Frankie & Jo’s is everything you love about ice cream, without the dairy

A simple scoop of ice cream has the power to recall memories and evoke the deepest emotion.

“Ice cream is traditional. We celebrate with ice cream,” said Autumn Martin, founder of Frankie & Jo’s. “It’s on our birthdays. It’s on our birthdays…and the celebrations, they go deep into our souls too.”

At Frankie and Jo’s is a Seattle-based ice cream company. It’s everything you love about ice cream, but without the dairy – all of their ice cream is vegan, gluten-free and delicious.

Pastry chef, chocolatier and founder of Ballard’s favorite Hot Cakes, Martin describes ice cream as her family’s love language. But when she found out she had a dairy allergy, Martin found herself unable to enjoy her favorite treat.

“I missed eating ice cream. I missed eating good ice cream,” Martin said. “And then, back then, being dairy-free, I saw so many other people like me out there without some sort of home.

In late 2015, after several years of dreaming and testing recipes, Martin teamed up with Kari Brunson, then owner of the plant-based Juicebox Cafe, to launch Frankie & Jo’s.

“We make plant-based, vegan ice cream. We’re gluten-free. We really are an ice cream shop for everyone. We built this place for everyone to come and enjoy ice cream,” Martin said.

Frankie & Jo’s ice cream is available at West Coast grocery stores, via nationwide delivery, and at scoop stores in Ballard, Capitol Hill, and University Village. For Martin and Brunson, making ice cream that satisfies while staying true to their vision has been a journey.

“Our process has evolved from the first ice creams I developed,” Martin said. “Nut milk should be homemade. It should be freshly made […] Emulsification must play an important role [of the process] if you do not use stabilizers and gums. We’ve grown so much since then.”

“And we keep tweaking. We keep getting better. We will constantly do that to make [our ice cream] better and better for our customers,” said Brunson.

Part of this constant evolution is creating new flavors, a process that begins months in advance.

“A flavor might take ten iterations. It might take 15. It might take three. It depends on the complexity of the profile,” Martin said.

“Our Supercookies & Cream, I think we did 14 or 15 tests. Probably even more than that, but we tasted 14 to 15,” Brunson said.

Before a new ice cream is packaged in pints or served in a scoop shop, it must get the green light from Frankie & Jo’s taste panel.

During my visit to the Scoop Shop in the University Village, Martin, Brunson and Executive Chef Lisa Nakamura let me in on the fun, as we tested out some seasonal Fall 2022 offerings. My favorite? Summer Harvest Cake, a roasted cashew and coconut ice cream sprinkled with pieces of decadent chocolate cake made with a surprising secret ingredient: eggplant.

Yes, at Frankie & Jo’s, ice cream is sometimes a delicious vehicle for veggies, but the real sign of flavor perfection is often decidedly simpler.

“My God, for me personally, I come to know“, Martin said. “You know when it hits that memory inside your body. It’s like oh, that’s it.”

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