Watching Joe Gasparino make ice cream at his shop, it’s almost like observing a scientist mixing chemicals.
He’s constantly experimenting with new flavors — some huge hits, others not so huge hits. He’s even found a few hits by mistake.
“I try to come up with new flavors every couple of days,” Gasparino said. “I make my ice cream in very small batches and make one bucket at a time.”
“I don't have massive backups, a lot of places make ice cream for the week,” he said. “I make ice cream per bucket and when it runs out I make another one so it's always fresh. Ice cream is all made the same way but it's how fresh you keep it.”
Since Batchmaker’s opened at 481 Pompton Ave. in Cedar Grove in April 2011, Gasparino has been every single day.
Not only does Joe make the traditional popular flavors, he also likes to experiment with new flavors. His most popular flavors for the fall are pumpkin pie and caramel apple. All of his ingredients are fresh which means he makes the pumpkin pie ice cream with real pumpkin pies and caramel apple with fresh apples that are marinated overnight in sugar and caramel.
“I also make pumpkin pie ice cream pies that I sell during Thanksgiving,” he said. “I bake the pie crust and fill them with ice cream fresh out of the machine so its soft and then I put it in the freezer and let it harden up. It’s almost like an ice cream cake but its ice cream pie.”
Gasparino recently spoke to Patch about a few of his ice cream secrets.
What is the process of making homemade ice cream?
“I start with the all the best ingredients that I possibly can. My ice cream is made with the highest butterfat content that you can get which makes it rich and creamy. I have a commercial ice cream machine and I use all real flavors in my ice cream. If I am making red velvet I make the cake and use it as the flavor. How long it takes depends on what you are making. I always use the best ingredients because that makes the best ice cream.”
What is your favorite flavor that you make? What is the most popular?
“My most popular flavor is cookie monster. It's double stuffed Oreo's, soft batch chocolate chip cookies in vanilla ice cream that's dyed blue. It’s by far my most popular flavor, I go through that more than anything. My personal favorite is key lime pie.”
How often do you experiment with new flavors? What is the best one you have come up with and what was a flavor that did not work out so well?
“I try and change out my flavors every couple of days. The best flavor I have ever come up with is the key lime pie. That is the one that I hit it on the head. As soon as I made it, it was perfect on the first batch.”
“I have had other ones that have failed terribly but one of my best selling flavors started out as a mistake: Double Coffee Caramel Chip. I measured out for a full batch but I really wanted a half batch but I had already loaded everything into the machine so it was all double ingredients. I was making plain coffee and I didn't want to waste a batch of ice cream so I cut it with a little caramel and chocolate chips. It was a hit from the minute I put it out.”
“I tried to make cannoli ice cream and it was a huge failure and it cost me a lot of money and I didn't even end up putting it out. I was trying to make fresh cannoli cream and it didn't work. It tasted more like ricotta cheese than cannoli cream. I should have just bought cannoli cream and I didn't, I tried to use my own. I’m going to attempt it again for Christmas time.”
How does extreme heat affect your business and what do you do to draw in customers during the winter months?
“Extreme heat affects my business just as it affects everyone else, in a negative way. There is such a thing as too hot for ice cream. Some of those days we had that were 100 plus were some of my slower days because people just don't want to come out of their house. If they do come out of their house they want to go anywhere with a body of water. My business is extremely, extremely weather dependent.”
“Everything surprised me when I got into this business. I thought fur sure, out of common sense, that summer would be my busiest time of year and its not. I’m busier in the spring and the fall than any other season. August is by far the worst month, almost as bad as December.”
“A few months ago I started going after wholesale customers, banquet halls, weddings, birthdays, bar mitzvahs that get me through the winter. It’s a small store so you have to do more than sit there and pray someone walks in the door, you have to go out and get the business. Ice cream is an extra, it’s not a meal, its not like you need to have it so you have to go out and get the business. I started focusing more on catering events.”
What is something you want our readers to know about Batchmaker's?
“Customer service is my number one most important thing. Delicious ice cream is very important too, I only use the best ingredients in my stuff and I don't ever skimp on anything. I make my ice cream fresh every single day. I'd rather be out of something for day and make it fresh the next day than have three or four backups of it because the thing that really, really makes a difference in the taste of ice cream is how fresh it is.”