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By Terri Hahn

Any way you top it:

Ice cream the ultimate summer treat


Taste of Home;

Cinnamon Chocolate Sundaes: Kids will enjoy this tempting ice cream topping because it hardens on the ice cream as it stands. Store-bought sauces just can't compare to this homemade concoction.

Cinnamon Chocolate Sundaes

Any way you top it: Ice cream the ultimate summer treat

Is there anyone you know who doesn't like ice cream? Sure we all that one person who says their favorite flavor is vanilla (seriously?), but is there really someone out there who doesn't like ice cream at all?

While I know a guy who doesn't like chocolate (what's up with that?), I know of no one who doesn't like ice cream.

While ice cream is popular all year round, it's really the ultimate summer treat. There is just so much you can do with it from making your own (I wrote a column about that last summer), choosing from scores of brands and flavors at your local grocery store, or indulging in wonderful soft serve cones, malts and milkshakes at your local drive-in.

But what takes ice cream to a new level is what you can mix in or top it with. The combinations are endless.

So let's get right to it.

Kids will enjoy this tempting ice cream topping because it hardens on the ice cream as it stands. Store-bought sauces just can't compare to this homemade concoction.

Cinnamon Chocolate Sundaes

Preparation time: 15 minutes, plus cooling

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup corn syrup

1/4 cup half-and-half cream

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Vanilla ice cream

1 cup chopped walnuts

In a small saucepan, combine the butter, chocolate chips, brown sugar, corn syrup and half-and-half. Bring to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat; cook 5 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat; stir in cinnamon and vanilla.

Transfer to a heat-proof measuring cup. Cool for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour sauce over ice cream; top with walnuts. Refrigerate leftover sauce. Rewarm in a microwave before using.

Makes 4 servings (about 1 cup sauce).

Recipe from: Taste of Home;

You can turn any summer day into a special occasion with a cool ice cream treat. From classic favorites to innovative new flavors, it only takes a scoop or two to bring out plenty of smiles.

For kids, summertime is about chilling out, and the friendly folks at Blue Bunny say there's no better way to enjoy this slowed down pace than with a refreshing, frosty treat. Celebrate birthday parties, holiday gatherings or days that end in "y" with special ice cream concoctions that are destined to create sweet memories.

Grab a spoon and dig into this sweet and scrumptious recipe. This treat pairs creamy ice cream with the gooey goodness of freshly-baked chocolate cake.

Ice Cream Cupcakes

Cupcake liners

1-1/8 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup white sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup brewed coffee (see note)

1 container Caramel Fudge Brownie Sundae, vanilla or your favorite ice cream flavor

Decorations (such as sprinkles, cupcake skewers, cherries)

To make cupcakes, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place cupcake liners in cupcake pan. Sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In medium bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat well. Add flour mixture, alternating with coffee. Beat until just incorporated. Fill cupcake liners about 1/3 full to allow for ice cream. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool.

Using round ice cream scoop, scoop out rounds of ice cream and set on baking sheet in freezer. Once ice cream scoops are frozen, carefully place one into each cupcake and top with fun decorations.

Note: Though the recipe calls for brewed coffee, the cupcakes won't take on its strong flavor.

Makes 18 to 20 cupcakes.

Recipe from: Blue Bunny

Layer up with a topping station

A topping station is the perfect activity for birthday parties or other kid-oriented summer celebrations. Just make sure the station is easily accessible - at their level - and place each topping in its own special bowl or serving dish along with a spoon.

Also, be sure to label each topping in case anyone has a food allergy, especially when serving nuts and fruits.

The little ones will have a blast mixing different tastes for the perfect sweet combination. Here are some tasty topping ideas from the folks at Blue Bunny to take your ice cream topping bar to a whole new level:

Mini chocolate chips

Gummy bears

Chocolate candies

Strawberry slices

Pineapple chunks

Banana chunks

Chopped pecans, peanuts or almonds

Crushed cookies

Crushed mint candies

DIY Flurries

A flurry is simple - and it isn't something you can only get at the ice cream shop. You start off with ice cream, usually a basic flavor, then you stir or mix or blend all kinds of things into it. It's not a float; no liquid is added. It's like an ice cream sundae, but with the toppings blended in instead of piled on top.

Most ice cream shops start with soft serve because it mixes so easily. Since most of us don't have soft serve machines in our kitchens, recipe developer Alison Ladman suggests using a machine you probably do have - a microwave.

"Start with a pint of ice cream," she says. "Remove the lid and microwave it for about 10 seconds. Test it with a spoon. The ice cream should still be frozen, but should give when pressed with the back of the spoon. If it's not ready, continue microwaving in 5-second bursts, testing in between.

"Now you're ready to mix. You can keep it simple and just use a spoon to mix the ice cream and toppings in a bowl. But where's the fun in that? Ice cream shops often use a stick blender, another item you may not have. So instead, toss everything into the food processor and pulse a few times."

As for what to use to flavor your flurries? Anything goes, Ladman says. And pile in as many as you can. The more you add, the more delicious it becomes.

To help you get started, Ladman has come up with a bunch of ideas for delicious, chilly flurries.

SNOWSTORM: vanilla ice cream, Peppermint Pattie candies, crushed peppermint sticks, a few drops of mint extract

COCOA BEACH: chocolate ice cream, toasted macadamia nuts, toasted coconut, hot fudge sauce

SATISFACTION: sweet cream ice cream, crushed salted peanuts, caramel sauce, chopped Snickers candy

BERRY BASKET: black raspberry ice cream, chopped fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries

CONCESSION STAND: vanilla ice cream, chocolate sandwich cookies, crushed pretzels, gummy bears, M&M's, caramel sauce, malted milk balls

SILVER SCREEN: vanilla ice cream, caramel popcorn, chocolate-covered peanuts

CAMPFIRE: vanilla ice cream, crushed chocolate covered graham crackers, chopped smoked almonds, chopped marshmallows, hot fudge sauce

ULTIMATE PEANUT: chocolate ice cream, peanut butter sauce, chopped Butterfinger candy bar, chopped Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, salted peanuts, peanut butter M&M's

DARK HORSE CHERRY: chocolate ice cream, chopped maraschino cherries, crushed chocolate sandwich cookies, finely chopped espresso chocolate

MELBA: raspberry swirl ice cream, chopped peaches, fresh raspberries, finely chopped candied ginger

TRAIL MIX: sweet cream ice cream, toasted pecans, granola, dried cranberries, mini chocolate chips

BANSHEE: coffee ice cream, bananas, toasted almonds, cinnamon, crushed toffee

MALTED COOKIE: chocolate ice cream, malted milk balls, crushed vanilla wafer cookies, toasted almonds

Source: Alison Ladman

Terri Hahn of Osceola has worked in food media for more than 30 years and has won numerous state and national awards for her writing. Email her at [email protected]


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