Ice Cream Brand & Experience Design

December 2010

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Prompt

I had two weeks to develop an exhibition for "Personal Statements", a time when second year graduate students in the Stanford program formally introduce themselves to the broader community of students and alumni. 

Project

I chose to introduce myself by making liquid nitrogen ice cream. For the uninitiated, that's ice cream rapidly frozen using nitrogen that's so cold it's condensed into its liquid state. This is something I have a fair bit of experience with.

You may be wondering to yourself "why ice cream?" Ice cream has been near and dear to my heart since the very beginning (see photo below). I enjoy Liquid Nitrogen ice cream in particular not only because it's fun to make, but also because the rapid freezing makes small ice crystals that make the ice cream especially creamy.

 Ice cream has always made me a happy camper. These days I'm notably more skilled at getting ice cream into my mouth and not onto my face.

Ice cream has always made me a happy camper. These days I'm notably more skilled at getting ice cream into my mouth and not onto my face.

Methods

Cooking, Painting, Vinyl Cutting, Friend Recruiting, Liquid Nitrogen

Preparation took a couple of months of logistical work - finding out who Stanford's supplier of Liquid Nitrogen (LN2) was, creating a logo, and testing over a dozen recipes - including banana, gingerbread tea and even oddballs like surprisingly-tasty whiskey mint. The project came together in the last couple of weeks when I had a chance to build out the space and complete the finishing details.

Surprisingly, it took a couple of weeks to contact the LN2 supplier, assure them that, yes, I existed and, yes, I really did need LN2, and finally convince them to take my money. After that, I had the arduous task of testing out various recipes and flavors to find just the right combination. I settled on three – enough to have variety, limited enough to not be overwhelming. In the end, Bubble Gum (a childhood favorite), Orange Ginger (very delicious) and Maple Bacon (a surprise crowd favorite).

For the bacon ice cream recipe, I used one that came highly recommended from a friend. I recommend substituting maple syrup for some of the brown sugar. For the other two, I used a recipe from my undergraduate days. The base is straightforward to make, and absolutely delicious.

Ingredients (makes one quart):

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1½ cups milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional, depends on flavor)

For orange ginger, I flavored with 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger and 1tsp finely chopped orange zest. If you really like ginger, add it to your heart's content.

For bubble gum, I added chopped bubble gum pieces and bubble gum extract to taste. Yes, you can buy something called bubble gum extract. Isn't that crazy? I'm not sure exactly what it's extracted from, but that's what it's called.

Directions:

  • Beat milk and egg yolks together
  • Blend in sugar
  • Cook mixture over medium heat until it coats the back of a spoon. The whole pot will suddenly steam up and thicken rapidly.
  • Let the mixture cool. Do NOT skip this.
  • Add the cream, vanilla and flavorings
  • Mix well and store in something clean or put directly into an ice cream maker.
  • To freeze without an ice cream maker, store it in the freezer and take it out to stir every 20 minutes or so until it starts to resemble ice cream.