How Van Leeuwen's ice cream empire is making vegan flavors cool

PHOTO: Van Leeuwens "Planet Earth" sky blue ice cream has chunks of yummy matcha green Kettle Tea cake.PlayVan Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream
WATCH How Van Leeuwen's ice cream empire is making vegan flavors cool

In celebration of summer, "Good Morning America" is exploring some of the most swoon-worthy cold treats around. So, go ahead and treat yourself, and be sure to check back for more of our extreme ice cream picks!

Before you say, "no, thank you" to vegan ice cream, take another look. Van Leeuwen's Artisan Ice Cream has developed a cult following around their vegan ice cream that rivals the traditional dairy treat.

"Being able to serve as many people as possible was part of our mission," the company's founder Ben Van Leeuwen told "GMA." "Ice cream is an inclusive thing. It's for everybody and we wanted to be able to do that."

It all started out as a labor of love for Van Leeuwen, who said had never made ice cream before he started experimenting in the kitchen of his Brooklyn apartment in 2007.

"The inspiration behind Van Leeuwen came from our own experiences tasting extraordinary food," he said. "Not necessarily fancy food, but single ingredients that made the food really great and shook our core. We thought it was incredible and wanted to find a way to make that more accessible to others. But [we] knew that we wanted to use extraordinary fresh ingredients in addition to unique ingredients from all over the world."

The base ingredients of Van Leeuwen's vegan ice cream is cashew milk and cocoa butter, or a coconut milk base. Their traditional ice cream consists of fresh milk and cream, cane sugar, and egg yolks. The company sources some of its key ingredients from places like Sicily, Italy, where they get their pistachios, and Piedmont in Italy, where they find their hazelnuts.

Fast forward to today, 10 years later, when their stores and their canary yellow trucks are popping up all around New York City and Los Angeles.

One of the most Instagrammable flavors from their menu is Planet Earth, which is a sky blue ice cream made with cashew and coconut base, matcha green tea cake made with Kettl Tea matcha, and topped off with colorful sprinkles.

The Vegan Passionfruit is a special flavor the shop created in honor of its 10-year anniversary. This colorful flavor has a coconut, cashew, and cocoa butter vegan base, and chunks of pastel almond and vegan matcha cakes.

Not so basic ice cream sandwiches

Van Leeuwen also serves a fun spin on the classic ice cream sandwich. This comes in vegan and non-vegan flavors but you’ll want to try it with the Hot Brooklyn Summer scoop. Mike’s Hot Honey and Van Leeuwen collaborated on this flavor, which is the perfect blend of spicy and sweet caramel, a swirl of homemade mulberry jam, and pieces of gluten-free corn cake.

Or try the Gianduja X flavor, one of the first flavors Van Leeuwen ever made.

“This is a very Van Leeuwen flavor in that it’s only made with exceptional ingredients,” Van Leeuwen said. "It’s made with Piedmont hazelnuts, chocolate chips, and white chocolate swirl."

PHOTO: Van Leeuwens spin on a classic ice cream sandwich.ABC News
Van Leeuwen's spin on a classic ice cream sandwich.

All of these special flavors and more are available throughout the summer at Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream locations in New York City and Los Angeles.

Comments