My Queer Kitchen
16 min

A gorgeous queer memory emerges from the Moon Mists of time

This colourful ice cream inspires chef Jennifer E. Crawford’s necessary flights of fancy

moon mist queer ice cream
Credit: Jennifer E. Crawford

Moon Mist ice cream is a highly Instagrammable beauty—the gorgeous pastels embracing each other in an unctuous threesome of banana, grape and bubblegum. Its style is timeless because of an enduring commitment to itself. Moon Mist existed well before folks knew how to take selfies, find the perfect backdrop or use portrait mode. In an era when so many delicacies are designed to be clickable, likeable, built with potential to go viral, Moon Mist’s enduring legacy is that it doesn’t give one single heck about that stuff. It wasn’t created for internet fame (though it’s certainly deserving); it was created for the pure sake of ephemeral pleasure and delight.

I love Moon Mist ice cream. I love the taste, I love the aesthetic, I love the chaos, I love its queerness. Yes, queerness! You either love it or don’t know what it is yet—there are few in-betweens. A regional delight on the East Coast, it was born, like me, in the early ’80s. Its flavour is singular and unmistakable, but also completely unidentifiable on the palate unless you know what you’re looking for. I didn’t care to figure it out as a kid. That wasn’t the point. Moon Mist was—and remains— pure wonder in a cone; Neapolitan’s stylish, steadfastly queer distant cousin.

Moon Mist exists to be fabulous for the sake of itself; out of this world, flamboyant. There is no pretension, there is no terroir, there is no apology. In the words of the singularly bold Quentin Crisp: “Style is deciding who you are and being able to perpetuate it.” In short: Moon Mist is as stylish as they come.

Can an ice cream be queer if a queer person names it so? Do I need permission? Do I care? Moon Mist and I are about the same age—I didn’t become queer until my late 20s, after all. I’m not someone who always knew what I was, I wasn’t born this way. Maybe Moon Mist wasn’t born queer either; who’s to say things haven’t changed? When anything (food included) gets adopted into the realm of the “nostalgic,” it risks getting subsumed in society’s default heterocentric imagination unless it’s specifically stated otherwise. So here I am, to state otherwise—just in case. I know how deflating it is to be perpetually misread!

For me, there were a zillion forces of delight and change and passion that thankfully altered my heart and libido over time. These forces shifted the tectonic plates of desire, rupturing the surface and changing my world entirely. I recently tried to gently explain this most welcome change to a popular lesbian influencer couple on Instagram after their post insisting that queers are only born, not made. “Wow, we have never heard of that before!” they exclaimed as I described my queer metamorphosis. But I know I’m not the only one, and I think these stories of change are important. I wish I’d heard more of them; it might have made my path a little easier.  Having Moon Mist on this meandering queer journey was always a comfort. No one really understood that flavour and how it worked, either, but there it was—unapologetically itself. It was a constant soothing reminder that people don’t see us as we are, but as they are.

Desire is melty, exciting, messy, confusing, delicious. It drips down my arm and off my elbow as I dig in. I welcome the mess; that’s half the fun.

Some people cite nostalgia as Moon Mist’s main attraction, but not me. In order to wistfully long for a happy memory, that idyllic past needs to have existed in the first place. Queer folks may not have these warm childhood memories; there’s too much confusion, isolation. Our pasts, whether individual or collective, need to be reclaimed, rebuilt. That’s what ties me to Moon Mist as a muse of sorts. The draw for me is its queer excellence: It allows me to create those missing joyful moments now, in real time. I’m filling in the gaps where those fond associations might have existed, had things been different.

Moon Mist has shunned all constraints and rules and common sense for decades, winning hearts not in spite, but because of it’s absurd harmony—a testament to doubling down on what you know to be true for yourself. It tastes like a lot of things, but the note that always brings me queer joy is that little hit of freedom on the finish. Please accept this offering of a no-churn Moon Mist ice cream recipe so that we can taste it, together.

Does making ice cream sound intimidating? It’s not, really. Join Jennifer E. Crawford…, er, intergalactic ice cream scooper Moon Miss as they whip up a batch of this creative beauty in our latest video installment of My Queer Kitchen.

No-churn Moon Mist Ice Cream

This no-churn ice cream is a breeze to whip up (literally and figuratively). This recipe is adapted from the Food Network Kitchen’s no-churn vanilla ice cream recipe, which is a lovely base flavour for experimenting with no-churn ice cream at home. Once you’ve mastered Moon Mist, you can try your hand at mix-ins, ribbons or whatever your palate can dream up!

Turning looks in a manicured hand. Credit: Jennifer E. Crawford

Ingredients

2 cups cold whipping cream
1 can (300ml) sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp kosher salt
2 drops each of banana flavouring and yellow food colouring
2 drops each of grape flavouring and purple food colouring
2 drops each of bubblegum flavouring and blue food colouring
(I used LorAnn flavouring oils, readily available at most bulk food stores)

Equipment

Loaf pan for freezing (around 9” x 4” x 3”)

Method

1. Put loaf pan into the freezer to chill
2. In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment (or with a hand mixer), whip the cream with the salt into stiff peaks
3. Put sweetened condensed milk into a large bowl. With a spatula, fold ⅓ of the whipped cream into the sweetened condensed milk until uniform
4. Add the remaining whipped cream, folding gently until the mixture is uniform
5. Divide equally into 3 bowls. Season with the flavourings and their associated food colouring. Mix gently until uniform
6. Retrieve loaf pan from the freezer. With a large tablespoon or ladle, spoon the three colours into the loaf pan, alternating every spoonful so that the colours are evenly distributed. Drag a spatula through the cream mixture to even things out and create a feathered pattern among the colours.
7. Freeze for a minimum of 6 hours before scooping and serving. Enjoy!