An ice cream sundae is the quintessential American dessert that dates back to the late 1800s. From the early days of scooping out ice cream floats at soda fountains, sundaes now have become a household treat that you can make for yourself and your family. So, as we enjoy the last of these warm weather months, why not make Sunday a fun day for making ice cream sundaes at home? It's a delicious activity that your family will look forward to.
The basis for any sundae is the ice cream. You can find any flavor under the sun at your local grocery store, or if you're feeling adventurous, you might even want to make your own. Ice cream is actually a pretty easy recipe. It's basically made up of cream, sugar, vanilla, ice and rock salt. Plus, of course, any goodies you want to add, like chocolate pieces or nuts. Making your own fresh ice cream also ensures that it will be free of artificial flavors or preservatives. And if you're watching your family's sugar intake, you can always opt for low-fat frozen yogurt or sorbet as the basis for your sundae treat.
Toppings are what elevate a scoop of ice cream to a sundae. Syrup is a must, and while hot fudge seems to be the go-to squeeze, you can also find butterscotch, caramel and fruit-based syrups to keep on hand. Typically, the syrup is covered with a generous dollop of whipped cream that comes straight from the can. The server is obligated to spray some on his or her tongue, as well. Nuts are optional, but it's good to have a stash of crushed peanuts to sprinkle over the goods. And of course, you can't forget the cherry. Even if you're not a cherry guy or gal, you can usually find someone else that will gladly take it off your hands. The cherry is such an essential that the phrase "cherry on top" has become a metaphor for anything extra that's good.
If you want to mix it up occasionally, the ice cream sundae has some decadent cousins that you might enjoy as well. Of course, there's the banana split, which pretty much just requires the addition of a banana to the sundae. If you want to split it old school, the banana is cut lengthwise and forms the base of the dessert, so you'll need an oblong plate or dish to accommodate it. Then, all of the goodies get loaded on top. Next is the parfait, which typically consists of ice cream, whipped cream and fruit. You can also add graham crackers or granola into the mix if you want a little crunch. The ingredients are layered in a tall glass and eaten with a long spoon, so you get a little taste of everything in each bite. And then there's the old-fashioned ice cream float, which was the original ice cream dish served in soda fountains. Floats are simply made of soda and vanilla ice cream. Root beer is the most common soda to pair with the ice cream, but colas and ginger ales are good variations if you want to spice it up.