Metro, Food

Honeycomb Creamery Leaves Customers Wanting More

Ice cream lovers often develop a natural tendency to gravitate toward familiar but easy-to-eat flavors (hello there, vanilla, chocolate, and cookie dough) that allow them to quickly devour bowls and pints of the comforting treat at a time. What once was a craving for ice cream and all of the nuance it contains devolves into a simple desire for sugar, no matter what form it takes. Even the most devoted ice cream lovers among us forget all too easily the artistry that a single scoop of ice cream could—and should—contain.

Thankfully, one of the newest additions to the Cambridge restaurant scene is here to remind eaters of just that.

Honeycomb Creamery, which opened its first storefront a little over a month ago on Sept. 26, has already grabbed the attention of Boston’s culinary community with shocking and exquisite flavors that encompass everything from sweeter ones, like Brown Sugar Vanilla Bean or Maple Coffee, to more savory choices, like the seasonal Red Kuri + Sage.

And although Honeycomb Creamery was born in 2015, when the husband-and-wife team of Kirsten Rummel and Rory Hanlon brought its inventive ice cream flavors to farmers’ markets around the Boston area, the original seed of the idea that resulted in the desire to bring such electric flavors to Boston’s ice cream community can be traced back even further.  

After moving to Boston with Hanlon in 2011, Rummel decided to depart from her training as a Spanish medical translator and began working at Clear Flour Bread in Brookline. Hoping to grow and develop pastry skills of her own during the employment, Rummel decided to attend the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts, where she studied pastry and quickly found work at the popular Union Square Donuts.

As Rummel worked as a kitchen manager and learned the details of running a small business, she explored potential businesses ideas of her own, finally unearthing the one that would become Honeycomb Creamery after tasting a corn ice cream while out at dinner one night.

“I remember talking with my husband and talking about how you can go to all of these nice, sit-down restaurants and get fancy ice creams—like corn ice cream or bay leaf ice cream—but if you go to an ice cream shop, you can’t really get anything that’s a little bit more unique,” Rummel said. “You get vanilla, chocolate, coffee, strawberry, and that’s it. But it’s very possible to do different flavors, you just need to put a little bit more effort into your flavoring. So after that, it kind of started to slowly build.”

Following a few months of working out of commissary kitchens, Rummel nailed down a storefront, which she carefully designed with a lighthearted hand. With its cheerful pops of raspberry pink, and the warm glow from countless edison bulbs dangling from the ceiling, the store’s whimsical appearance does not mislead customers who enter. Each flavor on the menu board—there are between 12 and 14 available each day—contains that same exceptional sense.

In addition to the five classic flavors (Dark Dark Chocolate, Brown Sugar Vanilla Bean, Maple Coffee, Salty Honey, and Honeycomb) that serve as the Honeycomb Creamery’s spin on more traditional and dessert-like ice cream flavors, Rummel has also created a selection of vegan flavors based on coconut and cashew milk that provide those with dietary restrictions options beyond sorbets.

But regardless of the dairy content, Rummel works to develop unique flavors that have included everything from Sweet Corn with Blackberry Jam and Apple Cider Donut with a Caramel Swirl, to savory Basil Goat Cheese and the current Red Kuri + Sage—a fresh spin on the popular fall squash flavor.

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Rummel looks to the everyday for her inspiration, explaining how her homemade ice cream base—which she pasteurizes herself—allows her to take the ice cream in any direction she can dream.

“If you can think of a really great dessert that you like, or foods that you enjoy together, it could probably go really well in an ice cream,” Rummel said.

Although you might not eat more savory ice creams the same way that you would approach a sweeter option, Rummel explains the importance of approaching the ice cream as flavor pairings and an exploration of the palate. For example, instead of eating Red Kuri + Sage on its own, she suggests pairing it with the Salty Honey, or even taking it home to include as a component to a dinner party.

But the flavors are not the only element that distinguish Honeycomb Creamery’s ice cream. Rummel works hard to source the ingredients locally. The milk and cream come from the Massachusetts Maple Line Farm, and the fruits and vegetables come from the local Kimble Food Farm. She also aims to highlight other hard-working small businesses in the Boston area by using Tazo chocolate for her chocolate flavors and donuts from Union Square Donuts in flavors like her Apple Cider and Caramel ice cream.

Rummel’s careful attention to detail is also evident in the little things, like the cones and toppings. The toppings, which include alluring choices like white wine gummy bears and shards of signature Honeycomb candy—a crunchy, hole-filled cross between a meringue and a caramel that also serves as the basis for one of its most popular flavors—are all made by hand and from scratch. This includes its sea salt, which it makes by harvesting saltwater and boiling it down. The handmade cones, which currently come in either vanilla or chocolate, are almost a dessert on their own. Perfectly crunchy and filled with a buttery and subtle flavor, they elevate any flavor of ice cream.

After a warm reception from the Cambridge community, Rummel is eager to continue flexing her creative muscles and help customers reimagine what ice cream can be.

“People have a really strong opinion of what ice cream should be and a lot of preconceived notions about ice cream, but I tend to let those go, and kind of do [whatever I want],” Rummel said.   

Featured Image by Madeleine D’Angelo / Heights Editor

November 3, 2016

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