Last call: NJ creamery serves up ‘Xmas tree’ flavored ice cream
BLOOMFIELD — Christmas tree ice cream. Sounds interesting, right?
But it’s not just a flavor name. There is a creamery/sorbetteria that actually serves a gelato made with real bits of Christmas tree needles.
APEM, located at 870 Broad Street in Bloomfield, is a gelato and sorbet shop owned by Jersey native Alex Saneski and Jennifer Ko.
APEM combines experiences of Northern California seasonality, Japanese and Nordic minimalism, French culinary training, plus Jersey grit and sarcasm, according to its website.
This is the last weekend to try “Xmas Tree” flavored ice cream at the shop before it closes for the year (until they reopen in the spring).
According to Saneski, he uses Douglas Fir Christmas trees to make the ice cream flavor. He just snips off branches, then cooks the tips with milk and cream. It’s sort of like brewing a cup of tea, he said.
The Douglas fir tips are mixed in with the ice cream base which is made in-house.
"It tastes like pine if you can imagine that," Saneski said. He usually drinks a pine needle tea and it tastes similar, except it's creamy. But the aroma makes you feel like you're in a Christmas tree shop, he added.
How did he come up with the idea to use real pieces of Christmas trees in his ice cream?
“We just thought it would be something funny to do. Throughout the year, we make flavors with the same concept like Pandan leaves (a Southeast Asian leaf), Fig Leaf (from my backyard), and others like Kaffir Lime Leaf,” Saneski said.
So, why not Christmas tree needles?
APEM has been making Christmas Tree ice cream since they opened the shop in 2019. They make it twice a year: Now, during holiday weekends, and also in July during their “Christmas in July” weekend.
Besides Christmas Tree ice cream, other cool Christmas-inspired flavors available at the shop include:
Paige’s Crunch: cheesecake gelato with candied strawberries and Oreo crumbs
Apple Crème Brulee: lemon ice cream with pecan shortbread and salted caramel
Passionfruit Pavlova (Passionfruit custard with meringue.)
There is also Candy Cane Stracciatella and Sticky Figgy pudding. The pudding consists of figs soaked in port wine and spices with APEM’s own custard and salted caramel.
“Nio Burned Down the Christmas Tree” features caramelized Doug fir ice cream. An employee and Alex’s nephew, Nio burned the milk but it turned out super tasty so now it’s a flavor.
If citrus is your thing, then try Citrus Christmas Pavlova which is lemon ice cream, candied oranges, and meringue.
With so many Christmasy flavors to choose from, you’re sure to be in the holiday spirit this weekend while shopping, decorating, tree trimming, or just hanging out by the fireplace.
Jen Ursillo is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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