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Ice Cream Socials, Affogato and Sundae Bars

Ice cream socials or sundae bars are a great summer dessert event or fund raiser. Catered, the sundae bar costs 4.95 to 6.95 per person without the cake bases (2006). In Italy, an affogato dessert is a cup of espresso poured over a dish of vanilla ice cream. You can do a wonderful adult variation of the sundae bar for grownups by brewing expresso or strong coffee. Offer a scoop of vanilla or coffee ice cream in the coffee, provide a selection of flavored syrups, and include toppings like whipped cream, nutmeg and shaved chocolate. Then serve beautiful biscotti or Biscoff cookies along side.

Allergy alert! Some guests may not be aware of all the ingredients in your ice creams or toppings- nuts can be particularly dangerous. As host it's your responsibility to clearly mark items or find out who can eat what!


These amounts will serve 200 People. For 50 people, allow 3 gallons of ice cream and 1/4 of the other toppings.
  • 10 gallons ice cream - 1 strawberry or peach, 2 chocolate or coffee, the rest vanilla
  • 6 pounds maraschino cherries, drained
  • 4-5 pounds cookie bits (Oreos, crushed, etc.)
  • 4 pounds M&Ms or other candies
  • 1/2 pound raisins
  • 1/2 pound shredded coconut
  • 2 1/2 quarts chopped peanuts
  • 2 large containers sprinkles
  • 1 small can peanut brittle crunch
  • 1 pound walnuts
  • 3 12 ounce squirt bottles chocolate sauce OR 2 1/2 quarts thick fudge sauce (thicker takes more)
  • 2 12 ounce squirt bottles caramel sauce OR 1 1/2 quarts caramel sauce
  • 1 1/2 jars (about 1 quart) strawberry topping
  • 3 pounds bananas
  • 20 cans of whipped cream (calculate about 1 can per ten people)
  • Beverages: Coffee and decaf coffee (use the dinner coffee amounts on the plan for 100 beverages page), lemonade and ice water

Unless you have greedy or rambunctious guests, a buffet style Sundae Bar works well. As host you can direct traffic and keep a close eye on dwindling supplies-because a Sundae without a cherry on top is indeed a terrible thing! The setting can be informal, themed (50's sock hop, soda shop) or a very elegant Victorian wedding table.

Plan on using a plastic tablecloth to top the serving table, as these buffets tend to get messy. Serve the ice cream at one table. Offer the ice cream condiments in a buffet, like a salad bar, on another table. Use crock-pot slow cookers or fondue pots to keep Hot Fudge & Caramel Sauce warm. Final toppings such as whipped cream can have their own separate table, or be placed with the beverage table offering water, lemonade and coffee.

Ice cream scoops come in measured sizes, most people use 2 #12 scoops for a regular sundae. You can pre-dip and freeze some dishes of ice cream if you need very rapid service.

JAZZ IT UP: Besides sundaes, at your sundae event you can add root beer or Coke floats, ice cream sandwiches, ice cream cones, fruit smoothies or milkshakes. Popcorn is a great salty alternative, you can rent a 1890's style popcorn maker or movie theater type, for a salty snack.

EXOTICS: The most exotic sundaes use unexpected ingredients. Serendipity’s Strawberry Fields Forever Sundae, for example, sits atop cheesecake. Another sundae rests on homemade gingerbread and is topped with lemon curd, candied ginger and ground cinnamon or a lemon twist. Think about texture, too. Serendipity’s coffee ice cream-based Sand Tart Sundae gets its sandy quality from finely ground pecans. Grainy red sugar tops their All-American Sundae that’s flanked by fresh blueberries and homemade maraschino cherries. Crushed chocolate mint cookies and mint chips add interest to their Grasshopper Sundae. Baskin-Robbins offers the Peanut Butter Pie Sundae: Peanut Butter ‘n’ Chocolate ice cream and chocolate ice cream topped with peanut butter sauce, graham crackers, peanuts and whipped cream. They have also developed the Tiramisu Sundae: French vanilla and Jamoca Almond Fudge ice creams topped with spongecake pieces and hot fudge sauce and drizzled with coffee and chocolate syrups. For an even more authentic (and adult!) touch, drizzle a bit of marsala or sherry on top of the cake and add a dollop of mascarpone.

Here are some additional ideas:

HOLDERS: coca-cola shaped drinking glasses, sundae or Soda Tulip glasses, small sundae and long "banana boat" bowls, cake cones, sugar cones, plain or chocolate dip waffle cones or cups. (Fresh made waffle cones smell fantastic) Straws & cups for smoothies. Foam coffee cups also work great because they are portable, stable and disposable.

CAKE BASES: Brownies, pound cake slices, gingerbread, cupcakes, hot apple or other fruit cobbler, lemon bars, cheesecake squares, marshmallow or caramel popcorn Sundae Bowls; oatmeal or chocolate chip bars or cookies; butter cookies; Christmas cookies

SAUCES: Chocolate, caramel, espresso, strawberry, peach, hot fudge, coffee; marshmallow fluff or cream, pure maple syrup, pineapple, butterscotch, rasberry, "magic shell" hardening toppings, jams and jelly

FRUIT: split bananas or banana circles, bing cherries, sliced fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, peaches, mandarin oranges, shredded coconut

CANDIES: mini marshmallows, jimmies/ sprinkles, white & dark chocolate chips; crushed Reeses, Butterfinger, Snickers, Mars, peppermints, Kit Kat, Hershey chocolate bars; mini M&M's, cinnamon bears, gummi candies

COOKIES: Crushed Oreos, Thin Mints, Vanilla Wafers, chocolate chip, iced animal cookies, macaroons, pecan sandies

TOPPERS: whipped cream & maraschino cherries

NUTS & CRUNCHIES: Chopped walnuts, pecans, macadamia, pistachios, almonds, or peanuts; toasted coconut; wet walnuts or pecans; grapenuts; crunchy granola

How to Keep your Ice Cream Cold for Several Hours even on a Sunny Hot Day:


Dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide, and is very, very, very, very, cold (-109 F). It's nothing to be afraid of, but there are some simple safety concerns; for example:
  • Always use dry ice with adult supervision. DO NOT allow kids to handle or mess with dry ice.
  • ALWAYS wear gloves or tongs when handling dry ice. It is so cold it will cause serious burns to bare skin.
  • 5 pounds will keep food frozen for 12 hours, 10 pounds for 24 hours, etc.
  • Do not place dry icedirectly in food. Keep food wrapped in freezer paper.
  • Do not eat dry ice.
  • Use dry ice in a well ventilated area, like outdoors. The carbon dioxide that is released as a gas can be dangerous in enclosed spaces.
  • Do not place bottled or canned sodas in dry ice. They will explode.
  • Do not keep dry ice in an airtight container. Ice chests are fine.
  • Do not keep dry ice in your regular freezer, it will shut off the thermostat.
  • Dry ice is generally available in blocks or small nuggets and costs around $1 per pound.
  • Do not chop up the block yourself, if you want small chunks, buy those.

Specialty Sundaes and Sauces

Make your own sauces. They are easy and add distinctiveness. Coffee syrup, for instance, is easier than grinding your own beans, since you just throw whole espresso beans into the saucepan. A tangier-than-usual chocolate sauce gets its blast from buttermilk. A rocky road sauce gets extra richness from sour cream and melted marshmallows.

The basic fudge sundae
6 oz. Vanilla Ice Cream (2 scoops)
2 oz. Fudge Topping (warmed to 140°F)
1 oz. Whipped Cream Topping
1/2 tsp Chopped Walnuts
1 Maraschino Cherry

4 sundaes

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon water
Dash salt
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds

Assembling the Sundaes:
1 pint chocolate ice cream
Whipped cream (optional)
1/4 cup miniature marshmallows
1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds

To prepare sauce: Place chocolate in the top of a double boiler set over, not in, boiling water and stir until melted. Add sour cream, water and the salt. Mix well and remove from heat. Stir in marshmallows and almonds.

To prepare sundaes: Place 2 scoops of ice cream in 4 ice cream dishes. Divide sauce evenly over ice cream in each dish. Top with whipped cream, if using. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon each of marshmallows and almonds over each sundae.

1 large sundae that serves 2 to 4

2 tablespoons gold-colored sprinkles (Serendipity uses real, edible, 24 karat gold leaf)
5 scoops rich vanilla ice cream, frozen hard
1 8 ounce dark chocolate candy bar, broken in pieces
1 tablespoon yellow peanut M&Ms
2 tablespoons gummie bear-type candies
1 edible wafer flower (from a baking supply store)
4 chocolate-covered cherries (optional)
6 varied-colored regular M&Ms

Place sprinkles on a plate and roll ice cream scoops in them until well-coated.
Place coated ice cream in a serving dish. Toss candy-bar pieces over ice cream. Artfully position yellow peanut M&Ms, gummie bear-type candies and wafer flower on ice cream.
Place serving dish on a plate and decorate plate with chocolate-covered cherries and M&Ms.

A note about corn syrup in fudge sauces.
Used judiciously and in small amounts, light corn syrup can prevent graininess, help to provide viscosity, and assist in providing the chewy texture so loved by so many of us when fudge sauce is poured over ice cream. Too much corn syrup results in sauces that are too sweet, haven’t a sufficient chocolate taste, and have odd or unpleasant aftertastes.

Junior's Hot Fudge Sauce
Junior's is famous in the Brooklyn area. But you don't have to live there to enjoy their rich, thick hot fudge sauce.

1/2 C. unsalted butter
3/4 C. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 tsp. salt
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 C. heavy cream
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the cocoa, chocolate, and salt, and cook until the chocolate melts. Slowly stir in the milk and cream and heat until the sauce is smooth and warm. Stir the sauce constantly and watch it carefully so it does not boil or stick to the bottom of the pan.
Remove the sauce from the heat and whisk in the vanilla.
Store any leftover sauce in a covered jar in the refrigerator. To reheat add an extra tablespoon or two of cream and stir constantly over medium heat until hot.

Not too sweet thick fudge sauce
This sauce will be too thick to pour when it is cold, so you must reheat it (instructions are below). This turns chewy over ice cream.

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 Tbsp. light corn syrup
2 Tbsp. water
Few grains of salt
4 ounces best-quality unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1 to 1-1/2 ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (see note)
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, sliced into thin pats
2 Tbsp. sifted unsweetened alkalized (Dutch process) cocoa powder (see Notes)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine the sugar, cream, corn syrup, water, and salt in a 1 quart, heavy-bottomed, nonaluminum saucepan. Set aside.
In medium heatproof bowl, combine chocolates and butter. Place over simmering water on low heat (water should not touch bottom of bowl); stir often until almost melted. Remove from heat and hot water; dry bottom and sides of bowl. Stir until completely melted and smooth. Add cocoa powder; with a small whisk, whisk in briskly until most lumps are gone (a few small lumps are OK). Set aside near stovetop.
Place pot with sugar-cream mixture over low heat. Stir almost constantly until sugar is dissolved, scraping sides of pot occasionally with heatproof rubber spatula. Increase heat to medium. Stir occasionally until mixture comes to a boil. Boil 6 minutes. The mixture should come to a rolling boil and may boil up to the top of the pan, but reduce heat slightly it if threatens to boil over. Stir occasionally (about once a minute); scrape sides of pan occasionally with heatproof rubber spatula. It may look like there is a layer of foam on top of the boiling mixture—OK. When the 6 minutes are up, remove from heat and place on hotpad near stovetop.
As soon as bubbling has stopped, add all of melted chocolate mixture. Let stand for a few seconds, then whisk gently but thoroughly until chocolate is incorporated into sauce (this will take a minute or two). Be sure to scrape pan bottom and sides occasionally while whisking. Whisk in vanilla.
Cool briefly, then pour into storage container. Chill, covering tightly when cold. To reheat: reheat only as much sauce as you'll use at any given time (repeated reheating and re-chilling will make the sauce grainy). Place required amount of sauce into heatproof bowl, then place bowl above simmering water on low heat (water should not touch bottom of bowl). Stir often until melted, smooth, and warm (despite the name, hot fudge sauce should never be truly hot when it's poured onto ice cream). Alternatively, place required amount of sauce in microwaveable bowl; microwave for brief intervals at 50% (medium) power, stirring well after each, until sauce is melted, smooth, and warm.

One quart. Stores in refrigerator up to 1 month. More creamy with the less chocolate, fudgier with the larger amount.
4 to 8(1-oz.) unsweetened chocolate squares
1/4 cup butter
2 (12-oz) cans sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt chocolate and butter in a large heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Add milk and water, stir constantly over medium heat 5 minutes or until smooth. Remove from heat, stir in salt and vanilla. Serve warm, or spoon sauce into hot sterilized jars and seal.

Fast Fudge Sauce
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (2 cups)
up to 1/2 cup sugar, to taste
OPTIONAL 2 to 4 tablespoons almond or other nut liqueur
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt

Heat milk, chips and sugar to boiling in 2 quart saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly; remove from heat.
In a 1 quart glass dish, stir the ingredients together.
On medium heat, microwave for 1 min, stir, then cook for another minute.
Stir in butter and vanilla until mixture is smooth and creamy. Serve warm over ice cream, cake or brownies. Store in refrigerator up to 4 weeks.

German Chocolate Sauce
1 (4-ounce) bar German chocolate
1/2-ounce unsweetened chocolate
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1 2/3 cups evaporated milk
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla

Melt the German chocolate with the butter in a saucepan over very low heat. Stir in the powdered sugar, alternating with evaporated milk and blending well. Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer until the mixture becomes thick and creamy, about 8 minutes. Stir in the vanilla.

Mexican Hot Fudge Sauce 1 cup This easy, freezable sauce includes Mexican bar chocolate, which contains sweeteners, cinnamon, and other spices. 4 ounces (4 squares) Mexican chocolate
4 ounces sweet baking chocolate PLUS 1/2 teaspoon each ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves 1 cup evaporated milk or evaporated skim milk 1/2 teaspoon Mexican vanilla

Coarsely chop the chocolate and place in a heavy, 3-quart saucepan. Add the milk and vanilla and cook on medium to low heat, stirring, for about 10 minutes, or until all the chocolate is melted, well mixed, and thickened.

CARAMEL Cream Ice Cream Sauce
4 cups
1 1/2 cups butter
2 2/3 cups sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 cups heavy whipping cream, not whipped

Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add sugar and lemon juice, and cook, stirring constantly, 6 to 8 minutes or until mixture turns a deep caramel color. Gradually add cream; cook, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 minutes or until smooth. Removed from heat, and cool. Pour into hot sterilized jars, and seal. Store sauce in refrigerator up to 1 month.

4 servings

1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup granulated sugar
dash salt
1 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
juice 1 lemon, 2 to 3 tablespoons

Combine cornstarch, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan; stir to blend well. Slowly stir in the boiling water. Place over medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture begins to boil. Let the mixture simmer for 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and add the lemon zest and juice. Makes about 1 cup of lemon dessert sauce.

4 servings

1 can (15 ounces) diced or sliced peaches in natural juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons peach brandy or Schnapps, or peach nectar or more juice
1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring or vanilla
dash nutmeg or cinnamon, optional

Drain peach juice into a bowl. Dice the peaches and set aside.
In a saucepan combine 1/2 cup peach juice, the sugar, cornstarch, and peach brandy or Schnapps (or more juice). Cook, stirring, over medium-low heat until thickened and bubbly.
Add the peaches, flavoring, and spices, if using. Stir to blend and heat through. Serve with ice cream, shortcake biscuits, or over pound cake or angel food cake along with a little whipped topping.

2 cups

16 ounces fresh strawberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water OR orange juice OR raspberry juice
juice and finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons butter

Hull and slice the strawberries; rinse well and drain.
In a saucepan, combine sugar, water, and lemon juice. Bring to a light boil. Add lemon zest, and strawberries. Heat through and then stir in the butter.
Remove from heat and let cool. Chill for serving over ice cream or desserts.

2 cups
2 cups fresh blueberries
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Wash and crush blueberries; add sugar, lemon juice and salt. Mix well. In a small saucepan, bring blueberry mixture to a boil; boil 1 minute. Add vanilla. Premove from heat, cover and chill.
Serve over puddings, cake, or ice cream.

makes 3 1/2 cups

1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
4 1/2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 can condensed milk
OPTIONAL chopped peanuts for topping

Combine brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt in a 2-qt. Microwave-safe baking dish. Cover and microwave on 700 watts for 4 minutes or until mixture boils, stirring twice. Add peanut butter; stir until smooth. Stir in evaporated milk. Heat 1 minute and stir until smooth.
Serve warm over ice cream. Sprinkle on chopped peanuts.
To store, cover and store in the refrigerator. To reheat, microwave at 350 watts* power for 1-2 minutes or until heated through.


3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon five-spice powder
4 1/2 ounces walnut halves (about 11/2 cups)
Vegetable oil for deep-frying

In small bowl, whisk together sugar and five-spice powder.
Place walnuts in small saucepan and add enough water to cover by 1". Bring to boil over medium-high heat and boil for 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and drain walnuts. Immediately return nuts to hot pan. Add sugar mixture and stir, off heat, until nuts are completely coated with mixture and sugar is melted.
Transfer nuts to foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and allow them to dry in single layer, for at least 4 hours or, preferably, overnight. If drying for shorter period of time, turn nuts once.
Fry nuts: Pour enough oil in deep-fryer or large straight-sided saucepan to come to depth of 2". Heat oil between 360°F and 365°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil.
Fry walnuts, in 2 batches, for about 1-2 minutes until dark brown, moving them around so they do not stick to bottom of pan. With slotted spoon, remove walnuts from hot oil and place on prepared baking sheet. Use 2 forks to separate nuts. Avoid touching nuts with your fingers as sugar coating remains hot for quite a while. Cool completely. (Walnuts may be stored in covered container at room temperature for up to 1 week.)