There is definitely a place for desserts that you’ve spent hours stirring, whipping, folding, baking and icing. But a simple dessert, one that is conjured up from the pantry with unexpected ingredients, oozes effortless cool. It’s all like “Oh this old thing? I just whipped it up. Prepare to have your mind blown.”
As a kid I had a very complex system for making my ice cream after dinner. The ice cream had to be a very specific degree of meltiness before I added a measured amount of hundreds-and-thousands (nonpareils for you North Americans). I then left the ice cream to melt some more before stirring the sprinkles through the now soft-serve-textured ice cream, turning it into a gloopy grey treat.
These three toppings are not as complex, and are definitely more sophisticated, and will turn the bucket of vanilla ice cream in your freezer into guest-worthy desserts, or simply improve a bad day. Make sure you splurge on the quality of your ice cream, it will help make these desserts even better.
1. Raw Chocolate with Strawberries
Have you tried raw chocolate, the sugar-free, dairy-free alternative to normal chocolate? My friend Casey is the creative force behind RAW Chocolate, a new raw chocolate brand. It’s velvety and rich, and unlike normal chocolate, raw chocolate doesn’t go hard and have a weird mouthfeel when paired with ice cream. Instead it remains smooth and mingles with the ice-cream to form a new flavour. Casey has been giving me bags of “shards”, the offcuts of the moulding process, and these shards have been topping my ice cream very nicely. Her peppermint and coconut flavour conjures up a childhood mint-choc-chip dream and offsets fresh, ripe strawberries beautifully. Check out your local health food store for raw chocolate and shave it on top of some ice cream.
2. Olive Oil and Sea Salt
The so-wrong-it’s-right pairing that I mentioned in last week’s Summer Entertaining Guide. The vanilla ice cream is still the dominant flavour in this combo, but the olive oil smooths everything out, confusing the tastebuds for a bit, coaxing them into a false sense of security before the sea salt crystals burst onto the scene doing what they do in salted caramel. You probably have these ingredients in your house right now. You should at least try it, no?
3. Almond Bread and Maple Syrup
My local independent supermarket stocks an excellent range of delicate, italian biscuits. A packet of their almond bread, also known as biscotti, is permanently in my pantry, ready for impromptu afternoon teas or after-dinner coffees. Smashing up a packet of almond bread is not only very satisfying, it makes an excellent ice cream topping with its subtle flavour and strong texture. Adding a generous slurp of maple syrup ups the indulgence factor.
Do you have a favourite ice cream topping?