All Manya Honig wanted was a little bit of ice cream after dinner one night in the Crossroads. So, she did what anyone with a serious craving for vanilla ice cream has considered when they find their freezer empty of pints. In September 2014, she bought an ice cream mixer on eBay and registered an LLC with the state of Missouri.
“I wanted to provide something new to Kansas City that I didn’t see here,” Honig says.
Bee Sweet, her new ice cream company is set to unofficially debut at the Fahrenheit Valentine Ball (back of The Bauer, 115 West 18th Street) this Saturday from 8:30 p.m. to 12 a.m.
At the ball hosted by artist Peregrine Honig, (Manya’s elder sister), Bee Sweet will be featuring Heartbeet pops ($6, heart-shaped pops made with beet ginger cinnamon ice cream), push-up pops ($5, think of the classic treats from ice cream vans), and an Ese taco ($5). The Ese taco (based off a nickname for her younger sister Esther) is a nod to the Choco Taco made with a gluten-free waffle dipped in dark chocolate and filled with vanilla ice cream.
“I’m taking some nostalgic elements and making a version that is a little more gourmet,” Honig, 29, says.
The Westside Local (1663 Summit), where Honig is a front of the house manager, has her beet ice cream. But you’ll have to ask as it’s an off menu item for now.
“I like bitter flavors that complement full sweet flavors,” Honig says. “I have a blueberry hibiscus that’s really good and lemon goji berry where the berries reconstitute in the ice cream in a really interesting way.”
Honig puts flavor first, but she’s also conscious of how people are eating. She uses local and organic ingredients when possible. Honig, who has eaten gluten-free for six years, developed the recipe for her waffle cones with a mixture of tapioca, potato starch and rice flour. Her ice cream is also split fairly evenly between flavors made with coconut milk (which are dairy-free and vegan) and those made with Shatto milk.
“There’s a roundness with coconut milk that’s really satisfying. The coconut milk sherbet is my favorite, it does really well with fruits,” Honig says.
This week, she’s been working on a carrot halwa – a cardamom and ginger-laced homage to the Indian dessert and a Thai Iced Coffee ice cream made with chicory coffee and sweetened condensed milk. Those flavors are joining a lineup that already includes sage ice cream (Honig likens it to green tea) and buttermilk blueberry pancake ice cream with maple syrup ribbons.
“You eat the whole pint,” Honig says of her blueberry pancake ice cream. “You can eat it for breakfast because it’s a pancake.”
Her surname Honig (which translates from German to English as ‘honey,’) provided the inspiration for her business name and local honey is a key ingredient for her flavor creation prcoess. She’s experimenting with different flavor cores for her push-up pops like a jasmine tea honey flavor and vanilla bean with honey and lemon zest. She feels the honey core gives an almost “earthy caramel,” to the pops.
“As soon as someone has that ice cream bar in their hand, they’re eating it. And I’m driven by that happiness,” Honig says.
The pops and ice cream will eventually go into her ‘Bikescream,’ a modified bike cart that she’s planning to build this spring. Honig’s fiancée is Idris Raoufi, a founding member and the outreach coordinator for the 816 Bike Collective.
“Bicycles are a really big part of my life. I like being connected to people,” Honig says of her decision to build the cart.
Once it’s complete, she intends to wheel the cart to farmers’ markets and First Fridays this spring and summer.Eventually, she’s hoping to open her own ice cream parlor in the Longfellow, Hyde Park or Crossroads neighborhood. She’s also set to roll out a members only program through Bee Sweet’s website, where subscribers can get a monthly pint (or three) for a year. They’ll come in reusable glass jars as part of Honig’s push to focus on sustainability.
“My palate and passion is what I’m introducing to the market,” Honig says. “I love how there is so much left to explore with different flavors of waffle cones and ice cream.”