Bold Flavors Driving Ice Cream Ideas

by Stephen Platt and Stephanie Sia-Brady

Star Kay White Inc. is a family-owned custom ingredient house with a history dating back to 1890. Throughout our 116 years, we have developed innovative ingredients for the ice cream industry, continually striving to maintain high product quality and excellent customer service.
We are always on a quest to stay abreast of emerging trends and looking for ways in which we can innovate. An example is our line of “textured variegates.” This has enabled our customers to add excitement by adding a very interesting textural contrast to the smooth texture of the ice cream. These products are fat-based and are guaranteed to stay crunchy throughout the shelf life of the product. Some examples of these variegates include Graham, Peanut Butter Cookie, Snickerdoodle Cookie and Sugar Cone.
One of the trends we have been following recently is in the area of chocolate. The American consumer traditionally has had a bias for milk chocolate. That has been seriously challenged and many new forms of chocolate have been popularized. Chocolates with specific and higher-percent cocoa content have gained popularity. Consumers are becoming aware of the health connection associated with the high levels of antioxidants in dark chocolate.
Of special interest to us are exotic flavor combinations not commonly seen in confections. We have been indulging ourselves by visiting some of the wonderful chocolate boutiques in New York City. Ingredients that we have seen added to chocolate include sweet Hungarian paprika, Jamaican pepper, ancho and chipotle chile powders, various teas, fennel, fruits, coconut, ginger and curry powder.
Following the trends in chocolate, we believe that maybe now is the time to introduce more complex flavors into chocolate ice cream. Our Chocolate Cinnamon Crunch features a cinnamon cookie swirl that makes the chocolate ice cream truly sinful. This flavor combination may have originated in Spain in the 1500s, and with the swirl we have developed a new twist on a traditional theme. Star Kay White has also developed a Chocolate Spice base made with cinnamon and ancho and chipotle chiles, and when this is added to chocolate mix it delivers a rich “sweet heat” profile.
Star Kay White also closely follows the ever-changing health trends. Most ice cream manufacturers have a whole range of products that fall under the “good for you” umbrella.
The big winner over the past couple of years is light ice cream. The challenge for ingredient suppliers is to offer ingredients that are consistent with this line. We have featured bases, such as our Blueberry Pomegranate, in light ice cream, which ties the positives of the high “antioxidant” fruits to the “good for you” halo. Pomegranates are gaining popularity in the United States, although the general consumer may still not be very familiar with them. The fruit is more commonplace in other parts of the world, such as the Caribbean, Latin America, the Mediterranean and Asia, and could be placed in the “ethnic” category, as well as the “healthy” category.
In conclusion, we encourage ice cream developers to paint with a bold brush when it comes to flavoring frozen desserts, and as always we would be excited to talk with you about satisfying your flavor needs.
Stephen Platt, Ph.D., is vice president of new business development and Stephanie Sia-Brady is senior product development scientist at Congers, N.Y.-based Star Kay White Inc.