For Serendipity's Jessica Levison, ice cream is more than a scoop of chocolate or vanilla. As the owner of artisanal ice cream stores in Surfside and Wynwood, she spends most of her time in a production kitchen inventing new flavors. There have been flower-infused creams like lavender orange; coconut-based vegan varieties without refined sugars; and a steady roster of booze-charged flavors made with local brewers like J. Wakefield.
Now Levison is ready to debut her latest mashup: ice cream packed with hidden vegetables. Some of her latest flavors — chocolate and vanilla — are made with veggies like cauliflower and zucchini. Weird, right? But if you taste them, you'd never know.
"It's been a process over the last couple of years," she says. "It's taken a lot of experimentation."
The ice cream line, which is named Peekaboo, features five flavors: cotton candy with beets, strawberry with carrots,
"The vegetable is not a part of the flavor profile at all," she says. "It's supposed to be a traditional, indulgent ice cream. The idea is to get someone who won't go near a zucchini to try the vanilla flavor and realize they love it."
Levison chose mild-flavored vegetables, easy to blend and hide within rich ice cream varieties like mint chip and strawberry. "It adds vitamins and minerals into a scoop of ice cream that otherwise wouldn't be there," she says.
Hidden vegetables in ice cream is a first for the industry, making Levison's Peekaboo the first ice cream-and-veggie fusion. For now, flavors are available by the pint at Serendipity in Surfside, with plans for a big-box retail component. Different flavors will rotate at both Serendipity locations — in Wynwood and Surfside — each week too.
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"The hope is to be inside supermarkets like Whole Foods and Publix," she says. "I'm also in the process of expanding it into healthy food markets on the West Coast too."
With the increase in production, Serendipity enlisted the help of a local ice cream manufacturing company. "It would be impossible to make 10,000 pints at a time inside my production facility," she says. "But prototyping and testing will still be done in-house."
Though Peekaboo incorporates vegetables, Levison stresses that it is still traditional ice cream.
"I'm not advocating for people to eat this instead of a salad," she says. "People in the ice cream aisle want a scoop of ice cream, and that's what they'll get. But if I can make it a bit healthier with the same indulgent taste, then why not?"