How Eleven Madison Park Influenced Our Ice Cream | Vegan Chef Inspired
The year 2021 was coming to a close, and we were deep in recipe development for the Spring 2022 menu.
As part of this menu update, we aimed to introduce a brand new range of ice cream flavours.
If you’ve been following our journey since day one, you’ll know our ice cream has always revolved around these three base flavours — vanilla, chocolate, or cheesecake.
While we’ve experimented with unique bases like Jammie Hendrix (infused with tea) and Meyer Lemon & Lavender (hinting of lavender), I decided it was time to break the mold and offer our community something truly extraordinary.
I wanted to create something that would blow people away.
Finding Inspiration in Unexpected Places
As I was reading through my recipe books, searching for inspiration, I was almost ready to call it a day when I stumbled across a remarkable dessert in the Eleven Madison Park cookbook.
Behold: The Chocolate Palette with Peanuts and Popcorn Ice Cream.
The presentation of this dessert is magnificent. You can see the meticulous attention to detail, right down to the golden caramelized popcorn delicately resting atop the chocolate palette.
I read the recipe from start to finish. Every detail.
One of the finishing garnishes particularly caught my eye — popcorn ice cream.
Instantly, questions swirled in my mind. Why popcorn in ice cream? What would it taste like? Would it retain its crunchiness?
The Experiment Begins
My journey to create this bold new flavour started with a simple vanilla base ice cream, infused with butter popcorn.
It took 10 quarts of popcorn in a 10-quart batch of ice cream for the popcorn flavour to come through just right.
We were extremely proud of this new recipe and went on to launch it as the Butter Popcorn ice cream.
It received mixed reviews. While some guests loved the innovative flavour, we soon realized it lacked complimentary flavours.
Sadly, the Butter Popcorn ice cream did not survive the seasonal menu updates that followed.
A Second Chance
Fast forward three years, as I was developing recipes for the Summer 2023 menu, I decided to revisit the popcorn ice cream.
Initially, I thought about naming it “Movie Theatre” ice cream, paying homage to the original popcorn base with added textures reminiscent of movie theater snacks.
But because candy would not freeze well and would likely crack a tooth, I had to reconsider.
The Winning Formula
In a brainstorming session with our culinary development team, we put our heads together to think of where else someone would enjoy popcorn.
A ball game was the most excitable answer – alongside hot dogs, chocolate, crunchy peanuts, pretzels, and the like.
I revisited the original inspiration from the Eleven Madison Park cookbook and realized the answer had been in front of me from the beginning.
Popcorn, peanuts, and chocolate had always been the winning combination.
I was so focused on the popcorn ice cream that I missed the broader picture.
A couple of tests later, the Ballpark ice cream was born — the original butter popcorn base complemented by roasted peanuts, caramel, and chocolate chips, making for the perfect scoop.
Since its debut in the Summer 2023 ice cream lineup, it has remained one of our best sellers at all Virtuous Pie locations in Vancouver, Victoria, and Portland. Some may call it a “Home Run”!
The Ballpark ice cream is now available in scoops, cones, pints, and as an ice cream sandwich.
Whether you enjoy it in-store or have it delivered through DoorDash, this new Virtuous Pie ice cream is a must-try.
Vegan Chef Inspired is our blog series where Operations Manager Matthew Blandy writes about running a vegan restaurant in Vancouver.
ABOUT VIRTUOUS PIE
With locations in Vancouver, Victoria, and Portland, Virtuous Pie is an elevated fast-casual restaurant, focused on handcrafted vegan pizza and ice cream. We also offer a variety of appetizers, drinks, and desserts, creating the ideal space for sharing a meal with loved ones.
From day one, we decided that we would take a handcrafted approach to our menus. Our plant-based cheese and beloved dairy-free ice creams are all made in small batches by our dedicated kitchen teams in-house.