Thinking Outside the Box

In this business you can sense fairly early on who is going to make it and who isn’t. And when asked who are the shining stars in the retail ice cream business, one of the first names that come to mind is the Mulberry Street Creamery, owned and operated by Linda and Rick Mercurio of Kittanning, PA. To say they are perfectionists in creating the best possible gelato, ice cream, and sorbet products is not even close to the truth.

Linda and Rick are “out of the box people,” and that’s why I like them so much. Following is an article Linda wrote in a NICRA newsletter which truly reflects how they think.

It’s FINALLY Spring!!! Here in the Northeast we’ve had a long, miserable winter and are so anxious for warm, sunny weather. We’re also excited about reopening our store and seeing all of our customers again! So, what new frozen novelties or specialty desserts do you have planned to offer that will WOW them this year? Nothing new from last season? Hmmm!! Let’s think outside the “cake box” to come up with some incredible ideas for new and exciting ice cream cakes for your customers.

The ice cream dessert business should be more than just regular vanilla/chocolate cakes with the fudge and crumb coat center. Pies can be more than popular flavors in a graham cracker crust. While these cakes and pies are very popular and are great for birthdays, etc. so much more can be done with your ice cream to bring customers into your store to buy desserts on a regular basis.

Here’s an idea. Think about your local bakery. When you walk in, you see cakes, pies and cookies. The cake case is filled with so many varieties, chocolate, yellow, pumpkin, carrot, lemon, but when you really think about it, they’re all just cake. All of them are some sort of batter baked into different forms and shapes; some plain, others are made to look fancy with whipped cream, gooey frosting, pretty flowers or sprinkled with something that gives a hint of what’s inside. The same can be said for the pies and cookies. But when you stand back and look at the hundreds of items the bakery has to offer, it looks overwhelming, and exciting and delicious!

That’s exactly what your customers should experience when looking at your frozen dessert case. You can make this happen using your ice cream.

Let’s start with the cakes. I use real “baked” cake in all of my ice cream cakes. I purchase them from my supplier in two sizes: 8″ round and 1/4 sheet. For those of you who don’t use real cake, you should try it. And for those of you who do, I’ll show you some new uses for that cake. I offer what I call Specialty Cakes, which come in the following flavors: lemon, vanilla or chocolate turtle, chocolate raspberry or strawberry vanilla. Any flavors are fine, but these were the five best sellers in my area. They were invented to attract the customers who were in need of a cake for any reason other than a child’s birthday. These cakes are basically built the same way with slight variations.

  • Thaw the cake slightly and then cut in half horizontally. This gives you two 3/4-inch   pieces. You’ll need one whole and 1/2 of a second cake to make these cakes.
  • Place one of the cake halves on a board and wrap a 3″ acetate ring around it. Tighten the acetate and tape it. Any bakery supplier will have these rings.

The next layer is ice cream, approximately 3/4 inches of whatever flavor is desired.