Jeni's to release first-ever dairy-free ice cream

Erica Thompson
Jeni Britton Bauer

On Friday, Nov. 10, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams will roll out its first-ever dairy-free ice cream, Dark Chocolate Truffle, in all 32 scoop shops nationwide.

“There are so many people who come into our shops who can’t eat dairy or won’t eat dairy,” founder and CEO Jeni Britton Bauer said in an interview at the Short North scoop shop. “It’s been something that I’ve wanted to tackle for a long time, and I love a challenge. [But] I thought it’d be a lot easier than it was.”

Britton Bauer said she developed the recipe for at least five years. “For me, it starts out as just an idea. I work it out in my brain and try to work it out on paper … and then it goes into our test kitchen,” she explained. “[We] give it some time to age and see what happens and then adjust the recipe or throw the recipe out and start all over again.”

The major issue with the non-dairy ice cream was finding a plant-based ingredient that could “mimic the flavor and texture of cream and milk,” Britton Bauer said. Through a process of trial and error, the shop hit on a mix of coconut and fair-trade cocoa.

“The only one that has sort of a buttery-ness and the meltability of dairy cream is coconut,” she said.

Like all of Jeni’s offerings, the new treat is free of synthetic components. “I could’ve easily bought an ice cream base that was non-dairy from like 17 different places in this city … [with] 95 ingredients in it and I could’ve put any flavor I wanted to in it,” Britton Bauer said. “I just felt like it wouldn’t live up to our standards.”

Britton Bauer said another flavor, Coconut Chamomile and White Sesame, is already in the works for early next year. Any additional flavors will be based on the feedback of patrons, whom Britton Bauer hopes will try the Dark Chocolate Truffle whether they eat or dairy or not.

“We want to make ice creams that appeal to everybody,” she said.