I really enjoy ice cream, which is something that's perfectly acceptable during the hot days of summers. Once autumn rolls in, however, my love of ice cream gets a couple of odd looks. By December, I'm a weirdo for having ice cream in the freezer, let alone wanting to go out to one of the local ice cream parlors for some scoops.
However, we should all be "weirdos" and partake in this frozen treat during the colder months. Sure, the cooling relief of ice cream that you get in the summer isn't there, but the sweet, comforting lusciousness is still great even when you feel the icy grip of the Snow Miser.
The key is to prepare ice cream for winter so that it works with, and not against, the season.
Warm up the ice cream
If one of your concerns about eating ice cream in the winter is that it's too cold, then it's time to heat things up a bit. I don't mean that you put the ice cream in the microwave to get ice cream soup. Instead, pair ice cream with hot treats. Hot fudge is a natural place to start, but there are other options out there.
1. Pair with a warm dessert. I'm all about putting a brownie and a scoop of ice cream together no matter the season, because the hot brownie provides a chewy contrast to the ice cream's smoothness. The brownie will also soak up all that melted ice cream, taking on the colder dessert's flavor. If a brownie isn't your speed, try a warm seasonal fruit topping. This pear compote, for instance, brings in ginger and vanilla, two other winter flavors that dovetail naturally with ice cream. Me, I like this citrus-cranberry compote warmed a bit beyond the recipe-recommended room temperature over a scoop of chocolate.
2. Serve up a homemade hot chocolate float. Ice cream floats great when the weather is hot — I'm from Georgia; some of us live on Coke floats in the summer — but they can serve the same temperature juxtaposition when it's cold outside, too. A hot chocolate float brings together one classic winter beverage with ice cream. This hot chocolate float recipe calls for the addition of hot fudge along the rim of the glass, but I typically use a dark cocoa powder for my hot chocolate and don't want the extra sweetness.
If you'd prefer a boozier hot drink, this tipsy affogato adds a hazelnut liqueur to strong coffee and ice cream (and it'll probably work just fine with hot chocolate, too, if you don't like coffee).
Celebrate the cold with seasonal flavors
Maybe you want to embrace the season more directly by bringing in tastes and flavors associated with winter and the holidays ... and maybe you also want to try and make your own ice cream at the same time. Here are three different recipes to get you started.
1. Eggnog ice cream. For many, eggnog is the reason for the season, so it should be enjoyed in a number of ways, and ice cream is one. This recipe for eggnog ice cream includes rum, so it may not be appropriate for the under-21 eggnog lovers.
2. Dark chocolate gingerbread ice cream. For others, like myself, gingerbread is the real reason for the season. Instead of biting the heads off gingerbread Santas, this ice cream gives you a kick of ginger — OK, maybe a few kicks — while balancing it with some other winter spices and chunks of dark chocolate.
3. Brown sugar and cinnamon ice cream. Maybe we haven't hit your flavor profile yet, so how about a simple brown sugar and cinnamon ice cream? The upside of this particular ice cream is that you can use it in lieu of vanilla when you pair it with pies or cobblers that sport some cinnamon. Instead of complementing the flavors, enhance them.
With these options, there's no reason not to curl up next to a warm fire with a big bowl of ice cream, like a good weirdo.