There are so many great quality ice creams out there that we are spoiled for choice. But even if you’re shopping on a budget for your ice cream treats, you can still crank up the flavor by adding delicious toppings to your ice cream dish, and I’m going to share with you some of my wonderful gluten-free favourites.
Gelato vs ice cream
First thing’s first though: gelato or ice cream. Is there a difference?
There is, actually. Gelato is the official Italian term for ice cream, but making it is a slower process than the traditional American treat we know and love. The Italians favour using whole milk rather than cream (giving gelato a lower fat content) and churn gelato at a slower pace than our traditional ice cream. This leaves gelato with less air in the mixture, and therefore offers a more intense flavor.
Ice cream has a more custard-like base, using heavier cream and also eggs.
A workout for the teeth (though sadly not for the abs), a crunchy nut brittle topping adds sweet depth to the flavor of your ice cream as well as a contrasting hard texture.
We’ve all seen manufactured nut brittle neatly packaged and sold in candy stores, but don’t be fooled; it’s super easy to make at home with 3 basic ingredients…
2 handfuls nuts of your choice (almonds and hazelnuts are best blanched to remove the skin. You can buy them ready blanched or you can do this yourself. To blanch the nuts, put them in a bowl of very hot water for about a minute, then cool them rapidly by running them under cold water in a sieve or colander. Rub off the skin, which should now come off easily.)
¼ cup white granulated sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Take a non-stick skillet and add the nuts, sugar and butter.
Heat over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring often so that the mixture doesn’t burn (especially towards the end).
When the sugar mixture starts melting, stir constantly until all the sugar is melted and the nuts are coated.
Allow to cool and roughly chop or grind more finely if you prefer, and sprinkle over your chosen ice cream flavor for sweet, nutty deliciousness.
Hot chocolate fudge sauce
When you are in need of a treat, or have guests to impress, nothing beats a glistening river of hot chocolate fudge sauce.
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp brandy
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
Pour the cream and brandy into a saucepan and heat until almost boiling.
Add the chocolate, syrup and butter and stir until the chocolate has melted and the sauce is smooth and glossy.
Pour over your bowl of ice cream and enjoy! Of course, you could also add a sprinkle of the candied nuts (see above) for extra yumminess.
A great and easy way to create a fresh and vibrant topping for your ice cream is to make a lovely berry sauce – it looks so good poured over vanilla ice cream.
8 ounce bag of frozen berries
1/2 tsp confectioners sugar (or more if berries are very tart)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Zest of 1/2 lemon
Pour the frozen berries into a saucepan over a medium heat.
Sprinkle the sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest over the berries and stir.
Cook the mixture down gently until it reaches a sauce-like consistency.
Allow to cool and pour over your ice cream.
I just love the texture of cookies crumbled over ice cream, and it just seems so decadent!
My favourite for this purpose would be my white chocolate chunk chocolate cookies, which go well with ice cream and can easily be made using the recipe I’ve linked to.
Going all-out? Sandwich chocolate ice cream between 2 cookies. Simply heavenly!
When you’d rather finish with coffee
When you want to finish your meal stylishly, with a dessert and a coffee combined, the most wonderful way is to do as the Italians do and make affogato.
You need to make enough espresso coffee for 4 little after-dinner coffee cups. Then put the ice cream into 4 dessert glasses or cups. Drown (the literal meaning of affogato) each with the coffee and serve while warm and melting. It takes around 10 minutes to make, and is great when you don’t want a dessert that’s too sweet.
I really hope you have fun trying out these toppings and share your creations with me on Instagram. If you have some great ideas for gluten-free ice cream toppings, then share those with me too!