Handmade ice cream at Sweet Cream in Medford
For ice cream lovers, summer may be measured by how much of the sweet treat they can eat. For Sweet Cream’s Kayla Barton, summer is all about how much ice cream she can make.
Barton essentially doubled her demand for handcrafted ice cream with the June opening of a bricks-and-mortar location for Sweet Cream, formerly a food truck. The little “scoop shop” on downtown Medford’s Theater Alley is a sweet destination, indeed. High ceilings, brick walls and terracotta floors are almost as enticing in the Rogue Valley’s recent heat wave as Sweet Cream’s cool lineup of frozen desserts.
Barton’s signature flavors — chocolate, vanilla bean, coffee and lavender-lemon zest — are menu mainstays. Four other flavors rotate in monthly. August appropriately features strawberry shortcake, pineapple-coconut, s’mores and honeydew sorbet, a vegan and dairy-free option. A Medford native, Barton says she uses organic and locally grown ingredients as often as possible.
Each Sweet Cream batch starts from scratch. Whereas many small-scale ice cream operations purchase a pre-made base to customize with myriad flavors, Barton makes her own base, which yields about 15 to 30 quarts of each flavor weekly. Each is mixed by hand, and waffle cones are made fresh to order.
Prices are $3.50 for a single scoop, $4.50 for a double, $2.50 for a kids’ portion and 50 cents extra for a waffle cone. Take home a pint of ice cream for $7, a quart for $14. Ice-cream sandwiches — chocolate chip cookies with vanilla bean, brown sugar cookies with coffee and sugar cookies with lavender-lemon zest — can be had for $4.50 apiece.
Much as I love lavender paired with lemon, I knew from last summer’s introduction to Sweet Cream that neither flavor was as prominent as I had hoped. Ambivalent to chocolate, I could have chosen the coffee, despite its inclusion of dark cocoa, but skipped down the chalkboard menu to the month’s specials.
A lifelong fan of sorbet, I was intrigued by Sweet Cream’s honeydew version enough to order a scoop in defiance of my typical aversion to melon. I also resisted my impulse for pineapple-coconut and selected the s’mores as my second scoop.
The first bite of Sweet Cream’s s’mores tasted neither of its chocolate chips nor its vanilla base but rather a hint of smokiness that suggested summer evenings roasting marshmallows over a campfire. I assumed that a smoked salt was behind such an indispensable element of s’mores preparation. But Barton assured me that it was only the power of suggestion. Regardless, I’d highly recommend the s’mores with its chewy, little marshmallow morsels.
The sorbet, by contrast, lacked the mouth feel that I crave. Although it was strong on refreshing melon flavor, the consistency was more like a granita, crumbly and crunchy, rather than the smooth and silky texture I expect. I much preferred Sweet Cream’s watermelon-mint sorbet featured last summer.
Sweet Cream’s mobile unit, which served customers last summer since its Pear Blossom debut, is still on the road for special events and by request. A vendor at the recent Barnstormer’s Vintage Fair, Sweet Cream has become a popular addition to weddings and corporate gatherings, says Barton, who has a business degree and developed her recipes through six months of trial and error.
Located at 264 Theater Alley, behind Organic Natural Café, Sweet Cream is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday. See sweetcream-icecream.com.