What will you create? Munch Ice Cream and Snack Lab offers countless flavor combos

Published 6:45 am Saturday, May 4, 2019

You are about to enter an ice cream shop. An ice cream shop not only of flavor and variety, but of creativity; a journey into a wondrous land of imagination.

I submit to you, the reader, a three-scoop ice cream sundae. It appears to be two scoops of vanilla accompanied by one scoop of chocolate. But, looks are deceiving. Those scoops of “vanilla” are actually tequila cream and birthday cake, while that “chocolate” is really amaretto. But what’s more are the toppings.

You have your nuts, strawberries and whipped cream accompanied by a drizzle of caramel. Surely they are standard ice cream sundae toppings, but what’s this? Gummy bears? Cereal? Hot Cheetos?!?! On an ice cream sundae? Surely, it is the creation of an unhinged madman!

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Or, it is just one of the countless combinations visitors to Munch Ice Cream and Snack Lab can create from the deepest  depths of their imaginations. And that is exactly what husband and wife co-owners Israel and Mayra Gonzalez intended when they opened Munch in 2018.

“You’re welcome to try as many toppings; just use your imagination,” Mayra said.

Israel, who co-owns 1910 Fresh Mexican Kitchen in Austin, had the idea of an ice cream shop for a while, but did not want your standard run-of-the-mill shop.

“We thought, ‘why not let people create their own choice of treat,’” he said.

But before they could open an ice cream shop, they had to learn how to make ice cream.

Israel Gonzalez makes a crepe behind the counter at Munch Ice Cream and Snack Lab.

“I went to Mexico and was taught a way of doing ice cream by hand,” Israel said. “They also focused on sorbets.”

Next came the task of developing flavors, which Mayra researched as they traveled.

“I’m more on the sweet side; I love sweet stuff,” she said. “I like to try new flavors. Whenever we go somewhere new, I’m always looking for ice cream shops and when I find a flavor I like, I want to make it.”

With each different flavor came the challenge of trying to find the right texture, taste, and consistency to make it “scoopable.”

“It’s not easy,” Mayra said.

The same challenge holds true for the sorbets, made with the freshest fruit they can find.

“Every fruit presents a challenge,” Israel said. “Certain fruits have more fibers than others. Some are sweeter and have more sugars, so they kind of balance themselves. Some fruits are dry. Sorbets are really tough to make. The fruit you get, that’s what you’re going to taste. If you get something that’s ripe, it’ll have a certain profile, certain color, certain flavor, but if you get something that’s on the greener side, you’ll get something a little bland and acidic.”

To date, Mayra and Israel have developed approximately 30 flavors of ice cream and sorbet. A maximum of 16 flavors are sold at anytime, with flavor rotations of about two per week.

Ice cream and sorbet flavors also vary by season. Mayra said they hope to have watermelon and cucumber in the spring, as well as a pumpkin cheesecake flavor in the fall.

To accompany any ice cream and sorbet, visitors have about 50 toppings and sauces to choose from, including traditional options like peanuts, hot fudge and whipped cream, to unusual choices, such as gummy frogs and hot sauce.

“We’ve lived in different states and different countries and picked different ideas and flavors from here and there and combined them,” Israel said. “We are bringing some Mexican flavors into the mix, like spiciness, sweet and sour type of acidic flavors and the chili powders, to introduce it here because we haven’t seen that much of it in Minnesota or the Midwest in general. We’re from Los Angeles and there is a lot of Latino influence there, but the farther north you get, you stop seeing that.”

“One guy ordered tequila cream ice cream with jalapeños, hot Cheetos and Oreo crumbs on top,” Mayra recalled with a laugh. “He was happy. His wife said, ‘Oh, you’re crazy,’ but this is a crazy concept. Why not get all of the toppings he wants?”

“It’s so nice to see the kids when they come in and see all of the toppings,” she added. “Their eyes light up; they are literally kids in a candy store.”

Find the rest of this story and more in the latest edition of Austin Living Magazine.

There is still plenty of time to submit your artwork for inclusion into Austin Expression, a part of the July-August edition of Austin Living. And if you are a car enthusiast, we’ve extended our deadline for submitting for one of three features to accompany the section. Email submissions for both the art and cars to  Eric Johnson at photodesk@austindailyherald.com