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Have you ever had an insatiable craving for dessert but find there’s NOTHING but a tub of "boring" vanilla ice cream in the freezer? Well, you can stop that negative thinking right now!
Vanilla ice cream isn't boring—it's a beautiful, sweet canvas awaiting adornment. While rainbow sprinkles have their time and place, we encourage you to push your creativity and think outside the box when it comes to ice cream toppings.
Imagine hosting a dinner party where guests can customise their own scoop of ice cream or gelato with an array of gourmet toppings, DIY style. We’ve come up with a bunch of topping ideas that cater to the adventurous palate but are still delightfully accessible to everyone.
Amarena Cherries in Syrup
Move over maraschino! These garnet coloured Italian cherries are prepared in a rich, dark syrup that adds sweetness without disguising the fruit’s beautiful tart flavour. These would be equally delicious on a scoop of chocolate gelato too.
Real raw honeycomb is loaded with healthy vitamins and minerals, but also tastes amazing when paired with dairy. Adding a spoonful to a bowl of ice cream will cause the honeycomb to solidify a little, creating chewy and crunchy bits that are a delightful contrast in texture.
Easy Hard Shell Chocolate Sauce
Coating ice cream with chocolate sauce then watching it turn into a crisp, breakable shell is almost as satisfying and nostalgic and smashing through it with your spoon. And it’s so easy to make at home!
Combine 150g of chopped chocolate (dark, milk or a mixture of both) with 3 tablespoons of neutral flavoured oil, like grapeseed, in a heatproof bowl and melt gently over a pot of simmering water. Stir in 1 teaspoon of dutch processed cocoa. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 mins. Pour over cold ice cream and wait for 30 seconds to a minute for it to harden. Try coconut oil or hazelnut oil for a different flavour!
Dulce de Leche
Popular in Latin America, dulce de leche is a sweet spread made by slowly cooking sweetened milk, and commonly spread on toast or sandwiched between shortbread cookies to make alfajores. This thick, caramelly sauce can be dolloped straight from the jar into an awaiting bowl of ice cream, or warmed gently and drizzled on a decadent banana split.
Berries and cream are a classic combination, but the tartness of raspberries is a beautifully vibrant contrast to sweet vanilla ice cream. Of course, you could simply dollop some good quality raspberry jam onto a lonely scoop and enjoy. Or, let a tub of ice cream soften a little, then add heaping spoonfuls of jam. Gently fold the jam through your ice cream without overmixing, creating a berry-vanilla-swirl. Pop the tub back in the freezer for at least an hour, then scoop and serve!
Praline with Cacao Nibs or Wattleseed
This recipe uses rich and bitter cacao nibs, but could easily be switched for earthy, nutty ground wattleseed - both have notes of roasted coffee that work beautifully in praline. And when broken or crushed over a scoop of ice cream, the bitter-sweet praline adds a pronounced crunch and a flavour that could be described as ‘grown-up hokey pokey’. We can also imagine shards of this served with an affogato.
Chocolate Covered Honeycomb
Speaking of hokey pokey, there’s nothing quite like toothachingly sweet homemade honeycomb. Our recipe uses real honey and is coated in dark chocolate for a snappy treat that is very easy to devour “just one more piece” and can be shattered and sprinkled on ice cream for a delectable dessert.
Freeze Dried Fruit
If you don’t have access to fresh fruit, freeze dried fruit is a wonderful option and available all year round. Fruit is picked while in season and then freeze dried at sub-zero temperatures, removing all the moisture. This leaves weightless, crunchy, intensely flavoured pieces of fruit to sprinkle or crumble on top of a bowl of ice cream. Powdered versions can be mixed through softened vanilla ice cream to make an entirely new flavour or used to make a naturally flavoured but still intensely coloured milkshake.
Ok, we’ve listed some delicious “safe” toppings, now for something a little more unusual...
Citrus Agrumato Olive Oil
Olive oil on ice cream isn’t a new thing. The grassy, fruity character of good extra virgin olive oil just works so well with milky, dairy products and thanks to social media, this unassuming ice cream topping (sometimes paired with a sprinkle of flaky salt) is being appreciated all over the world. Now take that one step further and try using a citrus infused olive oil like our Blood Orange or Lemon Agrumato on gelato. The combination is bright, zesty, peppery, creamy, refreshing and sophisticated all in one spoonful. This topping is definitely one to appreciate poolside while wearing oversized sunnies.
Slivered Pistachios and Pomegranate Molasses
Nuts are a no-brainer when it comes to ice cream. But the combination of vibrant, green pistachios and tart, fruitily sweet pomegranate molasses, creates not only a visually striking topping, but something that feels and tastes a bit more sophisticated and special than chocolate syrup and peanuts. This would be an amazing finish for a Middle Eastern themed feast.
Furikake is a nutty, crunchy, umami-packed seasoning and, roughly translated from Japanese, means 'to sprinkle over'. Traditional seaweed-based furikake is amazing on a bowl of rice, and this sweet furikake recipe is outstanding on a bowl of ice cream. Combine toasted sesame seeds, finely diced candied iyokan, chilli flakes, coconut sugar, and nori salt (or plain flaky salt if you prefer). The blend is salty, sweet, bright and textural, and blows hundreds & thousands out of the water!
Miso Caramel Sauce
Miso’s salty, deep umami flavour balances the rich sweetness of caramel and creates a sauce that strikes a perfect balance between sweet and salty is perfect for ice cream. Kaokao’s Miso Caramel Sauce is a butterscotch style caramel combined with their traditional handmade miso paste, and would be amazing on an ice cream sandwich.
When reduced, Balsamic vinegar’s iconic fruity grape must character becomes deeper and more intense with a caramelised flavour. It also becomes thick and syrupy, perfect for drizzling. Adding a few spoonfuls of Balsamic Glaze over vanilla gelato would be a bold and delightful finish for a dinner party with an Italian theme.
We just had to test this viral ice cream topping. There’s no way it could work, right? Well, we’re pleased (and surprised) to report that it’s good! We tried it with Fuoco's Chilli Oil and the tongue-tingling heat of Szechuan peppercorns, savoury alliums and crunchy aromatics contrast with the cool, smooth, sweet ice cream in a weird and wonderful way that must be tasted to be understood. Also, the vibrant red oil pooling around an ivory scoop is just so darned instragramable.
1.5h prep | 20m + 2h resting cook
This recipe makes absolutely no attempt to hide our love of chocolate. In fact, bet... Read more