Vegan ice cream is one of those things that’s either a major hit or a total miss. When done poorly, it’s often too icy, overly coconuty, or altogether a pale imitation of the real deal. When done right, however, it’s a smooth, creamy indulgence that licks just as beautifully as its dairy-containing counterparts, if not better.
The Chocolate Studio did it right.
In case you’re not familiar with The Chocolate Studio, the Hudson Valley sweet shop is a Main Street mainstay owned by sisters Regina Furphy and Anne St. George. A bubbly candy store filled with rich chocolates and the sisters’ signature Gourmetibles cookie-candy hybrids, it also stocks locally made Moo Moo’s Creamery ice cream and…wait for it…vegan ice cream prepared in-house.
Vegan ice cream is an unexpected endeavor for the Beacon studio, which never considered it until request after request poured in from visitors on hot summer days. As St. George describes it, the situation got to a point where eight out of 10 passersby would ask for the non-dairy treat. Not knowing what to do, St. George turned to Chante Tenoso, the studio’s birthday party organizer and cookie maker, during the summer of 2019. A creative by nature, Tenoso committed to find a way to make vegan ice cream — and deliciously, too.
“I’ve always been into using the kitchen like a lab,” Tenoso explains.
After doing her research online, she stepped into the kitchen to test and test…and test again. During her initial experimentation, the first one didn’t solidify, while the next one was hard as a rock.
And then she hit gold.
Using homemade cashew milk, Tenoso tested and perfected flavors like chocolate fudgesicle, mocha chocolate chip, and carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. She makes everything by hand, from the milk in her base to the caramel and the brownies in her caramel brownie ice cream. For individuals with nut allergies, she also serves a rotating variety nut-free ice creams (cinnamon oatmeal raisin and chocolate fudgesicle, anyone?) that swap out cashew milk for oat milk.
Did we mention she’s not vegan?
“I just like to cook,” she smiles, adding that the requests from visitors are what prompted her to test recipes for vegan ice cream in the first place. After hitting her stride with her non-dairy bases, she diversified with recipes inspired by fan-favorite desserts. She got her cinnamon oatmeal raisin right on the first try and used kid-approved fudgesicle pops as the basis for her version of the treat. Currently, she offers an ever-changing variety of 26 vegan flavors, with at least six available to scoop and more packed in pints, to complement The Chocolate Studio’s roster of Moo Moo’s scoops.
When it comes to making ice cream, Tenoso begins with the milk. She prepares the cashew and oat milk in-house (“Oats do not want to be smooth,” she reveals), then gets to work to craft one micro-batch gallon at a time. Using only her four trusty KitchenAid mixer attachments, she crafts gallons in batches to scoop until each flavor runs out. Lately, that’s been happening more and more often.
Tenoso may have reached stardom with her vegan ice cream, which she’s dubbed The Vegan Stuff in ode to the ’80s horror film The Stuff, but she’s quite the whiz with vegan baking as well. At The Chocolate Studio, she’s in charge of the shop’s scrumptious vegan maple chocolate chip cookies (and CBD chocolates, for all you chocoholics out there). She relies upon almond flour as a base for her baked goods for the most part, although she switches over to a gluten-free flour mix whenever she prepares the cookies for her vegan ice cream sandwiches, which sell out almost instantly.
“Almond flour doesn’t like the freezer,” she reveals.
Tenoso’s success in the vegan dessert scene is inspiring, especially since it all started with a simple request from customers. Yet none of it would be possible without her innate curiosity and perseverance. With each new challenge that crosses her path (vegan ice cream and cookies, for instance) her response is simple:
“I can do that.”
Something of a life motto for Tenoso, her “can do” attitude is what motivated her to take up a position with The Chocolate Studio after relocating to Beacon with her daughter and leaving a full-time career in fashion in New York City. It’s also what powers her to problem-solve in the community, offering solutions for The Chocolate Studio’s lack of vegan ice cream and Végétalien’s need for healthy-ish treats (she’s supplied vegan cookies to Beacon’s plant-based café).
Outside of the kitchen, she keeps the creativity going by helping locals and enriching the community with events like the Zombie Outbreak, a family friendly happening she brought with her from NYC.
“It’s in the lull between Halloween and Thanksgiving,” she says of the undead event she planned in town in November 2019. Throughout the day, locals donned their spookiest, silliest garb to haunt Main Street. Afterward, attendees were free to stick around for costume awards and a meal at participating eateries in town.
It’s all quite a lot for one person, but Tenoso is happy to keep doing her thing. She loves the feedback she’s been getting on her vegan ice cream and looks forward to creating new flavors and expanding production even further. She won’t reveal what flavor is next on her list, although she does provide delicious hints on Instagram.
Which flavor will you try first?
The Chocolate Studio
496 Main St, Beacon