When temperatures soar and you want to have a party, the first idea that comes to mind is a cookout or barbecue. Instead of standing over a hot grill with the sun beating down on your back, plan an ice cream social. It’s easy to execute, can be held indoors or out, and since both adults and kids create their own ice cream masterpieces, it is truly a “social” event.
Ice cream selections
Instead of buying a bunch of exotic flavors and concoctions with candy, nuts and cookies mixed in, stick with basic flavors such as vanilla, chocolate and coffee. Plain ice cream works best with toppings and sauces and inspires guests to create unique combinations.
In addition to conventional sauces like hot fudge and caramel, offer unique selections. Peanut butter slightly warmed in a microwave becomes a creamy topping, and a bit of honey mixed in is the perfect complement for almost any ice cream flavor. Macerate fresh strawberries and make other simple fruit toppings with fresh or frozen peaches, blueberries and raspberries. Set out bowls of canned apple, lemon and cherry pie filling to pile on scoops of ice cream. Whip up a big bowl of heavy cream lightly sweetened with powdered sugar.
No ice cream social would be complete without traditional toppings, but adding a few unique ones sparks guests’ imaginations. Besides diced fresh fruit, nuts, chopped candy bars, sprinkles and toasted coconut, try a few of these on for size:
- Buttery shortbread cookies
- Baked pie crust broken into pieces to be used as a topping or as a base for a pie-a-la-mode ice cream treat
- Shakers of cinnamon and cayenne pepper for a fun mix of spicy and fiery flavors
- Crisp bacon bits as an adventurous chocolate ice cream topping
Set-up and execution
Long tables lined around the perimeter of the venue work best so people can serve themselves buffet-style. Stock the first table with spoons and two or three sizes and shapes of dishes. Arrange the ice cream containers in a long galvanized metal trough filled with ice on the next table. Replenish the ice often but don’t use dry ice as it will harden the ice cream too much to be scoopable. Reserve the final table for the sauces and toppings. Display simple cardboard tags on the table in front of each item so everyone knows what they’re choosing.
Ice cream brings out the best in people and many deny themselves the pleasure too often. Truth be known, being surrounded by ice cream and toppings you can help yourself to is the secret fantasy of many adults as well as children, so sit back and enjoy making a simple dream come true for your friends and family.