Neil Young once wrote that only love can break your heart. He probably isn’t much of an ice cream person — because if you’ve ever struck your spoon into a pint of cookies-n-cream only to find you’ve got all the cream and no cookie, you know that ice cream can break your heart along with the best of them.
Thankfully, Dre’s Desserts isn’t the heartbreaking kind. Founded three years ago by Andre Olivier, the Brooklyn-based, door-to-door homemade ice cream delivery company isn’t stingy with its mix-ins. The Lords Red Velvet has large hunks of the cake — with frosting — from Lords bakery in Flatbush; they’re the size of ice cubes and thick as focaccia, and there are plenty of them. The proportion of sweet cream base to burgundy croutons is just right. Same goes for the Cookie Monster, which boasts three different types of Oreos and is bright blue to match its Muppet inspiration. In either instance, the ice cream itself avoids iciness, another breakup-worthy offense. It’s perfectly creamy and that creaminess holds up in the freezer, even after multiple visits.
Olivier began making these and other pints at home in his Flatbush kitchen in June of 2020 in which he developed small batch flavors — and developed a cult following — in between full-time work and coaching youth football on the side.
Bronx-born and Brooklyn-raised, the self-taught cook has a life-long history with ice cream. His royal nickname, King of Desserts, was given to him by his close-knit family, who noticed his preference for the sweeter things early on. He mentions the milkshake set he asked his parents for as a kid one Christmas, an Oreo-branded kit that included a recipe for the classic cookies-and-cream shake.
At first, the siblings spent time making ice cream together for their family. Then, Olivier started making it just for himself because, he says, “I just like eating ice cream. I like it a little bit too much.” He began making it for his friends, too, and took to hitting up different ice cream shops around the city, “just enjoying having love for desserts.”
Olivier, who has another full professional life as a project manager in construction, decided to turn his hobby into a business during the pandemic when work was slow, and people were stuck at home and seeking comfort from food. But he didn’t need an excuse to launch his side gig.
He’s genetically predisposed to entrepreneurship; it’s the family way and Olivier traces it back to his grandfather, who was a scientist back in Trinidad; when his degree somehow didn’t count in the states, he ended up starting over and ended up founding own realty company. Olivier’s father is a full-time actuary, but that didn’t stop him from opening an apparel shop in Harlem in the mid-late aughts. Then there’s his older brother, who works in the restaurant industry, and designs jewelry.
It’s just about making the time — the time, Olivier explains in reference to his side business. And his engineering background, he says, helps him in making his product. “I like creating the formulas for the ice cream, so it’s consistent every time I make it,” he says.
A flavor usually starts with an item from his personal history, like the bagels with cream cheese and grape or strawberry jelly he used to eat for breakfast before school. He’ll know he’s achieved success if he can produce an ice cream that takes him back to those childhood mornings by invoking that taste memory. This recipe was a challenge on the texture front; he wanted cream cheese in the base itself, but it’s thick and lumpy. Initial trials yielded clumps, so he continued to tweak — figuring out how much of the cream cheese he could blend into his base, and how to achieve complete incorporation.
“I just pretty much just keep sieving it until the cream cheese basically disintegrates completely,” he explains. It’s a bagel-less, jam-marbled triumph and anyone who loves cream cheese, or cheesecake for that matter, will recognize it.
Three years in, demand has slowed to a manageable tempo. Olivier hasn’t done much to court more media coverage or new customers on his own. Sure, he could succumb to the pressure of so many of his peers and try to come up with the next viral creation — an outrageous flavor or invention (inside-out ice cream cones, anyone? ) But for now, he’s content with the pace of things. On busier weeks, he rents kitchen space by the hour from CloudKitchens in Brooklyn where he has access to larger-scale professional equipment he doesn’t have at home.
The majority of his regulars, he says, are in Queens — Long Island City and Sunnyside, a few in the Bronx. Come fall, he’ll be back to coaching kids’ football. And don’t forget the man’s got a whole other career, complete with day job.
One day soon, though, he plans to open a scoop shop. Until then, if you’re trying to lose the down you’ve found (or are simply craving ice cream), Dre’s Desserts makes house calls to Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Bronx on weekends. And it will never break your heart.