Juno Ups the Ante with Ice Cream in a Churro Bowl

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Did you think Juno—the Bushwick food and drink establishment that does it all, including a morning coffee window, breakfast, lunch, a full bar program, dinner, and a late night menu—could do no more? Lazy souls with no imagination would say, there is no time to do anything else! But those are not the kind of people heading up operations at Juno.

John Barclay, also behind Bossa Nova Civic club, envisioned an all-day establishment, like an old fashioned diner, when he opened Juno in December; and so that is what he got with capable assists from bar manager Jordan Schwartz (previous from Nitecap, and Milk & Honey), coffee operations manager Nic Fera (previously of Blue Bottle) and head chef Salvatore Crisanti (from kitchens like Tabaré and Five Leaves). These are talented people—and that brand of person will push the bounds of what seems possible, given the hours in a day. And so this week, Fera and Crisanti did that with ice cream.

Yesterday, we stopped by to try it out—just to make sure all was up to snuff.

Fera—who grew up making ice cream with his parents—was especially excited to start churning out frozen milk and cream desserts, so he offered to partner with Crisanti to make it happen in the form of no-frills, old fashioned ice cream. To start, they’re making plain chocolate, mint-chocolate chip, and—the kicker—a Mexican coffee ice cream served in a a fried churro bowl.

We began with the chocolate, served as an affogato—fresh espresso poured all over it. The texture of the cream itself, per Fera’s description, is icy-thick and rudimentary, something you can really sink your teeth into. And the chocolate, from Bogatá makers Casa Luker, packs a very rich punch.

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Next we moved on to Fera’s peppermint chocolate chip. It uses the same custard base—and the same chocolate, chopped into crunchy little nibs—with the subtle, delightful addition of peppermint extract. It is fresh and crisp, served with a sprig of mint in a pretty cocktail glass. This—perfect for warm weather months—is one you could eat far more than two scoops of.

Finally, the pièce de résistance, a bowl made of a churro with Mexican coffee ice cream. “The ice cream itself is inspired from Mexican coffee—it has all spice in it, chipotle pepper, and garnished with cilantro and a little bit of chocolate as well,” says Crisanti. The coffee is Panther, and this batch came from Mexico. As with most of Crisanti’s recipes, this one was imagined on a day off. “My fiancé and I were sitting at home—she’s the word of wisdom most of the time—and she was like, ‘wouldn’t it be great if you made a churro bowl?’ and I was like, ‘yeah I guess I could do that.’”

I asked if any smoking was involved when this thought came to mind? “No, no, that’s the thing,” says Crisanti. “That’s just normal conversation for us. We just sit down and eat all the time on our days off and talk about food. The main idea was a churro bowl.” If you order this one, eat it fresh out of the kitchen: the churro has a hard crunch shell, whereas inside is all warm and gooey—and the spices gives it a finish with a kick. Combined with the freeze of the Mexican coffee chocolate, your mouth and stomach will be stimulated and happy.

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Fera says all their recipes use the same basic custard foundation: egg yolk, milk, cream, sugar, and salt. Then, as flavors like chocolate are added, he adjusts rations of cream versus milk, for example, to keep the fat content consistent. “We cool the custard and chill that in a refrigerator overnight. The next day we churn that.” This creates a consistency like soft-serve ice cream, which is again frozen until it’s solid. “It’s not the fast way but it’s the old fashioned way.”

“We’re like the new Ben and Jerry,” says Fera. “Nic and Sally.”

Two scoops of any Juno ice cream, $6. 

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