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?
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
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 www.purelyorganic.com.
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
Very 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.
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
Set 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