With food trailers on every corner and in every empty lot, it’s easy for Austinites to overlook how challenging preparing food in tight quarters can be. As part of Sweet Week, we took a closer look at three Austin dessert trailers — Churro Co., OMG! Cheesecakery, and The Science Cream — to find out how the sugary sweet magic happens and what we can expect next from each truck. (Spoiler: brick-and-mortar aspirations for all three.)
Churro Co. is the sticky sweet brainchild of David Martinez and Leo Mendoza, childhood friends from Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico, who wanted to pay homage to traditional Mexican street foods. The duo used their life savings to open the fried dough-focused trailer in 2014. Find the truck, and it’s amusingly named (e.g. Clint Eastwood) one-of-a-kind offerings and housemade sauces at 1620 East Riverside Drive. (Traditionalists, fear not: there are churros simply tossed in cinnamon sugar too.)
Co-owner David Martine divulged how those those crispy sweet sticks are made, the biggest obstacles, and what’s next.
Martinez: "It all starts with the dough. We make a pate choux base dough. Once the dough is rested, we are ready to put it through a special churro press where we extrude the churros into a fryer and are cooked until golden brown. Then comes the fun part. We toss the churros in any of our different sugar flavor combinations from cinnamon sugar to a chai spice base sugar, and finally add toppings with different jams and sauces we make in-house."
The difficulties — besides space and storage.
Martinez: "We always come across the challenge of trying to maintain the inside cool during the summer and warm during the winter. We make special arrangements during the summer and winter to ensure that our product remains top-notch during the resting periods, storage, etc."
Martinez: "We definitely have plans to expand in the not-so-distant future. Our goal is to eventually evolve into a brick and mortar that would allow us to bring Austin a few other things that we have been working on, including other pastries and savory dishes. Our main focus right now is getting our second truck running at another undisclosed location (for now) early next year. Once we get into the rhythm with our second truck, then we’ll be shifting focus to a possible third truck, and a brick and mortar."
Family owned and operated OMG! Cheesecakery is run out of a vintage 1972 Cortez Motorhome — the same type NASA used for shuttling astronauts to the launch pad during the Apollo program. The South Lamar truck has been baking up miniature cheesecakes in standout flavors like peanut butter and jelly for nearly three years.
Owner Dan Trevino shared what is takes to make the tiny dessert in a trailer, plus some unique special orders.
Trevino: "There are no water baths, springform pans, no slicing. We blind bake our graham cracker, butter, and sugar crust first, add the batter, then bake the cheesecake low and slow until perfectly baked."
The challenges—besides space and storage.
Trevino: "Temperature. The real key is to make sure your ingredients are at room temperature to get the smoothest batter as possible. This is not too hard in the warmer months inside the truck, but more of a challenge in the winter."
Trevino: "Espresso Nutella is our most popular flavored cheesecake, but our blueberry lavender, dulce de leche, and chai spice are very popular as well. For the winter, we will bring back eggnog and gingerbread."
The unusual special orders.
Trevino: "We’ve done a mango togarashi spice, that has a great sweet and spicy flavor, a chocolate haupia (Hawaiian coconut) cheesecake, and we always get requests for one of the more complex ones — maple bacon."
Trevino: "You may see a second trailer or truck in the first half of 2017. At a minimum, you will start seeing our product in retail. We have currently been testing out our product at Thom’s Market and hope to continue and expand that relationship with them and other shops across the city."
The Science Cream
When The Science Cream opened last fall, South Congress got its introduction to liquid nitrogen ice cream doled out from a truck. Today, the business’ two retrofitted shipping containers whip up innovative varieties like minted beets and pistachio oil, plus traditional vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate, and more. Get it piled on top of brownies, churros, crepes, or a doughnut, blended it into a milkshake, drowned in an affogato, or have it straight up. Find the trucks at 1511 South Congress Avenue and in the Midway Food Park.
We got the inside scoop from co-owner Pamela Vaca on the business’ origins, favorite flavors, and what’s ahead.
What happens when you mix one part science-hobbyist with a Bachelor of Business Administration with one part pastry-baking creative? The husband and wife duo of Pamela and Andy Vaca merged their passions, started making ice cream at home, and then launched The Science Cream.
Vaca: "The Science Cream’s ice cream is made fresh using liquid nitrogen, which is -321 degrees, and it freezes so fast that it eliminates the ice crystals from the ice cream which makes it creamier and smoother than traditional ones.
"The most challenging part about the process is using the right amount of liquid nitrogen. Using too much liquid nitrogen can over-freeze, yet if not enough is used, it will not have a nice scoop-shape ice cream ball."
Vaca: "A must-have is our Mexican chocolate, which is made with black cocoa and a hint of cinnamon. Another a very popular flavor is salted caramel, where our vanilla bean ice cream topped with caramel and sea salt. There are so many new flavors that we are bringing out especially with the holidays, pumpkin spice and eggnog."
"If everything goes well, we are working on having an actual brick and mortar next year and an additional trailer that could be more mobile."