Friday, March 13, 2015

A Month of Sundaes

There are quite a few fancy flavors of vegan ice cream out there these days. But their availability depends greatly on where you live. And extra nutritional needs, such as a need for an almond base instead of soy, or needing to avoid chocolate cuts down the options even further. I personally am grateful to have access to basic vanilla.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t like to dress it up with a little variety sometimes.
And a sundae is a classic way to do that. Most of the ice cream sauces and toppings that are sold in stores are not vegan, though. So I’ve come up with a few fun options. These are “hot” style sauces by the way—they should be made immediately before using and served while still warm, and not be made ahead. They’re so fast it’s no problem to do so.

Here are some sauces, all of them single-serving and ready in under 2 minutes:

Sundae with vegan hot fudge sauce, coconut and ginger cookie dough

Easy Hot Fudge Sauce

2 Tbsp nondairy chocolate or carob chips
1 Tbsp vanilla soymilk

Heat both ingredients in microwave for 30 seconds. Stir and mash with a small spatula until smoothly melted, heating a little more if necessary. Pour over ice cream and top with nuts, coconut, candy, or whatever else you like.

Variations: You can make a spicy version by adding a dash of cinnamon and cayenne.
You can also use other kinds of vegan chips if you can find them.

Peanut Butter Ice Cream Topping

Vegan  Sundae with peanut butter sauce& cookies crumbs
1 Tbsp Peanut Butter
2 Tbsp vanilla soymilk
drop of maple extract/mapelline
1 or 2 tsp sugar or sweetener
Dash of cinnamon

Heat peanut butter and 1 Tbsp of the soymilk in microwave for 30 seconds on high. Add rest of soymilk, maple extract, sweetener and cinnamon and whisk with fork until smooth. Pour over ice cream and add other toppings as desired.  

Making the sauce

Variation: Other types of nut butter may be used; hazelnut is particularly good. Adjust sweetness and flavorings for different nuts to taste.

Butterscotch Ice Cream Topping

Butterscotch and almond sundae
2 Tbsp soymilk
½ tsp cornstarch
4 tsp maple syrup (or sugar-free pancake syrup)
1 tsp vegan margarine or reduced fat oil spread (I used Smart Balance Light)
A drop each vanilla and maple extract/mapelline
Small dash of salt (optional)

Whisk together soymilk and cornstarch with a fork until completely dissolved with no lumps. Add syrup and margarine (don’t worry about stirring those in). Microwave for 30 to 90 seconds on high, until it looks quite thick. Stir, and add extracts and salt, if using. Stir again, and pour over ice cream.

This butterscotch sauce can actually be scaled up and used as an excellent pudding or pie filling as well. Cooking time will increase with volume.

Basic Fruity Sundae Topping (version 1)

Pineapple-coconut sundae

¼ cup canned fruit in juice or syrup (such as crushed pineapple or canned strawberries)
¼ tsp cornstarch
sweetener or flavoring such as cinnamon to taste.

Measure out your undrained fruit, aiming for a good mix of fruit and juice. Whisk cornstarch into the fruit and juice, trying to mash away any clumps of starch. Microwave for about a minute to 90 seconds, until thickened. Pour over ice cream.
Pineapple Sauce

This topping is just as good over sorbet as it is vegan ice cream.

Fruity Sundae Topping (version 2)

2 Tbsp of your favorite vegan jam or preserves
a few tsp water, as needed
Chopped fresh fruit, optional

Heat jam in a small glass bowl in microwave for 15-30 seconds. Stir and evaluate texture—if it needs thinning, add water as needed, stirring until smooth and pour-able. I find that sugar-free jam usually requires no added water but that other kinds may vary. Pour over ice cream. You can also stir chunks of fresh fruit such as strawberries or peaches into your jam sauce before spooning over your sundae. This fruit can either match the type of jam or merely be compatible (e.g. peach chunks + raspberry jam = yum).

This sauce tends to re-gel fairly quickly when it hits the cold ice cream. If this bothers you, try version 1.

Mango sorbet with strawberry sauce

Other toppings:

Magic shell: Any undiluted melted chocolate or carob chips will actually solidify immediately on contact with cold ice cream. The trick is getting it to form a thin breakable shell instead of a thick hard lump.  My solution is simple: make a basket or cage instead of a shell. Place melted chocolate or carob into a sandwich bag and snip a mere 1/8 inch off one of the corners. Pipe the chocolate over the ice cream in a thin stream, forming swirls and overlapping lines until it forms a basket shape over the ice cream. Enjoy! The thin interlocking lines will break as your spoon hits them.

Another option would be to take an ice cream cone or edible bowl and coat the inside with a thin layer melted chocolate and let it harden (a brief trip to the freezer will do this quite quickly). It’s actually not too hard to find vegan versions of ice cream cones at a typical grocery store.

Cookies: Crunchy cookies (such as wafers or oreos) can be crumbled and sprinkled over the ice cream. Soft cookies such as chocolate chip will moisten and semi-dissolve on contact with the ice cream and sauces, forming an effect very much like cookie dough. This can be rather desirable. : )

Candy: Any storebought vegan candy can of course be sprinkled on as is. Homemade vegan can be chopped or broken into bite-sized pieces for this purpose too. Sometimes, when you’re planning on making some candy anyway, it can be fun to make a little extra for this kind of thing. The easiest vegan candy bar and Vegan Rocky Road Candy are good possibilities for this.

General toppings: Any form of nut, not just the usual suspects of peanut, almonds, or pecans, but also pistachios, cashews, pine nuts, etc. Spiced or candied nuts work too. Coconut flakes, chocolate chips, and vegan marshmallows are nice rich options. Fruit, whether fresh, dried, canned or even in the form of pie filling makes for a great sundae too. Sometimes when I want semi-healthy treat, I’ll serve a large portion of fresh unsweetened fruit with just a tiny scoop of vegan ice cream on top.

Another sundae variation is to build a sundae on top of another dessert, such as a cake, pie, or brownie. Sometimes this makes a pretty hardcore dessert that’s better off shared.   ; )
Mixing and matching these sauces and toppings with different flavors of vegan ice cream should allow you to duplicate whatever non vegan ice cream treats you remember and crave. Or maybe create something brand new. Have fun!

Banana split, topped with nuts and both peanut butter and hot fudge sauces

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