Student team uses decomposing palm tree shells to make interesting ice cream

Written by Faiza Shaheen, CNN

Each year, students from Chapman University in the United States are given $3,000 from a wealth of donors to travel to Bolivia to oversee a world-renowned traditional ice cream factory.

This year, the student team ended up creating — yes, rather surprisingly — a bacon-scented goo instead of marshmallow.

Magdalena, Photo courtesy of Chapman University

This February, Chapman’s Baker Lab — as its been dubbed — will set sail from San Francisco in its new stable of ships, headed for the Bolivian coast. By employing 14 students, the program covers the cost of fuel, salaries and all other extras.

“This is really looking at not just ice cream, but also giving a native organization the power to really grow and become a research institution for their community,” said co-coach Jon Ioffe.

Daniel, Photo courtesy of Chapman University

Winning the Chapman Baker Lab Cup is considered a pinnacle of achievement for the team, who travel every year to Bolivia and work with other organizations such as Bolivian distilleries and hand-made ceramics, as well as using local acacia trees for the sweets.

“This year, what we were trying to do was really break out and show students that what we were doing in Bolivia, we could make it to the other side of the world,” said coach Vanessa Buchanan.

The team’s goal was to successfully conceive, design and then commercialize a new ice cream flavor entirely from a new coconut source. However, the apportioning of a handful of coconuts proved problematic, prompting the team to quickly develop their own mixture: just off dry peat — a dirty and potentially explosive form of peat — hidden inside a shell.

The team supplied about 10 different samples, says Buchanan, creating five different flavors, which the team tested on their instructor, Peter Kerkorian, an ice cream guru himself.

“The chocolate and sea salt were our finalists,” Buchanan said, adding that winning the competition was an “unexpected and a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

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