Many recall the childhood verse, I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! Originating from a 1920s song of the same title recorded by a band called Waring’s Pennsylvanians, it certainly has inspired children and adults alike to indulge in the cool, delicious treat.
With a passion that began as a child with her father and his old-fashioned, crank-turning ice-cream maker, Kerry Soraci, owner of I Scream Cakes in the Benton Park West neighborhood, also found inspiration in that familiar ode to ice cream. “It started out as just a cute play on words,” she laughs, “but it has grown into an extension of my cakes. Accidentally, I came up with the idea of scary, gory cakes—and it’s really very funny because you’ve got this scary, repulsive thing—yet it’s so delicious!”
But not every cake that Soraci designs has that Halloween feel. Sure, her dinosaurs and hockey-playing zombies are big hits, especially at a young boy’s birthday party, but she also can whip up the sweeter creatures of nature, including ponies, seahorses, puppies, a cat peeking out of a magic hat and flowers—like a pansy she recently created.
After attending Washington University’s School of Art, Soraci opened I Scream Cakes in May 2011. She sculpts her three-dimensional cakes with a candy clay that she makes from scratch with white chocolate, agave nectar and cherry flavoring. “It sort of tastes like a cherry Tootsie Roll,” she notes. “The candy clay is a lot like a fondant—I can shape it as I like. And after I started playing around with it, I learned that as it gets warmer, it gets softer and more gooey, and I found that I could almost paint with it, as well.” Although she will do the occasional smaller sheet cake, she is quick to point out that she doesn’t do the piping and a lot of the writing typically associated with that style of cake. “I went to art school—I did not go to cake-decorating school, so my cakes really aren’t traditional at all.”
When ordering a cake at I Scream Cakes, the process comes with lots of delicious choices. After determining a design, customers choose from either a yellow or chocolate gluten-free cake base. Then, Soraci explains, there are 12 flavors of homemade ice cream to pick from. “I sculpt the shape with the ice cream, which behaves much like a clay that you have to continuously put in and take out of the freezer,” she notes. “It’s definitely a more time-consuming process.” After the form is created, Soraci covers the cake with either a white or dark chocolate ganache, with the fine details made out of the candy clay.
While custom cakes are a large portion of I Scream Cakes, it’s her brightly colored, whimsical ice cream shop with a playground-like atmosphere on Cherokee Street that is the bulk of Soraci’s business. On a daily basis (except for Mondays when the shop is closed), you will find her standard flavors of All-Organic Vanilla Bean, Dark Chocolate (made with a dark Ecuadorian cocoa), Blueberry Cheesecake (with chunks of both homemade cheesecake and blueberry compote), Peanut Butter ’n Chocolate, Black and Tan (a chocolate-Guinness ice cream marbled with a brown-butter and malted-Bass Ale ice cream), Coconut Milk Peanut Butter ’n Chocolate Banana (made with vegan cocoa), and Orange Habanero Chocolate (infused with orange, cloves and habaneros, as well as organic candied orange peel), which she playfully describes as a back-and-forth experience, “Your mouth is cold, your mouth is hot, your mouth is cold…and so it goes!”
Even more creative, somewhat seasonal blends include Strawberry Lemon Basil, Pineapple Chile, Lavender Lemon Swirl, Coconut (including a burnt-caramel swirl from Kakao), Pear Saison (made with Pyrus Saison from 4 Hands Brewing Co. and a honey-almond swirl), Butter Pecan Ale (incorporating Ferguson Brewing Company’s Pecan Ale), Tastes Like Purple (featuring pineapple, mixed berries and coconut milk, infused with hibiscus, calendula and rose), Watermelon Ginger Sorbet, Coconut Milk Strawberry and Coconut Milk Mango Mojito.
“I really, really enjoy mixing and blending flavors!” Soraci says. “I think of it as a lot like painting—flavors and colors and which ones work well together and which ones work against each other. It’s the same kind of dynamic.”
And when it comes to ingredients, Soraci tries to keep everything as natural and real as possible, using organic dairy products, sugar and eggs—as well as organic fruits when she is able.
With novelty items like drumsticks, ice cream cupcakes and cups, and gluten-free cookie sandwiches, I Scream Cakes will be at Schlafly Farmers Market on Wednesdays this summer in a freezer-equipped truck that Soraci plans to convert into a neighborhood ice cream truck. “And we will have spontaneous, pop-up ice cream socials on the street,” she adds excitedly.
Naturally, this food writer will be listening for that truck’s bell!