Praline’s Own Made ice cream does not come with a warning label, but perhaps it should: “Once you’ve tasted this ice cream, you cannot go back to your old favorite.”
“We make it with love,” says Donna Torre, who, with her late husband, Joe, started Praline’s Own Made in 1984 in Wallingford. And love is what inspired Donna to plan a fundraiser to benefit Connecticut Children’s Medical Center this year during National Ice Cream Week. (Fun fact: Ronald Reagan proclaimed the first National Ice Cream Day in 1984, the same year Praline’s started making ice cream. A coincidence? Or was he inspired by a taste of Praline’s Chocolate Thunder?)
Love a Key Ingredient
Love is certainly a key ingredient of Praline’s—though it’s hard to separate it from the unbelievably creamy texture or mouthwatering taste of fresh fruits, nuts, and handmade candy that go into their various flavors. Unlike most ice cream makers, Praline’s does not purchase processed fruit puree but peels and cuts up their own fresh fruit. And for the flavors that include candy pieces, they actually make their own candy. For example, rather than buy cases of Coconut Mounds for one of their flavors, they make their own chocolate-coconut candy, then break it up and include it in their ice cream. That kind of obsession with quality comes from Joe Torre’s training as a chef at the Culinary Institute of America, one of the top cooking schools in the world. “When Joe died suddenly 14 years ago,” Donna says, “I swore we would never change our recipes.”
A Sign of Support
The decision to host a fundraiser this summer came from the confluence of two events: the first was a call from the Foundation asking whether Donna might be interested in supporting the hospital. Later that same day a friend sent her a photo of a girl who has been in and out of Connecticut Children’s with a serious illness. On leaving the hospital, the girl had asked her mother for some ice cream, and the photo showed her eating from a container of Praline’s ice cream.
“I just spoke with them today!” Donna had exclaimed to her friend. “It’s a sign! We’ve got to do this.”
And so they will, with four of Praline’s 11 independently owned stores donating 33 percent of their sales over four hours. To taste ice cream like no other – and to benefit patient care – visit a Praline’s Own Made near you for one of their upcoming events!