Thu04242014

Food & Wine

Winter's freeze arrives in time for dessert


l Fenstermacher watch a scoop freeze at Smitten.

A frosty new feature on Los Altos’ food scene opened just before Christmas – Smitten Ice Cream whips up made-to-order treats from a storefront attached to Whole Foods Market at 4800 El Camino Real.

“It’s never too cold for ice cream,” said founder Robyn Fisher of Smitten’s December debut. “It wasn’t part of the plan – we were held up in permitting – but it’s a great outing for family and friends, and this time of year is all about that.”

After earning a business degree at Stanford University, Fisher spent years studying the ice cream business and inventing a device, the “Brrr” machine, that uses liquid nitrogen to churn individual scoops of ice cream on demand. At the Los Altos store, staff mix up combinations of cream, sugar and ingredients such as mint leaves, TCHO chocolate or summer fruit. The rotating seasonal flavors change monthly, with Meyer Lemon Gingersnap ready to freeze now, and next month Earl Grey Milk Chocolate coming online.

The plumes of vapor that accompany each scoop’s creation add drama to the dessert process, but Fisher noted that the technology freezes up ice cream with smaller ice crystals than typical, creating a “smoother, creamier product.”

“The Brrr machine has special mixing beaters that maneuver the ice cream, and there’s a large software component that measures viscosity and knows consistency, adding a technological element to every batch,” she said.

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