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I Scream Cone!

It may be summer but we’ve got a freeze warning if you’re venturing downtown. Rose Rock Microcreamery and its highly creative small-batch flavors are cream of the crop, no matter the weather.

Donna Leahey
Chelsi Fisher
May 28, 2018

Summer is here, with that bright Oklahoma sun in a big blue sky, not to mention those blistering hot days. When you’re out enjoying summer in the Sooner state, what better way to cool off than with ice cream? Rose Rock Microcreamery in The Boxyard serves up delicious small batches of creamy and delicious ice cream to cool you off and delight your taste buds.

Alongside traditional flavors like vanilla and chocolate are creative flavors you’ve probably never had in a waffle cone before. Take your cold and creamy treats out onto the patio and enjoy The Boxyard’s unique vibe at the same time as your frozen treat.

Like most Boxyard merchants, Rose Rock Microcreamery is a cozy space, but the decor reminds many of an old-fashioned ice cream parlor. The glass freezer case is filled with colorful ice cream in flavors from traditional to exotic, while the scent of waffle cones crisping up fills the air. It’s a special little place for a treat, and you can tell it as soon as you enter the glass main doors.

Chef James Nelson is as enthusiastic about his microbatch creations as he is knowledgeable. Nelson’s culinary training was in classic French and Italian, and he has extensive experience with Asian cuisine. The Rhode Island native moved to Oklahoma three years ago. He was working as a sushi chef when he met Rose Rock owner Jason Decker. “He’d just purchased a nitrogen tank and I said, ‘Dude, you can make ice cream with that!’”

Like most Boxyard merchants, Rose Rock Microcreamery is a cozy space, but the decor reminds many of an old-fashioned ice cream parlor. (Photo: Chelsi Fisher)
Like most Boxyard merchants, Rose Rock Microcreamery is a cozy space, but the decor reminds many of an old-fashioned ice cream parlor. (Photo: Chelsi Fisher)

Decker’s invitation for Nelson to bring his talents to Rose Rock came at a good time for Nelson and his family, and he’s been creating unique microbatch ice cream ever since.

You might be wondering what exactly a microcreamery is. Nelson has the answer.

“Microcreameries make small batches of ice cream, typically two and a half gallons at a time.” Ice cream must have a minimum of 10 percent butterfat, but microcreameries like Rose Rock usually have 14-16 percent. Overrun refers to the amount of air mixed into the ice cream. Typical ice cream can have 50-100 percent overrun. Rose Rock has about 30 percent, which makes it creamier.

Nelson takes extra care with the freezing process of Rose Rock’s ice cream, a process known as tempering. “The faster you can harden it, the smaller the ice crystals are when they form,” he explains. The small batches are frozen at -30 degree Fahrenheit and then gradually warmed to -8 degrees over two days. Nelson says this makes the ice crystals “really small. Smaller ice crystals make the ice cream creamier.”

All together, this means that Rose Rock’s microbatch ice cream is richer and creamier than most other ice cream.

Adding to the quality of Rose Rock’s small batch ice cream is their commitment to high quality, fresh, 100 percent natural ingredients, locally sourced whenever possible. Nelson pays attention to what’s coming into season on local farms and creates flavors with that in mind. Last summer, he created a Porter peach cobbler flavor to coincide with peach season.

Berries and Cream with Orange Sherbet (Photo: Chelsi Fisher)
Berries and Cream with Orange Sherbet (Photo: Chelsi Fisher)

The menu changes every month, giving Nelson plenty of room to explore his creativity. Every month’s menu of 16 flavors includes eight consistent flavors: Madagascar Vanilla, Midnight Chocolate, Cookies and Cream, Vietnamese Coffee, Rose Rock, Salted Caramel, Lavender Honey, and Vegan Chocolate. Nelson creates one flavor from their customer suggestion board, as well as one flavor that’s never been served by Rose Rock before.

Nelson enjoys creating new flavors, including some savory flavors you might not expect from ice cream, like Olive Oil and Rosemary or Smoked Chocolate with salted chocolate chips. “I hope we can expand people’s palates, help them think about food in a way that’s more than just sustenance,” he says.

Cookies and Cream is the most popular flavor, with their surprisingly sweet and subtle Lavender Honey a close second. In keeping with Rose Rock’s commitment to natural ingredients, the delicate purple color of the ice cream is achieved by adding an extract of purple carrots.

If you’re a fan of coffee ice cream, the Vietnamese Coffee should become a favorite. In addition to the rich coffee flavor, it’s sweetened with condensed milk, adding a caramelly sweetness. For vegans, the Vegan Chocolate is a special treat.

Most nondairy ice creams have a gritty, dry texture, but Rose Rock achieves a remarkably smooth finish. “Most places use soy,” says Nelson. “We use coconut. It makes it challenging because every coconut has a different amount of sugar, so the recipe varies by the nut.”

Their namesake flavor, Rose Rock, is an homage to Oklahoma. It’s a strawberry ice cream with candied pecans and crispy bits of chocolate magic shell. You can tell it’s naturally flavored because there’s none of that strong, overly sweet taste of artificial strawberry. The candied pecans and magic shell add hints of sweet texture. “The flavor combination is all things Oklahoma,” explains Nelson. “Strawberry is the state fruit. Pecans are the state nut. The magic shell represents the importance of oil to this state, and the rose rock is the state rock.”

A recent addition to the menu are flights. You can get five flavors served together to enjoy several creations at the same time.

Ice cream cones can be loaded with one scoop or up to four in different flavors. You can get a large or small sundae with a topping and a sauce of your choice and whipped cream.

Consider adding a homemade toasted marshmallow to your order. This isn’t a dry, round marshmallow like you’d find in a plastic bag at the grocery store; this is fresh, soft, and toasted hot and melty in front of you.

On a hot day, a handmade float is a great refreshment, and Rose Rock has taken care to make sure theirs is special. “We went to Pops [in Arcadia, Okla.] and bought every cherry soda and every root beer they had. We were looking for the best vehicle to showcase the ice cream.”

In addition to delicious frozen treats, Rose Rock is committed to sustainability. The plates, spoons and bowls are all biodegradable, and rather than using plastic disposable tasting spoons, Rose Rock’s spoons are reusable. Nelson estimates they give a thousand tastes in a weekend, so that’s a lot of trash not being created.

Next to the glass case is a small freezer with hand-packed pints ready for you to take home. It has popular flavors ready to go, but if you want a pint of something else, they’ll be glad to pack it for you.

If you’ve got a special event coming up, consider Rose Rock for catering. “We’ll do a variety of catering. We’ll sell cups, two and a half gallons at a time, or come out and do all the work,” Nelson says. “Most of our catering is weddings. We’ll sit down with you and create a custom flavor just for you and your wedding.”

Rose Rock Microcreamery
The Boxyard | 502 E. 3rd St., Unit 35 | Tulsa
Monday-Sunday: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

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