The Perfect Ice Cream Sundae Bar

What should one do with a healthy amount of leftover salted caramel? Eat it by the spoonful (guilty), top an apple with it (apple bathed in caramel > yawn.com apple), OR create an ice cream sundae bar around it? YES. I was into this sundae bar concept because it sounded fun, interactive, pretty low effort and it happened to be Sunday as well. The beauty of it is that it's a no-fail dessert that you can dial up or down as much as you'd like. I decided to dial it up to 11 because that's what I do. I crafted two sundae bars- one for a Game of Thrones viewing party (sundaes and strong adult content go really well together) and one for a family get together (fun for the whole famn damily!) I am pleased to report that both were smashing successes.

Here's the lowdown on how to create the perfect sundae bar:

Ice Cream: Several pints, several flavors. Definitely get Vanilla and Chocolate at the very least. My personal sundae favorite: Mint Chocolate Chip. Want to make your own? We loved the Vanilla Bean Ice Cream my hubs made. Recipe below.
Hot Fudge & Caramel Sauce: You've gotta have a hot situation for your ice cream to sit in and get drizzled upon. It's a must for a sundae. Along with Salted Caramel Sauce, I made Hot Fudge Sauce (both recipes below). Feeling lazy? Snag one of these and these. I won't judge.
Toppings: Chopped roasted peanuts, Mini Chocolate ChipsMini Butterscotch Chips (mini is my pref, but regular-sized is cool too), Rainbow or Chocolate Sprinkles.
•Baked Good: A Chocolate Chip Cookie or Brownie provide a lovely base or topper to your sundae.
Whipped Cream: One pint with 4 T sugar should be enough to heavily dollop your finished masterpiece. Beat cream until soft peaks form.
Maraschino Cherries: Optional. I'm a sucker for these, but some say they are terrible for you <shrugs and pops cherry in mouth>.

Pro Tip: My mom told me when she was a waitress back in the day, her insider tip for making pretty sundaes was to first spread the sauce all along the inside walls of the glass with the back of a spoon. It looks fancier and gives you a better sundae eating experience. She also mentioned that it gives you the illusion of having more sauce than you actually do. Sneaky sneaky. Thanks madre!

Hot Fudge Sauce
Recipe from browneyedbaker.com
Yield: 2 heaping cups

Ingredients
2/3 cup heavy cream
½ cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
¼ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder Pro Tip: How to know if it's Dutch? If it doesn't say those exact words on the package, look for "processed with Alkali" in the ingredients.
¼ teaspoon sea salt
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped, divided in half. Pro Tip: I tried both Ghirardelli & Scharffen Berger and preferred the latter simply because it was richer.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions
1.  In a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the cream, syrup, brown sugar, cocoa powder, salt and half of the chocolate to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low or low (enough to maintain a low simmer), and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2.  Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining chocolate, the butter, and the vanilla extract, stirring until smooth. Let cool for 20 to 30 minutes before using (it will thicken as it cools). Store in a jar or airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. To reheat, microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute until it's pourable but still thick.

Salted Caramel Sauce
Recipe from ringfingertanline.com
Yield: 2 heaping cups

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
1 1/4 cups heavy cream, warmed
3 tsp fleur de sel (Pro Tip: I only used 2 tsp which was plenty salty)

Directions
1.  Combine the sugar and 1/3 cup water in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. This is the only time you can stir the sugar. If you stir it while it's cooking, it turns to rock candy. Place the saucepan over medium to low heat until the sugars start to dissolve, 5 to 10 minutes. Then turn the heat up to medium-high and cook until the sugar starts to caramelize, 5 to 7 minutes (Pro Tip: this took me more like 9 mins). Do not stir while this is happening. You've got to watch the pot, because it goes from caramel to burnt really quickly. And be careful, the mixture is extremely hot!
2.  Turn off the heat and stand back to avoid splattering. Slowly add the cream. Don't panic - the cream will bubble violently, and the caramel will solidify. Just give it more time to liquefy again-trust me!
3.  Simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until the caramel dissolves and the sauce is smooth, about 2 minutes. Pro Tip: if your caramel is too liquidity (mine was 5/6 times I've made this), simmer over medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes. It's not a bad idea to do this regardless for 5 mins, just to be safe.
4.  Allow the sauce to cool to room temperature, at least 4 hours. It will thicken as it sits. Stir in salt. Pro Tip: I transferred mine to a container after 2 hrs, it was cool enough.

Ben & Jerry’s Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Recipe from Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book
Yield: 1 quart

Ingredients
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
2 tsp vanilla extract OR 1 vanilla bean, scraped

Directions
1.  Whip the eggs and sugar together with a whisk until fluffy (but not firm).
2.  Add the rest of the ingredients into the eggs and sugar. Whisk together until well mixed.
3.  Place in ice cream maker and follow it's directions to make.
4.  Best if stored in a separate flat container

Pro Tip: Make sure your ice cream maker container has been in the freezer for at least 24 hours or else the ice cream won't get cold enough and fully form.

Happy 4th of July! Now go do something 'Merican, like make an ice cream sundae....

Review: Desserts of Disneyland

My family and I go to the happiest place on Earth, Disneyland, every year. This is partially due to the fact that we all truly love it, but mostly because there's a dental convention in Anaheim that my parents attend. (Ironic fact: my dad is a dentist and my mom is a hygienist...and we're all dessert fiends. GASP). Since we've been going for so many years, we know the park waaay too well, especially when it comes to the desserts (didn't see that one coming huh?) Luckily, Mr. Walt Disney didn't disappoint in this area. My fam and I have dessert traditions that we try to partake in each visit and I'd like to share some of the highlights with you.

Clockwise starting left: Chocolate Chip Cookie Hot Fudge Sundae, Strawberry Ice Cream with Hot Fudge, Firehouse Dalmatian Mint Sundae and Mocha Almond Fudge Ice Cream.

Best Ice Cream Sundae: Firehouse Dalmatian Mint Sundae @ Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor.
This sundae can do no wrong. Two scoops of mint chocolate chip ice cream, served in a waffle cup, with hot fudge, whipped cream and a cherry. This past visit, I stupidly ordered the Chocolate Chip Cookie Hot Fudge Sundae to mix things up. Don't do this. It was below average. Plus, I got to watch my sister happily chow down on the Mint Sundae across the table from me. I was an angry panda.

Why so happy friend? I'm about to eat your face.

Best Frozen Nibble: Mickey's Ice Cream Sandwhich @ Frozen Treat Cart.
Snag one of these adorable cookies 'n cream ice cream sandos and bite Mickey's ears off with glee.

Best Afternoon Snack: Churro: @ Churro Cart.
When you're in between meals and you need a little something something to tie yourself over, order yourself a Churro. It's sugary crunchy on the outside, warm and soft on the inside.

Best Baked Sweet Treat: Chef Cookie’s Deep Dish @ Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue.
Choose from a classic chocolate chip cookie or seasonal cookie (ours was a snickerdoodle), each served with vanilla ice cream and drizzled with hot fudge or caramel. It's yum.

photo cred: disneylandblackoutdates.com

Best Hot Day Refresher: Pineapple Whip @ Tiki Juice Bar.
This pineapple fro-yo is not only delightfully refreshing, but is probably the healthiest dessert at DL. Order this when you've been porking out on corn dogs and want a lighter sweet.

Clockwise starting top left: Some fruity dessert, some PB choco number, my duo of crème brûlée: vanilla and hazelnut and lastly molten choco with flare.

Best Exclusive Dessert: Crème Brûlée duo @ Club 33
You can't help but feel like a VIP getting to dine at Club 33. The 4 desserts we tried were not all mind-blowers, but most were really tasty. Tom Colicchio would give them all high marks on presentation, but I personally think the crème brûlée duo tasted the best.

Disneyland will always hold a very special place in my heart...and stomach. My hat is tipped to you Walt!

Overall Rating: 5 Ice Cream Scoops