While working for a local chocolatier, Ashlee Olds discovered two very important things about herself: She wanted to start her own business, and she wanted that business to involve ice cream. Lucky for her, many of her friends claimed that her kitchen produced the best ice cream they had ever had, and so, in January of this year, Sweet Science Ice Cream was born.
The “sweet” piece of Sweet Science is evident, but what makes this artisan ice cream unique is the “science” component that Olds brings to the table. She took classes in Food Science at the University of Minnesota to understand how to create the perfect texture without compromising her ingredients. Avoiding emulsifiers and stabilizers can often result in textural disasters, but Olds’ education paid off, and the result is one of the most decadent ice creams in town.
Sweet Science focuses on flavors that are “elegant.” You won’t find any cookie dough or M&M’s in this ice cream: “If you want a candy bar, go buy a candy bar,” Olds says. Instead, she uses handmade oat streusel, fresh berry sauces and jams, and caramelized and roasted bananas. Her ingredients are locally sourced whenever possible, often gluten free, and never artificial.
A pint of Sweet Science ice cream starts with fresh milk and cream from Castle Rock Organic Farms in Osseo, WI, creating an ultra creamy base for unique and complex flavors. Those familiar with Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams (see our brief review of Jeni’s here), will recognize many of Sweet Science’s flavors as skillful clones of the Columbus, OH, ice cream maker; Olds’ Sweet Corn and Blueberry, Pear Riesling, Strawberry Buttermilk, and Berry Crumble are almost as good as the originals, and her Salted Caramel is even better.
Not surprisingly, her most popular pint is Salted Caramel, the red velvet cupcake of the ice cream world, the flavor that has found its home in every ice cream retailer across the country. Sweet Science’s take on this favorite needs to be eaten slowly, savored, in order to capture the full depth of complexity: sweet notes of lightly caramelized sugar, lighter than what you might be used to, and vanilla that fade into salty finish.
Other highlights include the Caramel Apple Cider Crisp, apple cider-flavored ice cream chock-full of homemade streusel and swirls of caramel, and the Cranberry Grapefruit Sorbet, vibrantly red, deliciously tart, and so creamy you will almost forget that it’s a sorbet.
Perhaps the most successful flavor is the Berry Crumble (above), generous chunks of oat streusel, layered with blackberry and raspberry jam in a creamy vanilla base. The tartness of the thick jam perfectly balances the sweetness of the vanilla, and the streusel takes it to textural perfection. When you can’t decide between ice cream and pie for dessert, reach for this to hit both cravings with a single bite. Coming in close second is the Sweet Corn and Blueberry that screams summer — a milky sweet corn base swirled with a chunky blueberry sauce.
The only disappointing flavor we tried was the Olive Oil. The texture was slightly icy, and the ice cream needed a fruitier olive oil and a generous pinch of salt to make it work.
Currently, pints of Sweet Science are only available from their commercial kitchen in St. Paul on Thursdays from 7-9pm, and during their monthly tastings, where you can sample all available flavors before you commit to a pint (visit their Facebook page for details on tasting events). At $9 a pop, the ice cream isn’t cheap, but it’s well worth it given the quality of the ingredients… plus, after just a single bite, you’ll quickly forget the price.
Sweet Science will join The Heavy Table and the Sustainable Farming Association at the Crow River Winery on Dec. 9 for North Coast Nosh VII.
Sweet Science Ice Cream
Ice Cream in St. Paul
955 Mackubin St
St. Paul, MN 55113
For Pint Sales Only
OWNER: Ashlee Olds
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN:Yes / Yes