Chef Irene Li
We recently spoke with Irene to find out more about the world of mobile foodservice and its differing processes from work-life in a brick-and-mortar restaurant kitchen.Read Bio
Creating A Healthier Sweet Tooth
Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit has been recognized globally for creating healthy-inspired treats, smoothies and breakfast-inspired offerings using fruit, water and a touch of organic cane sugar. Share with us your inspiration behind this style of shop.
Chloe's Soft Serve Fruit was really inspired by an intense sweet tooth and commitment to a healthy lifestyle. Once I became pregnant, I started to pay more attention to the quality of the food I was feeding myself and my future children. As a former fro-yo addict, I was forever searching for an alternative to the artificial ingredients of frozen yogurt and the fat or dairy of ice cream, so that I could confidently feed my children and myself.
With my husband's childhood best friend, who was a former triathlete, we started experimenting with over-ripened frozen bananas and every appliance in the kitchen until we landed on the perfect combination of fruit, water and organic cane sugar. Blending in a soft-serve machine, we created a creamy, clean, delicious frozen snack that happened to be dairy-free, gluten-free, fat-free, vegan and free of all the major allergens.
My kids were young by the time we started and I was thrilled to have something that they loved eating for the taste as much as I loved serving for the nutritional value. They really helped coin our motto "The Cool Way to Eat Fruit."
Explain your process and techniques for extracting maximum flavor with fruit-based ingredients.
It's really just the three ingredients; fruit, water and organic cane sugar. Blending these in the soft-serve machine results in that creamy consistency and the process starts with the purchasing of high-quality fruit. This makes it distinctively delicious because we don't have stabilizers or other additives.
Another fun fruit fact about Chloe's is that we now have a slow-drip factor, meaning that since we don't use additives, the natural fibers of the fruit hold everything together. This allows the soft serve and our pops to melt more slowly. People really value that; schools and camps love it because you can sit with your snack for longer without it melting so quickly.
How do you use seasonings and spices to enhance the flavor profiles of your breakfast-inspired offerings such as acai bowls and waffles.
We're always looking to be creative with our menu items and identify ingredients that complement the soft serve fruit. An example of that is our fall soft-serve varieties, apple and pumpkin. Their flavors are definitely enhanced by cinnamon and nutmeg. We love to encourage our customers to add those spices. We also incorporate all-spice into seasonal features as well.
Describe biggest limitations and challenges you face in only using natural flavors and ingredients?
One might be that we get asked a lot about why we use added sugar and the answer to that is because in making our soft serve fruit, we have to dilute the fruit with water. This lowers the natural sugar levels which will then cause the mix to breathe in the machine. In order to keep liquidity and achieve consistency, we have to add something to raise that sugar level back up.
As far as limitations go, we've encountered only one or two fruits that didn't work so well on their own through our process or that we haven't yet figured out. There are less limitations than benefits to being able to enjoy the natural flavors of a fruit and not having it masked by any artificial ingredients.
What are the next flavor pairings that we can expect to see making their way into Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit?
Well, a few days ago, we launched a partnership with La Colombe Coffee in our Union Square shop so we'll not only be offering their cans of coffee but we are also incorporating the coffee into soft-serve fruit as smoothies and sundaes.
For the winter, we'll be introducing our pomegranate soft serve fruit. We already have pomegranate pops which were our most recent edition to the pop line. The pomegranate soft serve fruit will be a nice wintery variety with a little more tartness to it, which will be fun. In January, we will have tangerine as an option as a soft serve and a pop.