We’re big fans of Penny Lick Ice Cream in Hastings, so when I heard that the owner started offering an ice cream making class geared toward children, I had to sign up my kids. It seemed like the perfect “Camp Mommy” activity for the summer.
Penny Lick University is taught by Ellen Sledge, Penny Lick’s owner and a trained pastry chef who worked in the kitchens of Picholine and Artisanal before becoming a mom and deciding to start her own ice cream business so she could keep her own hours. Ellen is a natural teacher, instantly putting my kids, ages 8 and 6, at ease by introducing them to “Elliot,” Penny Lick’s resident ice cream making machine.
After washing their hands and donning aprons, the kids were put to work. They collected the fresh vanilla ice cream pouring out of Elliot, and mixed in crumbled Oreos to turn it into cookies ‘n’ cream. Each got to eat a scoop of the finished product. Then they picked a flavor they wanted to make from scratch (chocolate, of course), and got busy measuring out the ingredients in the commercial kitchen under Ellen’s instruction.
As they worked, Ellen spoke about where the ingredients were coming from, letting the kids sniff vanilla beans and cacao nibs. I was impressed with how informative the lesson was – it wasn’t dumbed down just because the students were children. I learned a lot, too, including a fact about soft serve that I wish I could unhear. (One of the ingredients? Wood pulp.)
Penny Lick’s ice cream is a far cry from commercial soft serve, the fresh and natural ingredients shining through with every lick (the Ethiopian Macchiato is to die for). After the lesson, the kids each got a cone to enjoy while perched on the shop’s window seat. It was the perfect ending to a really fun experience.
To sign up for Penny Lick University, visit the website. It’s $20 per participant, and classes run on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday from 4:30 to 5:30. The class size maxes out at eight, and kids must be 5 or older. Private lessons and birthday parties can also be arranged.
Penny Lick Ice Cream, 580 Warburton Avenue, Hastings; 914-525-1580