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Bésame Ice Cream Takes No Shortcuts When Making Their Signature Dessert

Bésame Ice Cream Takes No Shortcuts When Making Their Signature Dessert

How owners Sheena and Ben George put their love of ice cream into their very own sweet shop at Meanwhile Brewing

By Bryan C. Parker

In 2014, Sheena and Ben George moved their family to Nicaragua to pursue a life of missionary work. But while there, they stumbled into another calling — handmade ice cream. It may seem like a surprising jump, but to Sheena, these acts of service go hand in hand.

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“At our core we are hospitality people,” she says. “We love taking good care of people and bringing joy any way we can.” During their time in Nicaragua, the couple opened a small chain of ice cream shops called Kiss Me. Sheena says, “It’s a reminder of the sweetness on your lips of a first kiss experience with someone you are falling in love with.” In the jungles of Nicaragua, the family was falling in love with ice cream, as their number of stores grew to five. The couple would take groups to tour the factory that supplied their shops, and it became clear that nothing could compare to the smoothness of a fresh batch of fresh-spun ice cream straight out of the machine.

Photo by Kelly Phillips

The couple conceived a dream to return to the U.S. and open a shop where they would produce the ice cream on site and serve directly to customers — thus, Bésame was born, named with a nod to the couple’s first store, as the word translates to “kiss me” in Spanish. The shop opened on July 8, 2021, and quickly became a favorite of patrons visiting the Meanwhile Brewing premises in East Austin. With fresh brews from the taproom, barbeque from Distant Relatives, ice cream dessert from Bésame and a playground for the kids, Meanwhile has everything you could need for hours of entertainment.

The secrets to Bésame’s outstanding ice cream are simple: hard work and handmade ingredients.

“We make it fresh every day, and we don’t take shortcuts,” Sheena says. “If there’s a curd or jam in our ice cream, we make that ourselves.” Since the ice cream is made fresh every day, it doesn’t allow time for ice crystals to form, ensuring that the ice cream is always perfectly smooth.

Sheena and Ben George, owners of Bésame. Photo by Shelby Sorrel.

To Sheena, the perfect ice cream is dense, with a high fat content that adds an almost chewy, voluminous texture. At Bésame, you’ll find complex flavors that balance sweet and savory notes by using mix-ins to create a fully composed dessert rather than just a single scoop of flavor.

“We put in the extra work to add sauces, caramels, chunks and bits,” Sheena says. Though the base is always creamy, flavors also contain a bright burst of flavor, like lemon curd, or a savory crunch, like pretzel. A self-taught pastry chef, Sheena loves experimenting with flavor and coming up with ideas — she finds the process just as rewarding as the final creation.

“I spend a lot of time in R&D: research and dreaming,” she quips. “I look for inspiration everywhere, from childhood favorites, to classic desserts, to the newest pastry trends, to inspiring ingredients.” For example, for one batch, she recently tried coriander as a complement to blueberry to accentuate its flavor. She also found that chamomile tea had a similar effect in a batch of strawberry bubblegum ice cream, making the strawberry even more pronounced and fresh.

Photo by Shelby Sorrel

Bésame also welcomes collaborations with other passionate food lovers. Working on their first-ever collaboration with The Hungry Dollar (aka Hauck), a content creator and food blogger, yielded one of Sheena’s all-time favorite flavors — Smoked Peach. Starting with a sweet cream base, Bésame added an incredible jam made from peaches smoked by Hauck. They leaned fully into southern comfort food by including gooey peach cobbler chunks. Sheena says she immediately fell in love with the flavor’s texture and the way it hit every taste bud with a balance of sweet and savory.

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“It’s a surprisingly elevated summer peach and barbeque combination,” she says. The shop has done nine different collaborations since opening and has more planned for the future.

Bésame’s deep passion for ice cream translates to good things for their patrons. You can bet on Sheena and Ben always striving to create something fresh and exciting to share with fellow ice cream lovers. After all, that’s what real romance is all about — keeping things exciting with a fun new idea or an unexpected kiss.