Cooling Off at Great Falls Creamery

Cooling Off at Great Falls Creamery

Patty and Gary McKeown

Patty and Gary McKeown Photo contributed

When temperatures hit the 90s, folks find the best and fastest ways to cool off. Somewhere on the list must be ice cream, though its fix is shortlived. But how sweet it is to cool down with a cone, cup or shake.

For residents in or near Great Falls, the ideal answer for that cool-off is a quick trip to Great Falls Creamery, smack dab in the center of town—Great Falls, that is. Set back from the main roads in a small business complex called The Village Center, this family-owned and family-run shop features 22 different flavors churned out from an ice cream manufacturer, called ironically, Great Falls Ice Cream.

But as it turns out, the company earned its name. Some 20 years ago it started out as a small shop known as Great Falls Ice Cream in the center of Great Falls, where the owners hand-cranked each flavor. Not surprisingly, its ice cream quality caught on as more and more restaurants, ice cream stores, and hotels began offering the ice creams to their clients. As the business grew, the owners moved their company to Maryland, but state boldly on their website that they still hand-make their product.

And that leads to the opening two years ago of the icy destination, Great Falls Creamery. “We opened on June 27, 2014, almost 2 years now,” said owner Gary McKeown, who with his wife, Patty, oversee the creamery. “It was something that our youngest son wanted to do. It was his idea. He was looking for an investor and someone to help run it because he has a landscaping business.” But his son got too busy to manage both businesses, so the McKeowns decided to take it on.

The result? Tremendous support and business from the Great Falls community. “I can’t think of an adjective to describe what we have gotten from the community,” he said, “and that has spread out to local nearby towns.” The draw, of course, is the quality product, from breads and eggs to ice cream.

And in summertime, who can turn down an ice cream treat? Among the 22 flavors—not all of which are available every day—are French or Tahitian vanilla bean, chocolate Oreo, salted caramel, espresso chip and caramel Twix, plus sorbets, such as mango and coconut. McKeown said that there is no typical or regular favorite, but he added, “We can’t keep just plain chocolate in the shop,” he said. “We now get several different varieties: chocolate-chocolate, chocolate-peanut butter, rocky road, and bittersweet chocolate, which is vanilla with shavings of chocolate.”

Besides ice cream, the couple sell high-end baked goods from Heidelberg Bakery and dairy products from Trickling Springs dairy farm in Pennsylvania, a range of goods that includes heavy cream, whole milk, half-and-half, and 2 percent milk.

Fortunately for locals, the couple really enjoys what they are offering the community, but besides the delicious foods, they also make generous donations of proceeds and product to numerous local groups, from schools to baseball teams to veterans.

Great Falls Creamery, 766 Walker Road, Great Falls. 703-272-7609. Hours: Open daily year round except for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Grandma’s Schwartzwald Kirsch Torte (Black Forest Cake)

Serves 6 to 8

Prepare three 9-inch chocolate cakes, using your favorite personal or commercial box recipe. Set aside to cool.

Whip 2 quarts of heavy cream, and while beating, slowly add 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, or if you prefer, add 2 shots of Kirschwasser Schnapps.

Continue beating the cream until stiff.

On a cake plate, lay the first layer of the cake, and top with some whipped cream.

Add fresh, pitted Bing cherries, or thawed frozen ones, around the top in a concentric circle. Repeat for the remaining two layers.

Grate 4 squares of semi-sweet chocolate over the top and sides of the cake; refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.