Instagram darling Soft Swerve, a Lower East Side ice cream parlor serving creamy soft serve in Asian-inspired flavors, is introducing a seasonal flavor to woo PSL lovers this Friday.
“Many other shops are doing pumpkin spice,” co-owner Jason Liu said. “We thought we could do something more versatile.”
Liu and his business partner, Michael Tsang, aren’t using the jack-o’-lantern-type gourds: They’re making their Japanese Pumpkin ice cream with kabocha, a winter squash with a sweet and nutty flavor.
“It’s always been a vegetable our parents cooked with,” said Liu, whose friendship with Tsang dates to their childhood in Chinatown. Their families use the squash in soups, he explained.
In the process of developing the recipes for their seasonal flavor, the ice cream purveyors experimented with common pumpkins but found kabocha was silkier when cooked, pureed and blended with milk.
The result of their R&D is sweet, but not overpoweringly so, Liu said.
Is it as eye-catching and Instagrammable as Soft Swerve’s best-selling ube, or purple yam, flavor?
“Unfortunately the color is what is — that’s what the meat of pumpkin comes down to,” Liu admitted. “It’s not as brilliant as the purple hue, but it still goes well with the contrast of the black cones.”
He recommends topping a swirl with toasted almonds, to accentuate the nuttiness, or Fruity Pebbles, to sweeten it.
Japanese Pumpkin isn’t Soft Swerve’s first limited-time flavor: the most recent was cold-brew coffee, a brief collaboration with the Vietnamese restaurant Madame Vo; other past options include lychee and almond cookie.
Cups and cones at the shop at 85 B Allen St. start at $3.99. Japanese Pumpkin will be available through Nov. 2.