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Ice cream, dressed up

(article, Culinate staff)

While we all like our ice cream served straight up — cone or bowl optional — we recognize that sometimes the pure stuff can seem plain jane. So we appreciate ice cream dolled up with sauces, fruit, crunchy snacks, and other goodies. (And no, we're not going to take sides in the West Coast/East Coast war over sprinkles vs. jimmies.)

It's hard to resist banana splits, even if you really need two or more people to finish one off. Grownups like crêpes served belle hélène style: with poached pears, vanilla ice cream, and chocolate sauce, while kids can appreciate the simple pleasures of a "dusty road": cocoa sprinkled on top of vanilla ice cream — and stirred together until it's as smooth as soft-serve.

And the truly hard-core like their scoops drowned the Italian way: affogato, or doused with a shot or two of fresh espresso.

Here are some ways we enjoy the cold stuff:

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#(clear n1). [%image raspberry float='clear right' width=200]Raspberry Coulis. You can use this sauce in cocktails or over panna cotta, but it's fab over vanilla ice cream, too.

#(clear n2). [%image blackberry float='clear right' width=200]Blackberry-Sangiovese Coulis. A rich berry sauce for grownups, with a kick from red wine. Try it on chocolate ice cream.

#(clear n3). [%image caramel float='clear right' width=200]Caramel Sauce. This thick sauce is ready in almost no time, and it's far superior to anything you can buy at the store.

#(clear n4). [%image chocolate float='clear right' width=200]Chocolate Syrup. The classic — except that this time you've made it yourself instead of opening a can of Hershey's syrup.

#(clear n5). [%image reference-image float='clear right' width=200]Toffee Brittle with Chocolate and Sea Salt. Make a batch of this candy (it's faster to make than you think) and smash it up good for sprinkling on ice cream.

#(clear n6). [%image soda float='clear right' width=200]Ice Cream Sodas. Ina Garten's take on ice-cream sodas is a quick-assembly dessert that can be easily served to a crowd — say, at your next garden party.

#(clear n7). [%image bananas float='clear right' width=200]Ice Cream with Bananas, Rum, and Cream. Diane Morgan's quick-but-fancy banana dessert requires no cooking.

#(clear n8). [%image sandwich float='clear right' width=200]Ice Cream Sandwiches with Honey-Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. Not a topping, but this David Lebovitz dessert is a grownup's version of those freezer-burned, paper-wrapped sandwiches you ate as a kid. And hey, the oatmeal and raisins make it healthy, right?

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