For 17-year-old Grace Connor, eating ice cream is basically a family tradition. Her mom would take her out for ice cream after lunch when they spent summers in Nantucket, and her grandmother even served her ice cream for breakfast. Now, Connor is the one treating her family to ice cream, asking them to try out new batches of her homemade desserts.
Through her business, little g ice cream co., Connor sells her concoctions at Bee’s Knees in Allston, Siena Farms in the South End, and Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge. Earlier this week she released little g’s special summer flavors: strawberry shortcake, a vanilla bean ice cream with pound cake chunks and a strawberry compote swirl; iced white chocolate mocha latte; sea salt fudge chunk; and snack attack, a vanilla bean ice cream with pretzels, potato chips, butter crackers, peanut butter cups, and candy coated chocolates. She also stocks staples like triple cookie dough and very vanilla bean all year round.
“I just try everything with flavors. All the time I’m thinking of new flavors,” Connor said. “And I think of flavors I’ve had before, like strawberry shortcake. When I was little, my dad would make [strawberry shortcake]… and it was nothing fancy, but it was the best thing ever.”
Connor started baking when she was about 5 years old, and it was a natural transition to try her hand at ice cream—she got her first ice cream maker when she was 8. She cares about quality and using local ingredients, and said she couldn’t really find what she wanted in the freezer section.
“I tried a lot of premium ice cream with crazy flavors I never even heard of,” Connor said, “and I thought, ‘Why can’t I just get a cookie dough ice cream made with local ingredients?’”
So Connor made her own. She had already turned her passion for baking into a business, selling treats around town, but she had to sell her homemade cookies the same day for them to be at their best, she said. Instead, she started incorporating those baked goods into her ice cream recipes and handing out samples to friends and family.
Now Connor makes her ice cream out of Commonwealth Kitchen in Dorchester. Though she has her own ice cream machine at home, the shared kitchen space lets her have access to more professional equipment, as well as a designated area so she isn’t overcrowding her mom’s kitchen.
Connor had to apply for a spot and got in last July; she sweetened her pitch with samples of maple oatmeal cookie dough and brown butter candy pecan ice cream. She is adamant about doing everything herself, from making her own ice cream base out of local milk to baking, not buying, all of the mix-ins that make up her special flavors. Connor even hand-delivered the first batch of pints to Siena Farms in the middle of a snowstorm this past January.
“It wasn’t the best timing, but it was a good way to learn,” she said.
Next year, Connor will be a senior at Milton Academy, but she assures she can keep her business alive because she’s “very efficient” when it comes to finishing her homework and getting into the kitchen.
She hopes to expand her business and bring little g to more specialty stores and even bigger chains, like Whole Foods. Connor is also testing out nationwide shipping so anyone would be able to go to her website and order her creations. (little g currently delivers within the greater Boston area.) In the meantime, Connor will spend her time creating even more flavors, which her supportive parents will happily taste test.