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Ice cream desserts are any form of confection that uses ice cream. These desserts may be homemade, store bought, or commercially prepared. The most common types of ice cream desserts include ice cream cones, ice cream sundaes, ice cream floats, Baked Alaska, bombe, and ice cream cake.
The traditional form of ice cream, which is made with dairy products, is thought to have originated in the Middle East some time around the 10th century. Earlier forms of iced desserts made with ice and crushed fruit were documented as early as 200 BC. Ice cream is made by mixing milk, cream, sugar and fruit or other flavoring together then chilling until it hardens.
Simple ice cream desserts such as cones, floats, and sundaes use ice cream as the base. For cones, ice cream is scooped into either a waffle cone or sugar cone and served as is. Ice cream cones are typically served at an ice cream parlor and are eaten immediately to prevent melting.
Ice cream floats are a drink made by mixing ice cream with a carbonated beverage such as root beer or cola. Ice cream floats, which are also known as ice cream soda, were invented in the late 1800s and became widely popular in the United States during the early 20th century. Many towns even opened soda fountains in local drug stores to support the demand.
Sundaes are made by scooping ice cream into a bowl and topping with chocolate syrup, nuts, whipped cream, and a cherry. A banana split is a variation on the traditional ice cream sundae and is made by splitting a banana lengthwise and serving the sundae on top. Another sundae variation is the hot fudge sundae which uses the same ingredients as a traditional ice cream sundae with the exception of the syrup. Instead of plain chocolate syrup, the chocolate sauce is heated and poured over the ice cream.
More specialized ice cream desserts include Baked Alaska, bombe, and ice cream cake. Baked Alaska is a dessert made famous at Delmonico’s restaurant in 1876. It was named Baked Alaska to recognize the recent addition of Alaska to the United States. The dessert is made by layering sponge cake on a dish, placing a scoop of ice cream on top, then covering with meringue. The concoction is placed in a hot oven or flamed with a torch until the meringue browns and seals in the ice cream.
Bombe is a French term used to describe a molded ice cream dessert. The dessert requires several layers of different flavors to be frozen. Typically at least three flavors are used and the chef must pour the first layer into the mold and put it in the freezer to solidify. The process is repeated for each successive layer until the mold is full. To remove the bombe, the bottom of the mold is placed in a small amount of warm water to loosen then the mold is flipped over onto a serving plate.
Ice cream cakes are a form of ice cream desserts that can be bought or homemade. A firm cake such as pound cake or sponge cake is baked and cooled. Ice cream is layered on top and the entire dessert is frosted. For fancier versions, the ice cream can be added to a middle layer of the cake by cutting the cake layer in half and placing the ice cream in between the layers.
When I was a kid, my favorite ice cream desserts were chocolate milkshakes (still in the running!) and floats. I'd drink cola floats with vanilla or chocolate ice cream, or do a float with citrus soda and rainbow sherbet. That actually used to be a popular "punch" at weddings, teas and baby showers! You could almost always find a ginger ale and lime sherbet or citrus and sherbet punch at such functions back in the Dark Ages of the 1970s. Good stuff, though! It was easy to do and everyone liked it. I've seen many a beautiful silver punch bowl filled to the rim with the green foam characteristic of the punch.
I've heard about baked Alaska all my life, but I've never even been to a restaurant that served it. I think it's one of those trendy desserts that was a lot more popular 50 years ago than it is today -- kind of like cherries jubilee, I guess.
My mom had a desserts cookbook with these great color pictures. One of them was of a type of bombe that was rainbow colored and looked beautiful in the photo. I'm sure if I tried it, there's no way it would look that good, but it is a temptation. An expensive temptation, though.
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