Dining

In My Kitchen: Sam Kopicko & Chia Basinger, Co-Owners, Sweet Action Ice Cream

July 2010

Home Economics Opening an ice cream shop meant translating homespun recipes to commercial success. As they opened Sweet Action, Kopicko and Basinger studied up on ingredients and techniques from Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Cookbook.

Sweet Tooth Kopicko, who swears she lives on sugar, keeps her candy stashes in glass jars. Her current fave? Red Australian licorice.

Ice Cream Cave On any given night, the couple's freezer holds about 10 Sweet Action pints. "We really don't get sick of it," Kopicko says. "We like to take the leftovers home to test it for quality. Plus, it doesn't hurt that it tastes good!"

When Sam Kopicko (right) and Chia Basinger moved from New York City to the Baker neighborhood three years ago, they encountered only one problem: The neighborhood lacked an ice cream shop. The couple, who had made ice cream at home for years, decided to remedy the situation by opening Sweet Action Ice Cream on South Broadway. Together, these creative geniuses turn out flavors—salted butterscotch, brown sugar with banana, baklava—that have Denver lining up for more.

Cooking staple Savory Spice Shop's Mt. Massive steak seasoning (a blend that includes honey powder, smoked hot paprika, and guajillo chiles) is a favorite of Basinger's. "It's the perfect mix of sweet and spicy," he says.

Fire up the Grill On the rare occasion that Kopicko and Basinger make dinner together (Tuesdays are their only free night), they love to grill burgers, corn, and green onions. "I wouldn't say I'm much of a cook," Basinger says. "But we like to experiment with new foods. Just like our flavors—anything is fair game."

Flavor Lab The duo keeps a collection of test tubes containing different extracts (pomegranate-molasses, rose water, almond) on the countertop. "We like to play around with these when we make recipes," Basinger says.

Make a List The couple keeps a list of ice cream flavors—some they've already made, and others that are still ideas—posted on a kitchen cabinet. "It's sort of our inspiration board; we like to scratch off the ones we've made," Kopicko says.

Spices Galore To keep spices organized (and out of the limited cabinet space), Basinger and Kopicko place them in magnetic containers that hang off a whiteboard. Influenced by ethnic ice cream shops in New York, the couple regularly adds new spices—such as alderwood smoked salt—to their dinners and to Sweet Action's lineup.

Colorado Peach Ice Cream
(Serves 4)

  • peaches:
  • 2 cups peaches, finely chopped
  • 1 ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ice cream base:
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • To add: 1 tablespoon peach liqueur (preferably Leopold Bros. Rocky Mountain Peach)

Allow the peaches to macerate in sugar and lemon juice for a minimum of two and a half hours, mixing every 30 minutes. While peaches are sitting, mix heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Drain peaches (do not use the juice in this recipe). Combine peaches and ice cream base, then pour into ice cream maker and churn. When ice cream has about three minutes left, pour peach liqueur into mixer and finish churning.

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