Dec. 3, 2008

Yam ice cream takes the prize in Cornell class contest

Healthy ice cream doesn't have to be an oxymoron. Take this year's winner of Food Science 101's ice cream-making contest: Slammin' Yamz! -- yam-flavored ice cream with beta carotene and fiber, molasses, marshmallow swirl, cinnamon and nutmeg and less than 4 percent fat.

Slammin' Yamz! beat out Carobu Trails -- an almond-flavored ice cream with black raspberry swirl, chopped almonds and carob chips that is also low in sugar -- by one point in judging.

The introductory food science class creates new ice creams each fall semester. This year's assignment was to create healthier ice cream with no more than 4 percent fat (instead of the usual 14 percent). In four teams of about 20 students each, the class researched ice cream flavor names, formulas, butterfat content, proportions and potential market for the product. They also learned the technical aspects of commercial food processing for ice cream, such as how much milk-fat content would be acceptable to the discriminating palate, how much overrun (air content) to introduce and how much particulate (crunchy tidbits) to use.

"Producing foods such as ice cream that are both enjoyable and healthier is a challenge, but this group did a great job for their first real try at it," said Joseph Hotchkiss, professor of food science who has been teaching the course since 1995.

Slammin' Yamz! will be sold at the Cornell Dairy Bar during the spring semester. Sticky Bunz ice cream, the student-team winner from 1998, is still among the most popular flavors sold at the Cornell Dairy Bar.

Other contenders this year were Blues-be-gone, a blueberry and pomegranate/white-tea flavored ice cream with a dark chocolate swirl fortified with multivitamins, and Zucchini Swirl, a vanilla ice cream with chocolate flakes and a cinnamon swirl.