Ice cream makes the best scoop of dessert for the holidays

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Certain dessert traditions come to mind during the holiday season in general. There are pumpkin and sweet potato pies, rugelach and babka, yule log and fig pudding, and cookies left over for Santa and all the New Years weekend celebrations. .

Bakers may swoon at the thought of being able to whip up elaborate sweets and candies during the holidays, but I’m here to maintain that there is a perfect dessert for this time of year. And it’s ice cream.

Before you start throwing marshmallows and sticks of butter in protest, hear me out. Ice cream may seem like a warm-weather dessert, but I think it’s the perfect holiday treat for everyone – young and old, dairy-lovers and dairy-free alike.

And I’m not advocating that ice cream replace all other desserts on the menu. If you live to bake your favorite gingerbread cake or apple pie over the holidays, keep doing it! I don’t want to stop anyone from enjoying what they love.

But here’s why I’m making the case for ice cream as a holiday dessert.

As a professional cook who received frantic calls and texts while on vacation from friends who were less confident in the kitchen, I know how daunting it can be to try homemade pies and other baked desserts.

Many people assume that they expect to make their holiday gifts from scratch. And if that doesn’t happen, they feel like they haven’t lived up to the holiday spirit.

With ice cream, this problem simply does not exist. Sure, some find it fun to whip up a homemade batch. But I’m sure no one expects a pint of fresh mint ice cream waiting for them at the holiday table (unless that’s your personal tradition, and if so, then- I be invited?).

So buy the ice cream, especially if you have family members with dairy allergies, and don’t think twice. This jar of creamy wonder is your invitation to create holiday dessert magic.

Think of ice cream as the little black (or white or pink) dress of holiday foods. You can simply serve it with a spoon in a bowl or top it with toppings.

Dress up an ice cream sundae with toppings like chocolate sauce, peanuts and cherries.

For family celebrations, take inspiration from Kevin McCallister’s « eat junk food and look at trash » in « Home Alone » with an over-the-top ice cream bar. Let everyone raise their own balls with the toppings of their choice. Or for a make-ahead dessert that will produce the same childish joy, assemble a simple Neapolitan ice cream cake with store-bought items.

If you want to buy the ice cream and make some homemade toppings to go with it, here are some suggestions:

Every local ice cream parlor worth its salt sells a version of ice cream cake, and buying one is a wonderful way to support a small business and put a festive dessert on the menu. You can also, of course, make your own cake or pie.

To make a custom ice cream pie, take a store-bought or homemade cookie crumb pie crust, your favorite flavor of ice cream, and add-ins or toppings such as chocolate chips, chopped chocolate bars, Oreo cookies or crushed candy cane pieces.

For holiday magic, serve ice cream sandwiches with nuts and caramel chocolate chip cookies.

Let the ice cream thaw for about 10 minutes so it’s soft enough to stir, then transfer it to a bowl and gently stir in the toppings. Pour into prepared pie crust and freeze again. Garnish with whipped cream before serving.

If you prefer single-serving desserts, try making homemade ice cream sandwiches with some of your favorite holiday cookies, like molasses gingerbread cookies or peanut butter cookies.

This is perhaps the most obvious reason why ice cream is the perfect dessert for, well, any occasion, but it’s also an important reason: ice cream can rise or fall to serve a group of any size.

Ice cream is a treat for any size group, and you don't have to worry about it going stale in a few days.

It can also withstand being put back into cold storage as leftovers. Unlike cakes and cookies, you don’t have to worry about ice cream going stale or losing potency after a few days.

The holiday season can actually go on as long as you have ice cream in the freezer. Take a spoon and let the celebration carry on into 2023.

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