I’m an ice cream girl. I can polish off a pint in 30 minutes with relative ease. It’s my go-to dessert, even in the winter months (I was already cold, anyway). I don’t discriminate on the type, either—gelato, ice cream, soft serve, and any other frozen creation all equally tempt me. But one quality I don’t typically look for in an ice cream is healthfulness. In my experience, “healthy”—when it comes to ice cream—usually just means that it doesn’t taste as good and is therefore a waste of my money and stomach space. But after wandering into Pure Milk & Honey in Mockingbird Station the other evening, I discovered I was wrong.
The soft serve spot, with an adorable bee painted on a wall, uses only southern Dallas’ Bonton Farms honey to sweeten the ice cream instead of refined sugar. It does away with preservatives and uses only natural ingredients. The dairy flavors are honey, pumpkin spice, chocolate, and banana, while non-dairy options are chocolate and strawberry. Toppings are simple and include fruit, nuts, and matcha powder. Although skeptical, I ordered and hoped that this place would prove different.
As I dug into the Going Bananas sundae, with honey soft serve, homemade banana bread, sliced bananas, dark chocolate chips, and fudge sauce, a wave of relief came over me to discover that not only did it not taste inferior, it tasted better than many “non-healthy” soft serves I’ve tried. So, too, did a salted blue corn cone with chocolate soft serve and raspberries affixed on top. But I figured the non-dairy options couldn’t possibly match the creaminess and subtly sweet flavors of the dairy concoctions, made with nonfat milk powder, whole milk, cream, and stabilizer.
For the Camp Fire sundae, I opted for dairy-free strawberry soft serve instead of honey. It came with torched marshmallow, graham cracker, dark chocolate chips and fudge sauce. And if I hadn’t known the ice cream was void of dairy, I would never have guessed.
Naturally, I was yearning to know how Pure Milk & Honey owner Cindy Chung managed to turn a traditional ice cream-aholic to the healthy side. Chung, who grew up in a household where desserts were prohibited, wanted to find a way to reconcile her healthy habits as an adult with her insatiable sweet tooth. She landed on honey as the ideal soft serve sweetener and picked Bonton’s after tasting numerous types of honey since theirs is not overly sweet and has a nice finish. “It was like tasting a fine wine but in honey form,” Chung says.
For the non-dairy flavors, she uses a coconut cream base that gives them the smooth texture. She currently sources the colorful cones from The Konery in Brooklyn because they have a high percentage of natural ingredients, although she may start making cones in-house in the future. Her granola topping is made in-house and is also sweetened with Bonton honey.
Chung plans to add sweet potato, chai, or apple pie soft serve to the mix for fall and winter, along with plated dessert-ice cream pairings that could feature carrot cake and a dark chocolate brownie. And for Thanksgiving and Christmas, the store will sell “pies and pints”— including both standard-size and mini apple pies, pumpkin pies, and pecan pies.
When I grab some for my family’s holiday get-together, I bet you they won’t know the difference.