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The Scoop on Cheese Ice Cream

When it comes to creating a sophisticated dessert, pairing rich cheeses with something sweet is a timeless classic. And while a beautiful cheeseplate will always stay in style, cheese-infused ice cream is a slightly less common dinner party dessert.

As one of the world’s most cherished comfort foods, there are many who might say that the forever delightful bowl of ice cream needs no improvement. But while vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry are perfect in a pinch, chefs and food enthusiasts alike have come up with some ingenious ways for reinventing the common cone. And what better way to enhance traditional ice cream flavors than to include a stunning cheese in the recipe? Elevated flavors like Lemon Mascarpone Ice Cream and Pistachio Honey Ricotta Ice Cream make use of the light and creamy cheeses that are commonly used in other forms of dessert preparation, such as Chocolate Mascarpone Petits Fours and those always comforting cannolis.

But even cheeses not typically used in dessert preparation can work in ice cream — recipes like Caramelized Banana Blue Cheese Ice Cream and Rosemary Balsamic Parmigiano Ice Cream are proof of that. If you think we’re crazy, hear us out.

Although it might seem nontraditional, Parmesan ice cream originated long before trendy twenty-first century chefs began experimenting with it in their restaurants. In fact, the recipe for Parmesan ice cream is over 250 years old, and was once an extremely popular flavor among European and American elites.

Originally, due to technological limitations and the high costs of necessary ingredients, ice cream was a rare delicacy only enjoyed by members of the upper class. Those rich enough to sample it were treated to a luxurious snack fit for a king (and even the royals only indulged in ice cream on special occasions). Yet unlike moderns eaters, historical ice cream lovers did not reserve the food for dessert time and midnight sugar cravings. In fact, ice cream was often enjoyed as a savory dish, with one of the most common flavors being Parmesan ice cream. Sarah Lohman, a historic gastronomist and author of the food blog Four Pounds Flour, wrote in an Etsy Kitchen History article: “…the Parmesan ice cream was molded into the shape of a wedge of cheese, with a rind simulated in caramelized sugar.”

Early versions of the now ubiquitous dessert did not stop at Parmesan. Recipes for chestnut, asparagus, and even oyster ice cream (a particular favorite of First Lady Dolley Madison, who popularized ice cream in the White House in the early nineteenth century) have been found among historical documents. With flavors like those, doesn’t a big bowl of goat cheese brownie ice cream sound that much more tame — and delicious? We think so too.

Photo Credit: angsarap.net

Emily Dangler

Culture Intern Emily Dangler is a creative writer and travel enthusiast, who is always looking for a good story to tell. Originally a West Coast girl, Emily has spent several years migrating across the country and is currently an adopted resident of Boston, where she is enjoying the city's delicious food and rich history.