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Cold comfort

Artisanal ice cream is an irresistible summertime treat

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Recipes Featured In This Article

Caramel Sauce

This mixture is super hot and will splatter when you add the cream, so wear long gloves to...

Chocolate Sauce

Here’s an old favourite to jazz up any ice cream. The quality of the cocoa will determin...

Hazelnut Ice Cream

The hazelnut paste gives this ice cream a wonderful, nutty dimension....

Rhubarb Ginger Sorbet

Rhubarb and ginger is a combination that provides a refreshing zing. Feel free to add more...

Ditta Kasdan admits she has always been an ice cream snob. “As long as I remember, I would never eat just any ice cream,” she says. “It had to be the best.” She spent her childhood in Michigan where she was a frequent visitor to an old-fashioned ice cream parlour that made its own ice cream from scratch. Today, ice cream isn’t just for pleasure: it’s become Kasdan’s occupation. She owns and manages DeeDee’s Ice Cream, a popular year-round business near the Halifax Common. (DeeDee’s also operates at Peggy’s Cove, N.S. and at Halifax’s Historic Farmers’ Market in Keith’s Brewery in the summer.)

Ditta Kasdan owns DeeDee’s Ice Cream in Halifax. In the summertime, she churns out between 70 to 90 litres of ice cream each day, creating flavours from seasonal local fruits like rhubarb, blueberries and even Haskap berries.

Ditta Kasdan owns DeeDee’s Ice Cream in Halifax. In the summertime, she churns out between 70 to 90 litres of ice cream each day, creating flavours from seasonal local fruits like rhubarb, blueberries and even Haskap berries.

Whether it’s mango, lemon and ginger or raspberry passion fruit sorbet, Kasdan says her flavours have one thing in common: “I won’t use anything that’s not real.” She laments the quality of store-bought ice cream. “If there’s no milk in it, it’s not the real thing.” Kasdan’s favourite flavours are always changing. Mocha and caramel swirl are current picks. She’s also keen on mint chocolate chip or coffee. She finds her customers tend to gravitate towards fruit or nuts. “When people find a flavour they know and love, they stick with it,” she says. “People are fanatical about their flavours.” But many people won’t go beyond chocolate and vanilla. Vanilla is the barometer for quality ice cream, after all. “The flavour doesn’t hide anything,” she adds.

On the road, Kasdan does some serious tasting. “I am always looking for ice cream that’s better than mine.” Her travels have taken her to Paris, where she says the best ice cream is at the famous Berthillon tearoom and ice cream parlour. Argentine ice cream stands out, too: it’s dense like gelato but made with eggs. “Argentina makes ice cream most similar to mine,” she says. Kasdan makes and sells ice cream year round: about 120 litres per week in winter. In summer, she makes 70 to 90 litres a day. “You can walk down the street eating it,” she says. “There’s a whole ritual around it: the crunch of the cone. Some people are biters and some are lickers.”

While going out for ice cream may be a ritual, many Atlantic Canadians make their own at home. Donna Fitzpatrick of Tidnish, N.S. began making ice cream over 20 years ago when her daughter Andrea, then eight, was a participant in a local children’s entrepreneurship program. “I’d get the cream and I’d oversee it. She had more money than I did and I did the work,” laughs Fitzpatrick, recalling the four summers they made ice cream to sell at the weekly farmers’ market.

Fitzpatrick was hooked and continues to make ice cream at Christmas, for a summer indulgence or as a unique food gift. “It’s so much better than regular ice cream,” she says. “For me it’s richer and it tastes fresher, and you can make whatever you like; it allows you to mix it up a little. If we’re going to have a treat, I’ll make the ice cream. It’s fun.”

Two of her favourites are ginger, which was inspired by an elderly friend, and toasted coconut, a flavour she grew to love while travelling in Thailand. The basic recipe includes two raw eggs with sugar, milk, cream and vanilla, with additions for various flavours, such as strawberries, blueberries or butter pecan. Fitzpatrick recommends experimenting. She once added crumbled Oreos and another time topped off an Indian dinner with cardamom ice cream.

Cindy Cousins in Pisquid, P.E.I. has been making ice cream for her own family ever since her husband bought her an old-fashioned hand-cranked machine for Christmas 27 years ago. “We still laugh about it, as he’s the one who loves ice cream,” she says. They began with his grandmother’s original vanilla recipe, which called for canned milk. They have tried variations over the years, including fruits and grape nut, her father-in-law’s favourite. “If your homemade ice cream turns out well, it’s a lovely creamy texture,” she says.

Cousins and her family made a batch during a snowstorm this winter. “The best part is the fun to do it as a family,” she says. “It’s something you typically do out on the back doorstep.” She continually adds ice and salt to keep the bucket cold as she mixes the ice cream in the traditional way. “I suppose in some ways it’s healthier but some recipes have a litre of whipping cream,” she laughs. But who worries about healthy when it comes to ice cream? At DeeDee’s, Kasdan shares her own philosophy: “Ice cream might not be good for us, but stress is worse. Don’t eat too much; it’s a special treat to enjoy.” Wise words to remember during our favourite ice cream-eating season.

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