People Moving Product

Made with care in small batches

Dirk launches ChunkChunk Ice Cream dessert line

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HOPKINS, Minn. — Kristy Dirk has seen a little boy jumping up and down while eating her ice cream.

“I’m like, ‘OK, he needs to be our spokesperson,’” Dirk said. “Can we just get him on camera taking a bite?”

Dirk, a pastry chef and former restaurant owner, has launched her own frozen dessert business, ChunkChunk Ice Cream. She is assisted by her daughter, Addie Gigerich.

ChunkChunk Ice Cream sells individually wrapped ice cream sandwiches and bars made in small batches.

“They’re all made with lots of love and care,” Dirk said. “It’s really all about getting the best. They (are) just like what I would want to feed my own family.”

ChunkChunk Ice Cream made its first delivery of ice cream Dec. 2, 2022. It is sold at 10 stores and restaurants as well as at festivals that Dirk and Gigerich attend.

Dirk’s professional career includes 13 years of experience as a pastry chef in the Twin Cities. Her first job out of culinary school was to develop an ice cream program for a restaurant.

“I’ve always loved making ice cream, and so, this is just sort of a dream of mine,” Dirk said. “It sort of puts together my love of making ice cream and cake.”

Dirk also owned a restaurant for several years.

“This is my way of still ... feeding people and feeding people dessert because I love doing that,” Dirk said.

ChunkChunk Ice Cream sells five ice cream sandwiches and four ice cream bars. Its best-seller is the chocolate salted caramel ice cream sandwich. The dessert features chocolate, cake-like cookies textured with chocolate chips and salted caramel ice cream with malted crunch around the edge.

Dirk said she likes to make her cookies soft, so they are easy to bite through without the ice cream escaping over the edges.

Dirk sources her ingredients locally. Her flour comes from Baker’s Field Flour & Bread, which is a Minneapolis-based company. She purchases her eggs from Larry Schultz Organic Farm in Owatonna. Dirk buys milk and heavy cream from Kalona Creamery in Kalona, Iowa.

“It’s really awesome,” Dirk said. “It’s cool to have it be traceable, right back to the farmers who are helping us do all this and do it well.”

Dirk’s grandparents grew up on farms in North Dakota. Dirk said she remembers her grandma making some of the best pies and custards with farm-fresh cream.

“This feels as close as I can get to that without being my own farm and pasteurizing,” Dirk said.

Dirk does not use artificial colors or flavors.

“It’s a delicious, flavorful treat,” Dirk said. “People feel good about it, because it’s real. It’s all real.”

In a week that Dirk is making ice cream, she uses approximately 12 gallons of milk and 36 quarts of cream. Dirk makes a batch of ice cream and then uses it in the ice cream sandwiches and bars for a few weeks and then makes another batch for the next group of sandwiches and bars.

The maximum batch of ice cream Dirk makes is about 4 gallons. When she makes ice cream sandwiches, she makes about 50 sandwiches per batch.

Dirk makes her desserts from a kitchen in the Hopkins Activity Center. Freezer space is limited there, which curbs the amount of inventory Dirk can make.

Dirk said she likes that her desserts are more portable than they were when she worked in a restaurant.

“I’ve loved the way it’s just this little package of dessert that you can eat with one hand,” Dirk said. “It makes me feel happy.”

Dirk’s chocolate caramel pretzel ice cream bars were featured in the Star Tribune food section in July 2023.

The bars feature chocolate souffle cake, pretzel crunch, fudge sauce and salted caramel ice cream all rolled up, sliced and dipped in chocolate.

Dirk said she likes the salty-sweet flavor combination. All the crunches used have at least some salt.

“I like a little bit of salty in the crunches because it just a nice balance for your tastebuds,” Dirk said. “You don’t feel that sugar overload when you eat it.”

Dirk said she gets her inspiration to create her desserts from what she likes and what others like and then gives it her own twist.

 For example, her dad likes maple walnut ice cream, so she created her sea salt maple caramel ice cream sandwich for him.

“There’s 100 more ideas in our heads over here, but we have to wait,” Dirk said. “We have to focus on what we’ve got.”

Dirk said she is focused on growth and getting people to try her desserts. Next year, she said she hopes to attend more events. Dirk said she has to be careful with growth because they are a small company making small batches; quality is No. 1 for her.

“I love doing this,” Dirk said. “I don’t mind working late or working longer. I love it. It’s fun.”

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