To be honest, the word “vegan” appearing next to any food I like usually makes me groan. A vegan take on say liver wouldn’t bother me a bit. But vegan + ice cream? How could one fake the exquisite harmony of cream, eggs and sugar with coconut oil or worse?
But I’m rethinking my bias, now that I’ve tasted a few flavors by Scream Sorbet, which opened in Oakland’s Temescal neighborhood about 10 days ago.
Normally, sorbets are a combination of fruit, water and sugar. The creative confections that Scream Sorbet has sold at Bay Area farmers markets for the past few years don’t contain any dairy, but they still manage to take sorbet in a whole new direction. Scream sorbets eat like ice cream, since they have a surprisingly creamy and luscious texture that comes from a careful blend of nut milks and butters. After a bite of Scream sorbet, the palate feels clean instead of coated with fat, as often happens with dairy-based ice creams.
Owner Nathan Kurz explains that most traditional ice creams are 90 percent eggs, cream and sugar with just 10 percent flavoring like strawberries, chocolate or pistachio nuts added. But Scream pastry chef Stephanie Lau — who worked at Cafe Fanny — starts with a base ingredient like locally grown sweet potatoes, pomegranates or pecans and adds just enough sugar and fats from nuts or coconut to make the recipe creamy.
“You get so much more flavor out of the sorbets this way,” says Kurz, who owns Scream along with Noah Goldner. He explains the research that led them to creamy sorbets in this October 2010 New York Times Style Magazine piece.
At their storefront at 5030 Telegraph Ave., shoppers can pick up pints of sorbet for $8 to $10 apiece in a variety of Scream flavors like seasonal Pecan and Bourbon laced with Maker’s Mark, Rose Almond, Satsuma Mandarin, Coconut Thai Basil and Kettle Corn.
They’re still waiting for their final health department permit, so they can’t scoop ice cream – er sorbet – on premises yet. But it’s worth stopping by to sample of one of their ice cream sandwiches like shortbread stuffed with Meyer lemon sorbet or gingersnaps with Blue Bottle Coffee sorbet. They’re so good, I promise you’ll forget all about the v-word.
Update: Scream Sorbet closed its doors in 2013. If you want to try making a Scream-style nut sorbet at home, check out this pistachio sorbet recipe on the blog Joy of Blending.
© Maria C. Hunt, aka The Bubbly Girl