Serving Up a Scoop of History
Q&A with Hannah Spiegelman
Creator of A Sweet History, currently in Baltimore, Maryland, but moving soon to Boston
What is A Sweet History all about?
A Sweet History is a historically-inspired ice cream concept that creates custom flavors based on historic figures, events, art, etc. I want to share history with people in an accessible and delicious way.
Tell us an ice cream memory.
My strongest early ice cream memory was a very fresh strawberry sorbet I had on a school trip to Northern France when I was in eighth grade.
What are your most popular flavors?
17th Century Vanilla (orange blossom custard), La Poire (pickled pear sorbet), and Tea Heist (tropical green tea and matcha ice cream) have been some of the most popular flavors.
What is your favorite flavor?
Either Women's March on Versailles (smoked salt ice cream with blood orange swirl and chocolate sourdough breadcrumbs) or Valentine's Day (red raspberry leaf and rose ice cream with bee pollen).
What is the most unique flavor your brand ever offered?
Eclipse (Szechuan peppercorn chocolate sorbet with glazed golden beets) or Pisces (sea salt spirulina ice cream with Earl Grey-infused fig honey).
Is there a flavor you love(d) but that didn’t find an audience?
Since I make flavors with the inspiration or commissioner in mind, I find that the opposite can happen—sometimes I end up making flavors with ingredients that I'm not too fond of.
What inspires you and why?
First and foremost, history! And then art, mythology, and astrology.
How did you get into the ice cream business?
I was really into baking and being in the kitchen since I was in high school. After realizing I would never master frosting, I turned to ice cream as my medium for creative expression. In college, I started working at ice cream shops, bakeries, and cafes—I was lucky to have a supportive boss at the last place I worked who pushed me to start my own business.
How did you learn to make ice cream?
I'm self-taught with the help of cookbooks. The first ice cream cookbook that I used was by David Leibovitz, and discovering Jeni's cookbook made me even more obsessed. Working from [Dana Cree’s] Hello, My Name Is Ice Cream got me really into the science behind the dessert.
Cup or cone?
Sugar cone. They taste great and aren’t too big.
What is your topping of choice?
If I ever get a topping, I stick with creative house-made toppings, like the lemon gummy bears at Honeycomb Creamery [in Cambridge, Massachusetts].
Best advice you can share for those who want to get into the ice cream biz?
Have a reason for making ice cream, make it as often as you can, and share it with as many people as you can.
Do you have an industry mentor or person who inspires you?
Krystal Mack was my biggest inspiration when starting A Sweet History—I am so grateful for her support. My ice cream idol, though, is Jeni Britton Bauer. I went from having a strong general interest in ice cream to believing ice cream could be a career after reading Jeni's first book.
What's your advice for making ice cream at home?
I would suggest starting with the basic Cusinart classic ice cream maker and getting ice cream cookbooks rather than just looking at recipes online. Also, have fun with flavors—you can put so many different things in ice cream, which is why it’s so great.
Catch Hannah's mentor Krystal Mack on Radio Cherry Bombe!
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