Food

Bliss in a bowl: 17 ideas for your next ice cream sundae

Layland Masuda / Today

Perhaps you don’t need an excuse to indulge in an ice cream sundae. To that we say, good on you. But just in case you do, rejoice: November 11 is National Sundae Day. It's a day to feel good about piling toppings on your favorite scoops, whether it’s the traditional fudge sauce with nuts, whipped cream and a cherry on top or something a little more creative, like the ideas below. Go on — enjoy. It’s practically your patriotic duty. (For each of these recipes, whipped cream is a given.)

1. Applesauce + cinnamon + vanilla ice cream: Love apple pie a la mode? This is it, sans crust. Warm a little applesauce with a sprinkling of cinnamon, to taste, then pour it atop a couple scoops of vanilla ice cream. Amp it up even more with some cinnamon ice cream or, even better, a dulce de leche or salted-caramel scoop.

2. Strawberry slices + blueberry preserves + vanilla ice cream: We were serious when we said it’s your patriotic duty to enjoy a sundae. So do it American-style: Heat a little blueberry preserves so they become slightly liquid. Pour over two scoops of vanilla ice cream and top with fresh sliced strawberries. Yahoo red, white and blue!

3. Marshmallow fluff + graham crackers + rocky road ice cream: It’s s’mores in a cup! Top two scoops of rocky road ice cream (or plain chocolate if you’re a purist) with a dollop of marshmallow fluff and garnish with a couple graham cracker sections — or crumble them on top. Either way, we predict you’ll want s’more. 

4. Strawberry slices + vanilla ice cream + aged balsamic: Sweet-tart flavors go gourmet. Simply top a couple scoops of vanilla ice cream with fresh sliced strawberries and drizzle with a mellow aged balsamic vinegar for a complex, sophisticated sundae.

5. Lemon curd + pistachio ice cream + salted pistachios: Nuts for nuts? Place a dollop of lemon curd atop two scoops of pistachio ice cream, dress with whipped cream and sprinkle with chopped salted pistachios. 

6. Peanut butter syrup + chocolate ice cream + salted peanuts: Think chocolate and peanut butter are two great tastes that taste great together? Then take a cue from the famous peanut butter cup and top chocolate ice cream with peanut butter syrup (here's an easy recipe for homemade peanut butter syrup) and chopped salted peanuts. 

7. Toasted coconut + coconut ice cream + cookie crumbles: Think coconut cream pie when you’re putting this sundae together: Top coconut ice cream with whipped cream (of course) and toasted coconut. Crumble your choice of cookie on top, from a sugar cookie to a snickerdoodle or even a graham cracker.

8. Banana slices + sweet cream ice cream + Nilla wafers: Speaking of cream pies, riff on banana cream pie, sundae-style by topping sweet cream ice cream (or a scoop of banana ice cream if you’re really bananas for the flavor) with banana slices and crumbled Nilla wafers. Bonus: Top the banana slices with a sprinkling of brown sugar and a pat of butter and broil for two to three minutes to get a deep, caramelized flavor. 

9. Caramel syrup + vanilla ice cream + sea salt: Love the new salted-caramel craze? Construct your own sundae in homage by sprinkling some high-quality flaked sea salt over caramel-topped vanilla ice cream.

10. Dulce de leche + chocolate ice cream + cinnamon + cinnamon-sugar tortilla strips: Take your sundae a south of the border with this deconstructed Mexican chocolate sundae. Top scoops of chocolate ice cream (or one chocolate and one cinnamon scoop) with dulce de leche (also sold as cajeta) and sprinkle with cinnamon. Top with strips of cinnamon-sugared tortillas (the Pioneer Woman has a great cinnamon crisps recipe).

11. Breakfast cereal + vanilla ice cream + chocolate sauce: Cuckoo for breakfast cereal? Top your favorite scoops with the cereal of your choice, everything from Cocoa Krispies or Cocoa Puffs if you’re a chocolate fiend to Kix, Corn Flakes and even Cheerios if you prefer a to give your sundae a toasty taste. (New Englanders know that Grape-Nuts are a great match for vanilla.) 

12. Maple syrup + bacon + vanilla ice cream: Seriously folks, what kind of food list would be complete without bacon? Sate all your sweet-salty cravings by crumbling crispy bacon atop vanilla ice cream and drizzling with maple syrup. 

13. Popcorn + vanilla ice cream + chocolate sauce: Another take on sweet and salty, cinema style. Instead of the traditional chopped nuts, sprinkle salted buttered popcorn on top. More of a carnival type person? Sub Cracker Jack or kettle corn for the popcorn. 

14. Pretzels + potato chips + butterscotch sauce + vanilla ice cream: Momofuku Milk Bar has their Compost Cookie. Why can’t you make a sundae in the same style? Top vanilla ice cream with butterscotch sauce, and crumble pretzels and potato chips atop. Oh yeah. 

15. Strawberry preserves + strawberry ice cream + biscuits: It’s strawberry shortcake in a bowl. Heat a small amount of strawberry preserves to make them liquid, then pour atop strawberry ice cream and crumble a little biscuit on top. 

16. Cherry preserves + vanilla ice cream + brownie crumbles + chocolate sauce + brandied cherry: This take on black forest cake makes a great bowl: Heat cherry preserves so they become liquid and pour atop vanilla ice cream. Crumble brownie or chocolate cake pieces on top and finish with a brandied cherry — or a few. 

17. Apple or pumpkin butter + pumpkin pie spice + toasted walnuts + vanilla ice cream: Call it the harvest special. Dollop apple or pumpkin butter atop two scoops of vanilla ice cream and sprinkle with a little pumpkin pie spice (a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger and allspice). Top with toasted walnuts. So cozy. 

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