|That's not caramel...that's carrot cake!|
It should be a sin to call ice cream a "summertime" dessert. It's delicious all year round—and ice cream makers have caught on. They're offering flavors that stray far from the classic neapolitan trio of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry; some have even launched seasonal flavors that are designed specifically for the cold-weather ice cream connoisseur (or addict).
One problem: I never actually buy supermarket ice cream. I limit my consumption to a tasty local creamery called The Cup, only because it's too dangerous for me to purchase a full tub of ice cream. (How can I accomplish anything, knowing I have that deliciously dirty secret waiting in my freezer?)
The compromise: buying ice cream strictly for social gatherings. I'm not suggesting dishing out a scoop of plain vanilla in a plastic bowl like Grandma did. I mean decadent, make-your-mouth-scream-for-mercy ice creams.
That you buy at the supermarket. Really. The secret is artfully presenting your ice cream, so no one knows they weren't prepared in your own kitchen.
1. Blue Bunny 24 Karat Carrot Cake Ice Cream
I've always thought of Blue Bunny as an "off-brand" ice cream, but a string of innovative, gourmet flavors proves me wrong. This creative concoction by Chef Duff Goldman features a decadent swirl of carrot cake ice cream, cream cheese ice cream, and chunks of carrot cake. I don't need to be asked twice.
Layer a mini-scoop of Carrot Cake Ice Cream between two gingersnaps for a tiny, fall-flavored ice cream sandwich.
2. Ben & Jerry's Cannoli Ice Cream
Confession: I never ate a cannoli until I started dating an Italian. I loved them so much I decided to marry him. This pint will make you fall in love with Ben and Jerry: mascarpone ice cream with fudge-covered cannoli pastry chunks and a mascarpone swirl.
For a frozen take on the Italian classic, pipe Cannoli Ice Cream into mini cannoli shells. Or simply dress up a scoop with another Italian staple: ladyfingers.
3. Blue Bell Christmas Cookies Ice Cream
Cookie dough ice cream is incredible, but why stop at standard chocolate chip? This seasonal treat combines chunks of chocolate chip, snickerdoodle, and sugar cookies. Oh, and those chunks of cookie are all swirled into a sugar cookie ice cream. Not enough sugar? Don't worry. There are candy-cane shaped sprinkles and a green icing swirl!
Add a scoop of Christmas Cookies Ice Cream to a steaming mug of hot chocolate.
4. Breyers Apple Cinnamon Crumble
Apple crumble and ice cream is one of my favorite desserts this time of year. Crust is my favorite part, but I need not worry: Breyers dropped pieces of flaky pie crust into this fruity fall creation.
I love the contrast of warm apple pie and cold ice cream. My solution: Heat up pre-made apple pie filling, and make sundaes with Apple Cinnamon Crumble ice cream.
5. Archer Farms Monster Cookie Ice Cream
In case you haven't caught on: I'm a sucker for ice cream-cookie combos. Monster cookies—peanut butter, oatmeal, M&M—are a sadly under-appreciated treat, so they deserve a starring role in an ice cream. Thank you, Target.
There's already a lot going on here. So keep it simple: Use a small (1 1/2") ice cream scoop to create little balls of Monster Cookie Ice Cream. Place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet, stick a wooden craft spoon into each, and freeze until hardened. It's like a spoonful of cookie dough!
6. Blue Bunny Pistachio Almond Ice Cream
Pistachios are a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. My father had no self-control when it came to cracking pistachios, so he banned them from our house. I'm a grown-up now, so I can eat them whenever I want. Even in ice cream.
Serve a scoop of Pistachio Almond Ice Cream with a piece of chocolate or pistachio biscotti for a simple, sophisticated dessert.
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