Welcome to another edition of our virtual version of a progressive dinner party. This month’s Progressive Eats theme is an Ice Cream Social hosted by Barbara Schieving of Barbara Bakes. Our team has 12 of the most perfect endings to any party for you, especially when the weather is sweltering and we need to cool off!
When I think of ice cream socials, images from Hollywood films spin through my head … old-fashioned gatherings in small rural towns, girls in long dresses shading their delicate skin with parasols, young gents wearing spats and waistcoats, women fanning themselves in the heat, men in straw boater hats, and a band playing a jaunty tune in the town’s central park gazebo.
Times have changed just a tad 🙂 but the sense of fun and indulgence when we treat ourselves to an ice cream cone or sundae are still the same. And there is no better way to finish a summertime party than with frozen treats.
The 4th of July is coming up this weekend and if you haven’t already set your menu, one or more of these amazing desserts may need to be added to the lineup! Just wait till you see all the stunning creations these ladies have made for you!
The women in this group always amaze and delight me with their creativity, talent, and ability to make every single recipe not only extra special but also gorgeous. Every month I learn more and more from them and am honored to be part of the party.
Because my freezer is too full to freeze the container for my ice cream maker, I chose an adult version of caramel sauce, spiked with my favorite booze to cook with, a good Kentucky bourbon. I’m sure our leader, Barb Kiebel, will have many cocktails to pair with anything made with bourbon, LOL. And of course you can leave it out if you prefer, but the smoky bourbon balances the sweetness in a lovely way.
Caramel is one of the most versatile sauces you can make. Obviously the easiest thing to do is buy some great vanilla ice cream, scoop it into bowls and drizzle with warmed caramel sauce. Adding whipped cream, a maraschino cherry and maybe some sprinkles, gives you a dessert every child dreams of.
If the thought of trying to make caramel shakes you to your core or if you are sitting there shaking your head saying, “no way, I could never do that”, then I’ve got a good option for you.
When in doubt, buy it! My personal favorite caramel sauce is from Chef Glenn Dettwiler, (email: [email protected]) Le Mieux Foods’ Caramel de Beurre (French Salted Caramel Sauce). A small sole proprietor, Glenn makes the sauce by hand using only the finest ingredients. He is from Portland, Oregon so you know he has access to incredible products. The sauce is rich with the perfect degree of sweetness and incredibly buttery – just what you want in a caramel sauce! Don’t let the name fool you. This is a sauce made in the French tradition by a master – the salt is cooked into the sauce to balance the sweetness, not left whole so you have crunchy bits as you eat it. When you chat with Glenn, tell him I said “Hi!”.
My first thought is always to just pour my caramel over ice cream and dive in. But in a late night texting party I asked some friends what else we could do with it other than just simply eating with a spoon (my preference, LOL) and we came up with an impressive list, including:
- Caramel Milkshakes
- Banana Splits
- Caramel dipped apples and pears
- Caramel S’mores
- Chocolate Caramel Tarts
- Drizzled over slices of Banana Cream Pie
- Pear, Caramel, and Brie Quesadillas
- Caramel Apple Shortcake
- Caramel Popcorn
- Caramel Bread Pudding
- Pancakes with a Caramel drizzle
- Adding a caramel layer beneath chocolate cream pie filling
- Bananas Foster
- Banana Rum Caramel Cream Pie
- Swirled into homemade ice cream
What’s not to love in that list? So now that you have ideas for lots of different ways to use the caramel sauce, here’s how to make it!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
If you don’t already have one, go out and buy a candy/oil thermometer. You truly cannot make this recipe or any cooked candy that consistently turns out perfectly without one. I’m not kidding here folks. They are worth every penny!
If you are serving this to anyone with celiac or severe reactions to gluten, leave out the bourbon or use the vodka alternative. Some people have issues with the caramel coloring commonly added to dark liquors. Better to be safe.
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup *
- 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp heavy cream
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup bourbon, for gluten-free, use 7 tbsp potato vodka + 1 tbsp brown sugar ** or add more cream for a non-alcoholic version
- In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the sugar, water and corn syrup to a boil over high heat. You can gently stir as the sugar and corn syrup dissolve, but do not splash any of the mixture on the sides of the pan. Cook until the sugar is dissolved, washing down the sides of the pan occasionally with a wet pastry brush. Once it has reached a boil, continue cooking, without stirring, until it turns an amber caramel color, about 5 to 6 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and carefully stir in the cream and butter. Do not lean over the pan; the caramel will bubble and steam when you add the cream. Stir until cream and butter are fully incorporated. Return to the heat and simmer over medium heat about 2 minutes. This will re-melt the caramel and help the mixture become thick and creamy. Pull the pan off the heat again, stir in the bourbon. Let the caramel sauce cool slightly and serve warm or at room temperature.
- MAKE AHEAD: The caramel sauce can be stored in a bowl, jar, or bottle and refrigerated for up to 1 week.
- Yield: about 3-1/2 cups
- * Adding a little corn syrup helps keep the sugar from reforming crystals and becoming grainy. When you are making caramel, a little extra insurance never hurts!
- ** The distillation process destroys any gluten in the grains used to make liquor. But many producers add caramel coloring to deepen the brown color. Many people have reactions to the gluten in the coloring. If you are serving people with celiac or anyone who is highly reactive, use the potato vodka with brown sugar dissolved in it.
Create a New Tradition Today!
This recipe is part of our monthly progressive dinner party, Progressive Eats. See the links below for more inspiration and great recipes!
Ice Cream Social
- Waffle Bowls from Barbara Bakes
- Black Forest Ice Cream Sundaes from Creative Culinary
- Vegan Banana Split Popsicles from Stetted
- Raspberry Ice Cream from Jeanette’s Healthy Living
- Copycat Baseball Nut Ice Cream from girlichef
- Blackberries and Cream Ice Cream from Miss in the Kitchen
- Cassata Ice Cream Cake from Spice Roots
- Roasted Apricot and Shortbread Ice Cream Bars from Willow Bird Baking
- Plum, Blackberry and Sage Frozen Yogurt from The Wimpy Vegetarian
- Blueberry Plum Sorbet from Healthy Delicious
- Mocha Ice Cream from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
To see our upcoming themes and how you can participate, please check out the schedule at Creative Culinary or contact Barb for more information. We have a core group of 12 bloggers, but we will always need substitutes and who knows, if there is enough interest, we may consider adding additional groups.
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Rocky Mountain Woman
Mmmm… the bourbon is brilliant!
I’m kind of tickled with the bourbon too LOL!
I absolutely love that first shot, so masterful!
Thanks so much Chris – it took some work but I am thrilled with it … not bad for a non-professional photographer 😉
Um, drooling here! This is perfect for pretty much everything, in my book!
I agree Megan, I think it would make anything better, except maybe anchovies, LOL.
susan @ the wimpy vegetarian
The photos of your caramel sauce are fantastic. They give us such a wonderful sense of the texture and color of the sauce. And even though I’ve mentioned it, your new blog design is just gorgeous. LOVE. It does a beautiful job of showcasing your lovely photography.
Ahhhh, thanks Susan. It was a challenging shoot, but I caught a few shots that worked 🙂 And I really appreciate your thoughts on the new blog. It is exciting and a little scary to turn the whole thing over to someone else when it’s been your baby for five year. But I love it too and the feedback has been wonderful. Yee Haw!! 😉
Oh the gorgeous photos and the delicious caramel! I wonder why can’t we just eat it all from a spoon and not bother with other formalities of putting it on top of something :))
I totally agree Ansh, why bother with incidentals, we should just dive into the bowl, LOL!
Jeanette | Jeanette's Healthy Living
Gorgeous photos Jane and I can only imagine how good this caramel sauce is!
Thanks Jeanette – I love caramel and kind of got carried away, in a good way LOL.
Barbara @ Barbara Bakes
The sauce looks amazing. I love the dripping photos. This is the perfect addition to our ice cream party. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks Barbara. Thank goodness for a tripod and The Artist’s steady hand! I love your Ice Cream Social party theme, it’s perfect for the steaming hot weather today! 🙂
Heather | girlichef
Wait! There are things you can do with caramel sauce besides devouring it with a spoon? Huh. 😉 I’d be happy to drizzle this over ice cream (or tons of other things for that matter) any day of the week. It looks fantastic! That being said, my spoon is a forced to be reckoned with…
Ha ha ha Heather. As hard to believe as it is, there are other ways to enjoy caramel, LOL. Mine most definitely needs a lot of quality control checking 😉
I go weak in the knees when it comes to caramel and your bourbon version looks incredible! I’d pour it directly into my mouth and then try all your other suggestions 😉
I am weak-kneed with caramel too Liz. I like your idea to pour it straight in our mouths, LOL.