Summer in Ontario brings certain sweets to mind, and to the delight of many, Jennifer Rashleigh and Jeff Brown have brought together two of the big ones: ice cream and fresh Ontario fruit.
For the last decade, the couple have been combining their experience in the culinary world with their passion for dessert and high-quality ingredients by making speciality chocolates and ice creams in their shop in Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood.
Every item in the Delight Chocolate and Ice Cream shop is handmade and thoughtfully crafted — high quality ingredients are sourced, including some local, and different options have been created for customers, like dairy-free.
The popular dairy-free ice cream was first inspired by Jennifer and Jeff’s daughter Greta, who began experiencing issues with lactose when she was six. They were then advised to take her off dairy. At this point, though, Greta was used to enjoying a big scoop of the chocolate ice cream at the shop every day after school. So naturally, they wanted to come up with an equally delicious dairy-free recipe that, after some trial and error, led to a coconut milk based chocolate ice cream that customers also quickly fell in love with.
“Several years later,” Jeff tells us, “we still offer our dairy-free chocolate ice cream along with several other dairy-free flavours, all of which continue to grow in popularity.” There’s a dairy-free chocolate peanut butter chip, a dairy-free wild blueberry & lemon, just to name a couple, and of course the dairy-free options with local fruit, like Ontario strawberry, and Niagara peaches & lavender.
Sourcing local is an important piece of the business for Jennifer and Jeff. Their seasonal fruit-based dairy-free ice creams are made with a fresh-fruit jam that’s used as the base to blend with the coconut milk. And the traditional ice cream (and the chocolate) uses dairy from Harmony Organic, as well as local eggs from Homestead Farm.
“As we started our chocolate business with a strong commitment to using only Organic and Fair Trade Chocolate, we wanted to mirror that social and environmental commitment to buying locally-produced goods,” Jeff explains. “At the time we found the ideal organization called Local Food Plus that had a strong commitment to sustainable farming practices and welfare of both farm workers and farm animals. Through this organization we were introduced to local farmers that we still work with today, such as Torrie Warner of Beamsville, where we get all of our stone fruits for our Niagara peaches and cream ice cream (available dairy-free) and our Niagara apricot ice cream, as well as Richardson’s farm in Dunville, where we get some of the best June strawberries in the province for our Ontario strawberry ice cream (also available dairy-free).”
They usually buy about 75 flats of strawberries a year, about 5 bushels of peaches, and a couple bushels of apricots.
“We have a great relationship dealing directly with our farm suppliers,” Jeff shares. “We have benefited from these relationship in that we now have a better understanding of the challenges that local farmers face.”
Having grown up in Grimsby, Jennifer was surrounded by local fruit and knows firsthand Niagara has some of the best; she also witnessed the disappearance of some local orchards, and thus understands the importance of supporting local.
“We also wanted to lower our carbon foot print in our business as much as possible, so going local seemed to make sense,” Jeff adds.
If you want to learn more about Delight Chocolate’s bright assortment of desserts, or where to find their dairy-free ice cream (which is at 8 retail locations in the GTA), be sure to check out their website: http://www.delightchocolate.ca/