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Think Outside the Cone: 10 Delicious Ice Cream Desserts

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Dulce de Leche Ice Cream on Chocolate Brownies With a Sprinkle of Salt

Ice cream is good and it’s good for you. That’s my position and I’m sticking to it.

So, it wasn’t hard to let fantasy take over and come up a few ice cream dessert ideas, or look up a few more. I’m hoping in this list there might even be one or two you hadn’t thought of.

Most of what follows is ridiculously easy to make. But all are worth a little effort. After you’ve looked through these 10 suggestions, we’d love to hear about your favorites: ice cream, ice cream dishes, ice cream stores— and maybe, within the limits of good taste, your ice cream fantasies as well.

Dulce de Leche Ice Cream on Chocolate Brownies With a Sprinkle of Salt

We invited friends for dinner the other night and my friend, Alison, said she’d bring dessert. That dessert was truly the hit of the evening. It started out simple— a good, basic, pan of fudgy homemade brownies. On top of each brownie, she served a scoop of Haagen-Dazs Dulce de Leche Ice Cream. The secret touch, though, was a light sprinkling of sea salt (or kosher or a finishing salt) on top of the ice cream. Before you say “oh, no,” give it a try.

Salted Oatmeal Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich

No, all of these recipes won’t be about salt, I promise. But these award-winning cookies were my first choice for making a cookies-and-cream ice cream sandwich. Think about making these into three-bite-sized sandwiches, perfect for an afternoon snack that won’t make you feel guilty.  (The recipe for the cookies is below.) For the ice cream I’d go with my favorite, a rich vanilla bean premium ice cream. But it’s likely your favorite would work, too. How about pistachio, coconut, cajeta or peach?

Foamy (by VirtualErn)Ultimate Root Beer Float

Get the best artisan root beer you can find and pick up a pint of your favorite premium vanilla or vanilla bean ice cream. Make a float. Take it to a cool, quiet, dark corner of your den where no one will find you and eat it — very, very slowly.

Papaya Cream, Courtesy of Chama Gaucha Churrascuria

This is so deliriously good that it will delight and amaze your friends. Go ahead and invest in a bottle of creme de cassis, red current liqueur, to drizzle over the papaya cream.  Serve it in elegant stemmed dessert dishes, or in hand-crafted ice cream bowls. It will taste just as good either way. Also, I haven’t tried this, but I think one of those big, lovely ripe mangoes in the store now would taste as good as papaya. To make this dessert, blend equal parts vanilla ice cream with cut up fresh papaya until it is very smooth. Pour into bowls and drizzle with a little creme de cassis. It’s that easy.

Mochi Green Tea Ice Cream

Here’s an ice cream novelty that you can simply pick up at the store.  William “Goro” Pitchford, sushi chef extraordinaire and owner of Godai on West Avenue, introduced these to me. I have found them, off and on, in local upscale grocers in the freezer section that has fancy or ethnic foods.  Mochi is a type of Japanese treat that is made from sticky rice, pulverized into a tender, dough-like wrapper, around a filling of ice cream. You can pick them up and eat out of hand, or put them on Popsicle sticks.  There are other flavors, too, but I like the green tea best. And, think of all those great antioxidants.

Vanilla Ice Cream with Strawberries Macerated in Organic Rose Syrup


(Photo: Elaine Tan)

Just when you thought there was nothing to improve on the simple beauty of a bowlful of ice cream with fresh strawberries, something expensive jumps in and complicates things. In my case, it was a $30 bottle of organic rose syrup that I ordered online. It is made by a woman in Tuscany, Italy, who grows her own roses and violets to make rose syrup and violet syrup.  Simply wash and hull strawberries and slice them in half. Drizzle the rose syrup over the berries, toss gently, cover and set in the refrigerator for an hour or so to macerate.  (I put in about 2-3 generous tablespoons of syrup with a full pint of strawberries.) Dish up vanilla ice cream and spoon on strawberries. Pour some of the leftover rose syrup and berry juice over the ice cream. Order Magliano Organic Rose Syrup in an 8.8 ounce jar from

Peach Melba Shake

Peach Melba is a dessert that some might consider old-fashioned, but which I consider classic. The combination of fresh peach and raspberry flavors can hardly be beat. The dessert was created in the late 1800s by French chef Auguste Escoffier for an Australian opera singer. It consisted of two poached peach halves placed face down over scoops of vanilla ice cream, the topped with raspberry sauce. For a Peach Melba Shake, skin and pit a large, ripe peach and cut it up into a blender. Add a cup-and-a-half of ice cubes, a cup of raspberries, 1/2 cup peach nectar, 2 scoops vanilla ice cream and a tablespoon vanilla extract or 2 tablespoons vanilla syrup. Blend well, about 30 seconds.  If you like, shake a little cinnamon or nutmeg on top. (Recipe is from “The Ultimate Ice Cream Book” by Bruce Weinstein. )

Adult Ice Cream Sundaes

icecream4Very simple. Take your favorite ice cream, sliced banana or strawberries and keep the whipped cream handy. Instead of syrup, drizzle on a liqueur such as Amaretto (top the whipped cream with sliced almonds), Creme de Menthe (with mint chocolate chip ice cream and a mint leaf on top). You get the picture.

Muddy Feet

I first tasted this version of an ice cream sundae at Brindles Awesome Ice Cream at 11255 Huebner Oaks.  It is, roughly, cookie dough baked into the bottom of a one-serving size oven proof cup or small souffle dish, then topped with ice cream, syrup and whipped cream. The trick is to bake the dough until it is just done, but not too firm. Add the ice cream while it’s still warm, then the other ingredients. I use chocolate chip cookie dough, but use your imagination.

Stay-at-Home Ice Cream and a Slab of Marble

icecream1Set up a buffet bar and a marble slab for people to do their own mixing. Include crushed Oreos, M&M’s, chopped nuts, coconut, chopped Reese’s cups or candy bars — whatever else you like. Have two large, paddle-like spoons and a bucket of warm water and paper towels handy to help keep things clean. Let guests play with the paddles to manipulate the ice cream some, which could be quite entertaining.

Crispy Salted Oatmeal Cookies for Ice Cream Sandwiches

1 cup flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
14 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
½ teaspoon coarse sea salt (like Maldon or fleur de sel) (for sprinkling on top)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and  salt in a medium bowl.

Beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula, then add egg and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Scrape down bowl again. Add flour mixture gradually and mix until just incorporated and smooth. Gradually add oats and mix until well incorporated.

Divide dough into 24 equal portions, each about 2 tablespoons. Roll between palms into balls, then place on lined baking sheets about 2 ½ inches apart. Using fingertips, gently press down each ball to about ¾-inch thickness. Sprinkle a few flakes of sea salt on each cookie

Bake until cookies are deep golden brown, about 13 to 16 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack to cool.

For ice cream sandwiches: Place a couple of spoonfuls of slightly softened ice cream between two cookies, press together to make sandwich and put on a tray in the freezer. When the ice cream inside the cookies has hardened, wrap each sandwich in waxed paper or a zipper bag and store in freezer.

Source for Crispy Salted Oatmeal Cookies: Cook’s Illustrated

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17 Responses to “Think Outside the Cone: 10 Delicious Ice Cream Desserts”

  1. Carlos G. says:

    OK, now I can safely tell my friends that ice cream really is one of the 4 basic food groups. But not til I try every one of these ideas………..

    • Hi Carlos – Well, if you do try them all, let me know your favorite. I think I’m going to head for that cold root beer and vanilla float right about now, though. bw

  2. And if you need something to do with those forgotten cones, I have cooked cupcakes in them, just like you would in a cupcake pan, and decorate it with icing swirled like ice cream and top with sprinkles – fun for birthday parties and surprising dinner guests. 🙂 (Hint: use the cones with the flat bottoms, stand up much easier in muffin pans.)

    Kids love these!

    • Hi GB — I especially appreciate the tip about using the muffin tins. I also like the fact that you eat the ‘wrapper.’ So, if you’re at a picnic or in someone’s back yard or at a public event, there’s no mess, either. Thanks for a very nea idea.BW

  3. Jayne says:

    Okay! It’s official I stopping at the super market on my way home from work and getting some icecream.

  4. Here’s a tip, Jayne – If you’re a vanilla fiend, as I am, the new Haagen-Dazs 5 Vanilla Bean is a great place to start your own private ice cream fest! Glad to have you on SavorSA!

  5. jenni says:

    You had me at salty oatmeal cookies. Heavenly, Bonnie. Thanks for that 10 pounds I’m about to put on this weekend.

    • Bonnie says:

      Well, Jenni, when times are tough (like August in San Antonio) one must take desperate measures to survive… Next week, we switch to Hatch green chiles, and I promise there will be some lower-fat options. Thanks for joining us on SavorSA!

  6. Betsy McKellar says:

    I suspect that some old fashioned rhubarb sauce would knock your socks off on that paypaya ice cream…

    • John Griffin says:

      Rhubarb sauce on just about anything would knock my socks off. Heard tonight that Bistro Vatel serves it on duck breast. The sounds of that made me very happy, too.

    • Hi Betsy – Welcome to SavorSA! — Love the rhubarb sauce suggestion. I think it would be good on just about anything and I think you need to share with us a recipe — (Rhubarb, sugar, lemon, cinnamon? What am I missing…? Oh, bacon – no, I mean butter…)

  7. James says:

    Hi Bonnie,

    Great to have an article on Ice Cream (my favorite)!! However I was hoping for something with a bit more than just a story on ice creams with various sauces.
    I mean … you could add the following to any ice cream and improve it:
    Peanut Butter, Nuttela, Milo, Ovaltine, Espresso, Black Truffles, Honey, MicroPlane grated 72% Chocolate, macerated fresh fruit etc etc… basically your taste buds and your imagination is what will inhibit you.

    Might I recommend a follow up story on actually ice cream recipes?? Here in San Antonio there has to be several accomplished Pastry Chefs you could ask for their input. Rather than promoting store bought products. After all your charter does say “…about the people who are setting the trends…”

    I will start the ball rolling…. after all I am not complaining, just complaining for action.

    Most ice cream sold today is sadly “mock.” It is half air and almost totally synthetic, laced with seaweed, gum acacia, locust bean gum and such chemical goodies as propylene glycol (an antifreeze), glycerin, sodium car-boxy methylcellulose, monoglycerides, diglycerides, disodium phosphate, tetrasodium pyrophosphate, polysorbate 80 and dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate—all these to “stabilize” and “emulsify.” All is fair to cut costs: dried eggs, dried milk, whey, corn syrup instead of sugar, the cheapest artificial flavoring.

    Here is the a classic real French Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe…. (and readers trust me when I say this ice cream will taste better than any store bought)

    500ml Full Milk
    500ml Heavy Cream
    8 Egg Yolks
    200gr Sugar
    1 Vanilla Bean (has to be very fresh and of good quality)

    If anyone would like the standard procedure to make this, I would be happy to pass it on.

    Possible suggestions: Lavender, Eucalyptus, the ubiquitous Green Tea, Ginger and Chocolate etc etc… I would love to hear from some Pastry Chefs their recipes??? Any Chance???


    • Hi James, thanks for your note. Glad you’re reading SavorSA.

      During SavorSA’s recent ice cream ‘festival’ we ran lots of ice cream recipes, so you might want to check them out. (There is a search button at the top of the first page.)

      Look for: an excellent chocolate ice cream recipe, plus recipes for Almond Fudge, Butter Pecan, Pistachio Gelato, Mint Cocoa Nib Ice Cream made in a can, Ginger Ice Cream, ice cream for Diabetic and Lactose Intolerant, including one for chocolate, one for vanilla, Fresh Peach, and a trio of very unusual ice creams, including Beet Ice Cream, Avocado Ice Cream and Bacon Ice Cream. Also, look for our review of three premium ice creams. One, the Haagen Dazs 5, has just five ingredients. It was pretty “pure” and really good, even though not homemade.

      Hope this helps!

  8. mlw says:

    a quick suggestion for adult sundaes – limoncello is quite tasty on vanilla ice cream.

    James’ point is well-taken about home-made vs. store-bought – but I know that I will never buy ice-cream-making equipment, nor will I make ice-cream (waaaay too lazy). I don’t need that kind of calorie-promoting temptation around! It seems to me that the premium ice creams – haagen-dazs, ben & jerry’s, etc – ARE mostly like homemade, with very little synthetics, air whipped in, etc.

  9. mlw says:

    oh… and rhubarb sauce rhules!

  10. IceCreamInMyBlood says:

    Great Article.

    Just to remind all to chill the marble slab or end up with a soupy mess. And I should know, lol. I ate ice cream from the womb, mom had a sundae every day at the office (family business, B and R) With a first paying job at B and Rob. and afterward initiated into the newest venture (M. Slab). Gotta love those first jobs. And smelling like a homemade ice cream come, yummy. Maybe that’s why the boys drooled, lol.

    Anyway, chilled marble and quick mixing makes for ice cream that won’t need a straw for consumption.

    • Bonnie says:

      Hi Ice Cream (love it!) – Thank you, thank you, thank you. Maybe, for people like us, there should be a dedicated place in the fridge (or freezer?) for that marble slab. Like my pizza stone in the oven that stays there. This is a great tip, and we appreciate you sharing it with SavorSA. Welcome to our Website, btw!