Reporting Jason DeRusha
FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. (WCCO) – It is one of the most buzzed-about new foods at the Minnesota State Fair in 2013: mini-donut batter crunch ice cream. And you’ll find it at one of the oldest places on the fairgrounds.
The Hamline Church Dining Hall has been at the fair since 1897.
“This is our 116th year. We are the longest consecutive concession stand at the fair,” said Teresa Renneke, from Hamline Church in St. Paul.
But even the old guys know that being on the list of new state fair foods brings tons of customers. They wanted a new flavor from their partners at St. Paul’s Izzy’s Ice Cream.
“We were trying to think of foods that were very common at the fair like cheese curds,” said Renneke. “The Izzy’s people said ‘no way’ to cheese curds.”
Instead they thought mini donuts, and Izzy’s was all in.
At first, owner Jeff Sommers said he tried to make his own, but that didn’t work. The flavor just wasn’t working out.
“We started thinking, ‘How can we work it backwards? How can we have fun with it?’”
Sommers took his ice cream base, which comes from Sassy Cow Creamery, and then mixed in flavors to create a donut-flavored ice cream. Then the trick was how to create the flavor of the mini-donut.
“If you are like me there are one or two [mini-donuts] that are fantastic, the rest are …” Sommers said, trailing off. “I enjoy them, but there are one or two with crunch. Those are the magical mini-donuts.”
Creating that crunch was the key, he said.
“I spent some time, we played around, I’m pretty happy with mini-donut batter crunch,” said Sommers.
Some nutmeg and allspice is added to the donut batter, then the secret ingredient: the crunch.
“You can look at it, but you can’t know what’s in it,” said kitchen manager Shannon Leach.
The custom premium ice cream mixture goes into the Turbo blender for a minute and a half, then six minutes into the ice cream machine so it freezes.
The crunch gets folded in by hand after the ice cream is frozen. After six minutes getting frozen and whipped in the ice cream machine, then Shannon mixes in the secret crunch ingredient by hand.
“I tell you what, it is remarkable how it captures the flavor of mini-donuts,” said WCCO’s Jason DeRusha.
“Yeah we’re really excited about it,” said Sommers.
Hamline Dining Hall is excited about it, too; they have a plan to keep volunteers from sneaking all the crunch.
“We have told our volunteers they have to pay for it,” laughed Renneke.
Izzy’s first created a custom flavor for Hamline Dining Hall in 2012, Church “Elder” Berry. The hall is two blocks from the main entrance at the State Fair, at 1667 Dan Patch Avenue.