An Ice Cream Sundae

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Legend drawn by Victoria Brehmer

There’s something magical about ice cream. In particular, there are two qualities I really appreciate about ice cream.First, I love how ice cream intensifies flavors. I don’t like many desserts because they tend to be one note and simply taste like sugar, but with ice cream you can capture a whole range of complex flavors. The numbing sensation of the cold further accentuates the experience by adding a slight delay before the flavor hit you.

The second thing I love about ice cream is how transient it is. Every kid has experienced those hot summer days where you have to race to finish a scoop before it melts, not to mention the occasional heartbreak of losing a precious scoop to gravity. Ice cream is all about savoring moment.

I first started making ice cream for utterly practical reasons. It was the only dessert I knew how to make. I continued making ice cream because ice cream is versatile enough to fit any theme. Several dozens of flavors later, my ice cream maker has become a fixture at dinner parties (and the source of much drama as guests wonder if the ice cream would set in time).

For Kristen and Sarah’s 25th birthday, I decided to take my ice cream making to next level and set out to make a sundae where each flavor represented a memorable place or adventure in their lives. It’s one thing to make one flavor, but making a sundae with complementary flavors turned out to be a fun riddle. After brainstorming at a bar, I was happy with the individual flavors that I came up with, but I knew there was something missing.

The sundae needed more fruit to balance the richness of the other flavors. Strawberry kept coming to mind, but I didn’t know how to tie that back to the theme. Finally, it came to me–“Strawberry Peri Peri.”  This invented flavor combined the classic strawberry flavor with Peri Peri, Swahili for “pepper-pepper and a seasoning used in multiple regions of Africa (I subsisted on Peri Peri cashews and beer during most of my time in Mozambique). This final flavor tied everything together and elevated the sundae to more than the sum of its parts. Once I figured out all of the flavors, the main challenge was simply finding enough freezer space for all eight quarts of ice cream.

I’ve included the recipes I used for each flavor. The base varies greatly between recipes, resulting in a variety of different textures and giving each flavor even more character.


  • Blueberry Balsamic (Maine, based on the recipe from the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream book)
  • Egged Nog (not a typo, based on a real life drive-by egging, recipe from Serious eats featuring 9 egg yolks!)
  • Pioneer Ice Cream (Smith College, based on a recipe from The Pioneer Woman blog)
  • Smoked Paprika and Chocolate (Budapest, sometimes you google random idea and magically find a recipe)
  • Sorta Rican-ellas (Puerto Rico, from BiRite; only flavor not handmade; making sugar cookies from scratch and then smashing them simply seemed like too much work)
  • Peri Peri Strawberry (Africa, an original creation made by adding one teaspoon of piri piri to strawberry ice cream)
  • Chappaquiddick Chocolate Chip (flavor and name inspired by Cape Cod Creamery in Cape Cod, used this recipe)
  • Cool Grey City (Earl Grey tea ice cream, a play on the title of a great book about SF. I used this recipe as a guide.)

And since no sundae is complete without toppings …

  • Bananas and dulce de leche (Guatemala; I could’ve easily turned this into yet another ice cream)
  • Jimmies (sprinkles if you’re not from Massachusetts)
  • Cherries
  • Whipped cream

The assembly of the sundae turned out to be a bit chaotic since it got cold all of the sudden (SF weather) and everyone was huddled inside. Nonetheless, the sundae turned out to be a hit. Many of the flavors have contrasting elements that make them interesting in themselves (paprika and chocolate, blueberry and balsamic) but the real victory was how all of elements managed to come together to tell a larger story.

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