Though the New York Times may disagree, we’re firm believers that there are few things more festive, summery, and perfectly sweet than an ice cream sundae. No matter your ice cream identity, whether you choose to top your scoops with sprinkles and hot fudge, or with fruit and whipped cream, or any other combination, it’s hard to deny the pleasure of digging into a big sundae, with or without another’s spoon next to yours. But there are more options than just the well-worn classics, so we’re providing you with some additional options, from ice cream flavors themselves (homemade!), to textural toppings, and decadent sauces drizzled over.
The ice cream
So, of course, you’ve got to start with the base: your ice cream. You can always start with vanilla, and we’ve got homemade options with or without an ice cream maker. The luscious, mild flavor is perfect for building a sundae, although chocolate is pretty hard to beat as are strawberry and coffee. But, if you’re in the mood for something a little more esoteric, think outside the box with homemade olive oil, basil, or goat cheese ice cream.
While ice cream is undeniably fantastic on its own, a sundae always involves plenty of mix-ins. The toppings function not only as a flavor addition but also provide lots of texture to the sundae, which can be just soft and melty without. Fruit is a classic topping, and we’re big fans of using super seasonal options. We love adding crunchy elements like cereal, nuts, cookie pieces, honeycomb, peanut brittle, and even chocolate haystacks! It’s also fun to play around with savory elements, and for a sweeter ice cream (think caramel or chocolate), the addition of candied ginger, smoked Maldon salt, or even crispy bacon can really heighten the sundae experience.
We’re big fans of the artful drizzle, but when it comes to our super simple chocolate coconut sauce, we can never resist a serious dollop. Whipped cream in flavors like bourbon, vanilla, cinnamon, and citrus can provide even more decadence to your sundae, as can a smattering of salted caramel sauce. Feeling a little bit extra and also summer-forward? What about spooning some cherry sauce on top? For a somewhat out there (but totally irresistible) option, drizzle a little balsamic vinegar or lemon curd over vanilla ice cream for the perfect tangy-acid balance. And, we love the combination of melty, sweet ice cream with a bracing hit of booze. A splash of Kahlua or bourbon take things to the next level.
Recipes you might need
2 slices bacon
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons peanuts
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1. Prepare Bacon
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Place bacon in a medium pan over medium heat. Cook until fat is rendered and bacon is crispy, 5-6 minutes. While bacon cooks, roughly chop peanuts and set aside. Transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. When cool enough to handle, chop into ¼-inch dice and set aside.
2. Melt Sugar
Heat sugar in a medium pot over medium heat without stirring until it begins to melt slightly around sides. Then begin to stir constantly, avoiding sides of pot, until melted, smooth, and a medium amber color, 3-4 minutes. Do not touch the sugar mixture with your hands.
3. Make Brittle
Remove pot from heat and immediately stir in bacon and peanuts just to combine, no more than 10 seconds. Immediately pour mixture onto prepared baking sheet, being sure not to touch. Using a spatula, spread into a thin, even layer. Sprinkle over Maldon salt. Allow brittle to cool completely, about 5 minutes, then break into pieces and serve.
2 cups pitted cherries
½ cup powdered sugar
1. Make sauce
In a medium pot, combine cherries, powdered sugar, juice of ½ lemon, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook until cherries begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Then, gently stir in flour and cook until mixture thickens, 2 minutes more. Remove pot from heat and set aside until ready to serve.
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