Jul 25, 2021
The ice cream sundae has been a dessert staple for over a century. Early versions of the ice cream sundae were simply chocolate syrup over ice cream, but as out culinary tastes evolved, so too did our toppings.
You can probably thank a royally-named ice cream shop for introducing us to the sundae; ice cream, chocolate and caramel sauce, sliced bananas, whipped cream, and a topping of sprinkles or nuts—and don’t forget the cherry! But this is the 21st century and it’s time to have some fun with this classic.
Next time there’s a special occasion, celebrate with sundaes, and go crazy with the toppings. We have a few bold and daring suggestions…
If you like to balance your sweet treats with some salty elements, bacon might be the perfect sundae topping for you. Some might advocate for whole cooked strips, fried crisp and used as a scoop, or keep it simple, stick with a spoon and make bacon bits or crumbles that can bring that salty-sweet combination home.
Pass on the Peanut…Go Nuts with Nuts
Nuts and ice cream are a polarizing option: Some love them and others hate finding crunchy bits in their smooth ice cream or gelato.
If you’re pro-nut, replace the classic peanut with something more exotic, like pistachios, brazil nuts, pecans, hazelnuts or macadamia nuts. These not only add that needed crunch to your sundae, they also add that subtle saltiness that elevates the entire dish.
And speaking of nuts, everyone’s favourite hazelnut chocolate spread is a winner on top of ice cream, and a s a bonus, Nutella keeps in your pantry or fridge!
Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labours
Yes, you can slice fruit over your sundae, but why not up your fruit game by introducing grilled fruits, like pineapple, plums, mangoes, nectarines and apricots. All of these can easily be tossed on the grill (just brush with oil). If you would rather not grill items, switch out the classic cherries for blackberries, raspberries or dates.
Fruit Topping Hacks
By the way…Pie fillings like cherry, blueberry, apple and even lemon or lime curd are also standout toppers, and easy to find at your local Co-op. If you’re in a pinch, warm some jam or jelly and use that as a hot fruit topping.
Go for the Golds
Add in texture, colour and crunch by introducing different toppings. Break up with traditional golden-toasted waffle cones and use pieces of cone on top of your sundae. Smash up caramel corn or pralines if you want to up the caramel flavor. Steal a page out of a certain duo’s ice cream brand and use bits of busted-up pretzel to add some salty flavor (don’t even get us started on peanut butter filled pretzel bites! If you can find them, they’re the ultimate topping treat!)
And don’t feel like you are limited to traditional pretzels either; sticks and chocolate covered pretzels can also be a great addition.
Baked Goodies Galore!
If you are a sucker for brownies or cookies in your ice cream, then up your bakery game and try adding donut pieces to your sundae. Donuts add a light, fluffy texture not often found in sundaes that can be a nice twist to other baked goods. Use novel donut types to add unusual flavors, like maple glazed or red velvet. Add a cake-like texture by using sour cream donuts, or fruit flavors by adding apple fritters or other filled donuts. Just pull them into small pieces and mix them in.
Whip that Cream into Shape!
Finally, get experimental with your whipped cream. Homemade whipped cream is surprisingly easy to make and a great way to add unexpected flavors to your sundae. Add a little melted chocolate, fresh vanilla extract or beans, or even drop in a little mint, rum or almond extract, or a tablespoon of espresso or even peanut butter into the cream before you whip it. Marshmallow fluff can also be substituted for whipped cream.
What was your most favourite cereal from your childhood? Don’t eat it with milk, put it on your dessert! Cereal is a natural pairing with ice cream, and choices like Sugar Crisp, Corn Pops, or Froot Loops all give you that giggly ‘Home Alone’ feeling when tossed on ice cream and topped with syrup!
Get Crafty with Craft Soda
Finally, you remember ice cream floats, where a scoop of ice cream gets dropped into your favourite pop? Why not reverse that, and spill a little of your favourite soda over top of your sundae, especially of you don’t have any sauces or other toppings on hand? The flavour combinations can’t be beat and it brings a new level of fun to the bowl.
Raid that pantry, or head to your local Calgary Co-op and put together the ultimate sundae bar this weekend. We’ve got ice cream and gelato!
Try these delicious recipes:
Written by Chef Chabot
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