Ave., 212-228-8032, daveysicecream.com

David Yoo started as a graphic designer and dabbled in high fashion advertising for about 10 years until he decided to give it all up to make ice cream. He's going into his first summer serving his homemade ice cream after opening his East Village shop last September.

"The only way to make that idea work is to do it this way, which is make it completely from scratch the hard way," said Yoo. "It's full control. It's really yours, you're making something."

Each day his crew of three does all the prep for one flavor, which will take three to four days to make from start to finish and will result in more than 30 gallons of ice cream.

Yoo likes bold flavors. Just take his Strong Coffee. About 10 pounds of coffee beans go into a single batch of the super-caffeinated flavor sure to give anyone a buzz.

"It's definitely stronger than a cup of coffee," he said. "You can feel it, it's like woah."

The Chocolate Room

269 Court St., 718-246-2600, Cobble Hill; 51 Fifth Ave., Park Slope (opening this summer), thechocolateroombrooklyn.com

The first weekend Jon Payson opened his Brooklyn dessert shop he didn't have any ice cream. The machine he bought at an auction malfunctioned and it all came out over-churned -- like very sweet butter. He quickly worked to fix it because selling ice cream that he didn't make was never an option.

Today, all of his ice cream is made in-house on portable convection stovetops in a light-flooded kitchen no bigger than a walk-in closet.

"Especially if you're in Brooklyn, the number one question seems to be...'Is this made here?'" said Payson, who is opening a second Chocolate Room in Park Slope this summer. "That's kind of our credo: made in house...I just think it makes it more special."

Morgenstern's Finest Ice Cream

2 Rivington St., 212-209-7684, morgensternsnyc.com

Nicholas Morgenstern's old-fashioned parlor is the newest kid on the block after opening late last month. But his extensive restaurant experience and love of the frozen treat helped him turn his idea into reality.

Morgenstern makes more than 30 flavors, most of which are eggless and low in sugar and butterfat, all in very small batches.

"I was a pastry chef for a long time so I love making ice cream, that's what I wanted to do," he said. "I wanted a parlor."

And making the ice cream from a mix or even off-site was never an option.

"This is a one-of-a-kind place, it's a one-of-a-kind experience," Morgenstern said. "And it hinges on everything being made right here in very small quantities. There's no question that the quality speaks for itself."

OddFellows Ice Cream Co.

175 Kent Ave., Williamsburg, 347-599-0556; NEW: 75 E. Fourth St., oddfellowsnyc.com

At OddFellows , Loretta the ice cream maker and Patsy the pasteurizer (named after the country singers) are used every day to churn out seasonal, made-from-scratch flavors.

Co-Owner Mohan Kumar said cornbread, buttermilk honey blueberry and s'mores are all flavors that customers are asking for this summer. Seasonal fruits and strawberries from the Union Square Greenmarket are also popular items on their menu, he said.

"So many people come in and say how fresh our ice cream tastes," said Kumar. "That's a product of the fantastic dairy that we use, as well as the ingredients, and then also that it's made here and it's gone within two or three days after we make it."

Since opening last June, Oddfellows has created more than 100 flavors. You can try 12 to 14 flavors at all times at the flagship Williamsburg location, and eight in the new East Village outpost.

LOCAL INGREDIENTS

Not only are these creameries making the ice cream on premises, they are sourcing their ingredients locally. Here's a look at what goes into making a few of the creative flavors:

Ample Hills Creamery' Sweet As Honey ice cream: Bees at the Queens County Farm supply the honey for the homemade honeycomb candy.

Davey's Ice Cream's Brunch Scoop ice cream: The brioche French toast in this flavor comes from Balthazar Bakery.

The Chocolate Room's Coffee ice cream: This flavor is made with a Mocha Java blend from Brooklyn Roasting Company.

Morgenstern's Finest Ice Cream's American Egg ice cream: Eggs from Feather Ridge Farm in Elizaville, New York, help create this silky egg custard.

OddFellows Ice Cream Co.'s Strawberry ice cream: The strawberries are picked up at the Union Square Greenmarket.

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