The Publican’s Dana Cree on Chicago’s Best Ice Cream Joints
The ice cream cookbook author gives us the scoop
If you’ve never visited a Publican restaurant and indulged in a Dana Cree-composed dessert, you’ve been missing out.
Unless you’re lactose intolerant. In which case, apologies.
The two-time finalist for the James Beard Award for Best Pastry Chef has made a name for herself creating some of Chicago’s most delicious treats — ice cream included. And that sweet-treat prowess is on full display in her debut cookbook, Hello, My Name Is Ice Cream: The Art and Science of the Scoop, out now.
Dana Cree Ice Cream (2 images)
Fun fact: Cree’s a certified ice cream expert. Literally. She’s a graduate of Ice Cream College, aka the Penn State Ice Cream Short Course, where she studied the art of the scoop from “cow to cone.” So Hello My Name Is Ice Cream — which shares its name with Cree’s hand-packed artisan ice cream, available at Publican Quality Meats — is more than just a collection of delectable recipes. It’s Ice Cream 101, as told by a virtual laureate of the craft.
Naturally, Cree is also an expert on the local creamery scene. So with warmer temps on the brain, we decided to get the scoop on her favorite scoops in town.
“I love this old school ice cream shop, from the giant clamshell dishes the sundaes come in, to the phosphates on the menu. It looks like it was decorated in the ‘60s then covered in plastic, and hasn’t been touched since. It’s a true time warp and a Chicago gem. I spend 20 minutes pouring over the menu and almost always end up ordering one of the turtle sundaes because I want a dish of their hot fudge. It comes in a pourable dish, but just try to pour it. It’s so thick it’s like a hot, rich, chocolate paste. I like to scoop up a spoonful of it to anchor each bite.”
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
“Jeni has set the new industry standard for American Hard Pack ice cream with her grass grazed dairy and nuanced flavors. We are lucky to have a small handful of her shops in Chicago that are open year-round. I am a big fan of the Brown Butter Almond Brittle, but will almost always mix it up and include one of her seasonal flavors in my cup. I just got her Ultramarine Blue, which is bright blue, with a flavor that’s out of this world.”
Black Dog Gelato
“Jessie [Oloroso] makes amazing fresh churned gelato every day and serves it as it should be, soft and smearable; never frozen solid. The flavors are both comforting and unique, and always delicious. She’s a true hometown ice cream hero for Chicago. Her flavors are always changing, so I never order the same thing twice! But her malted vanilla is a staple and well worth adding it to your cup.”
Spinning J Bakery and Soda Fountain
“This little soda fountain has all the vintage feels and serves up some amazing shakes, malts and floats. They use Black Dog Gelato as their base and transform it into some of my favorite sippable ice cream delights. I frequently get a strawberry malt, a combination I love and will gravitate towards almost every time I see it.”
“I am new to the frozen custard game, having grown up in Seattle I lived a life completely devoid of this frozen dessert. Thank goodness I came to the midwest, and am now a convert to the thick, creamy custard ice cream. Scooter’s does it right, and I love the Elvis concrete with peanut butter and bananas.”
Main Photo: Spinning J; Dana Cree Photo: Sandy Noto