How It’s Made: Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream Mixes

Behind the Scenes, Meet, Product Spotlight, Williams-Sonoma Behind the Scenes

Welcome to our new series, How It’s Made, where we pull back the curtain on how our gourmet food products are created. This week, Gloria Tai, our food development sourcing manager, shares the story behind our new Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream Mixes, created in partnership with San Francisco ice cream maker Humphry Slocombe.


Scoops made from our new Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream Starters.


Telltale signs that we’ve been working on ice cream mixes at Williams Sonoma HQ: 1. Summer is around the corner, and 2. Our clothes are a little snugger in the middle.


For adults and kids alike, ice cream is everything positive—nostalgia, happiness—which makes it such a fun product to develop. There are more scoop spots than we can count around the country, but one that has really inspired us is Humphry Slocombe, located right in our hometown of San Francisco. Named after characters out of a 1970s British TV show, Humphry Slocombe is the brainchild of two chefs, Jake Godby and Sean Vahey, who are churning out scoops made from unique combinations of exceptional ingredients—think flavors like Elvis (the Fat Years) and Peanut Butter Curry. We’ve been longtime fans off Humphry’s scoops—we’ve been carrying a sampler of some of their top flavors for years—and the food development team is obsessed with their signature flavor Secret Breakfast, an unexpected but brilliant combo of sweet cream, vanilla, corn flakes and bourbon.


We reached out to Jake and Sean to see if they’d be interested in working us to bring their signature flavors into peoples’ homes. Secret Breakfast, of course, was at the top of our list, but we were looking for even more flavors. This meant tasting individual scoops of their entire ice cream menu, from Cinnamon Brittle to Here’s Your Damn Strawberry. It was tough work, but someone had to do it!


Food development team member Alison Kunetka during a round of tasting for Secret Breakfast. Photo credit: Merritt Watts


We ultimately landed on three flavors: Secret Breakfast, Vietnamese Coffee and Chocolate Malted. For our beloved cornflakes-and-bourbon flavor, we went through six vigorous rounds of research and development to get the right balance of sweetness, booziness and crunch. One non-negotiable for Jake and Sean was the caramelized cornflake cookie that they make at the shop, so we incorporated their made-in-house cookies into our mix instead of creating it ourselves. Then we discovered that there’s only so much bourbon flavoring you can add to a dry mix to achieve a sweet, smoky flavor, so we decided to recommend that home cooks add more bourbon at home. Our biggest challenge, however, was replicating the creamy mouthfeel of the ice cream served at the shop; the recipe, which was designed for ice cream made in an industrial setting, had to be tweaked for a home ice cream machine. Time after time, too much cream in our recipe led to over whipping, which ended in an overflowing mess on the our test kitchen counter.


The Vietnamese Coffee starter was modeled after another fan favorite at Humphry, Blue Bottle Vietnamese Coffee. This Southeast Asian-style coffee is made with a coarsely-ground dark roast that’s been blended with bitter chicory and is typically served with sweetened condensed milk. The result is a robust flavor that lends itself well to ice cream. To create the right blend for our starter, we added a bit of buttermilk and a pinch of sea salt to match the creamery’s product, tasting the two side by side to make sure it matched their scoop shop version.


Scenes from a round of development for Humphry Slocombe Malted Chocolate Ice Cream Starter. Photo credit: Merritt Watts


At Humphry Slocombe, even the most classic of flavors are never boring; chocolate takes shape as Chocolate Malted ice cream, which was born out of Jake and Sean reverse engineering the flavors of a chocolate malted shake. We tasted many variations on a theme here with differing amounts of cocoa and malted milk powder until we zeroed in on the perfect balance, and it’s a perfect choice if neither caffeinated nor boozy ice cream is your cup of tea.


If you fancy yourself a bit of an ice cream expert, then check out our new Humphry Slocombe ice cream starters in Secret BreakfastVietnamese Coffee and Chocolate Malted Ice Cream


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *