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Originally published August 15, 2012 at 3:01 PM | Page modified August 16, 2012 at 9:45 AM

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Ice-cream sundaes, reinvented

Artisanal ice cream parlors are all the rage, but with some tips from their owners and a couple of recipes, you can make some of these great sundae creations at home.

San Jose Mercury News

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There's no doubt about the retro appeal of maraschino cherries, whipped cream cans and that ersatz chocolate syrup in a squeeze bottle. But it's funny to think they coexist in the same dessert galaxy with basil sorbets and pink peppercorn-tinged ice cream.

Anything as gourmet as ice cream from today's trendy, artisanal parlors deserves something similarly handcrafted on top.

So we turned to a trio of ice cream experts to help us reinvent ye olde ice cream social. The results include fresh lemon frozen yogurt, Farmers Market Sundae, extra-bittersweet fudge and even bacon.

And if there's a cherry on top, it better be a Bing.

Whimsy runs rampant at San Francisco's Humphry Slocombe, Jake Godby and Sean Vahey's trendsetting ice cream shop. It's known for eclectic flavors, including Elvis the Fat Years (banana, peanuts and bacon) and Secret Breakfast (bourbon-cornflake), as well as a the Hot Mess sundae, which tops vanilla ice cream with banana slices and homemade butterscotch and marshmallow sauces.

"We do things somewhat backward. With the Hot Mess, we came up with the name first, and then figured out what it would be," Godby says. "I always try to have a good balance of acid and salt, so you're not overwhelmed. If it was just a big gooey mess, I wouldn't be interested after the first three bites."

That's why most artisanal ice cream toppings include bitter, sour or salty notes. It's all about layering flavors and textures, Godby says.

Caramel and butterscotch are favorites of Kris Hoogerhyde, a self-styled "caramel girl." So it's no wonder that the lines that wrap around Bi-Rite Creamery, her San Francisco ice cream shop, are there for the signature salted caramel ice cream.

Salt is what makes flavors pop, whether it's on a scoop of that ice cream or sprinkled on a chocolate sundae drizzled with organic bergamot olive oil.

Hoogerhyde's favorite caramel is cooked to a deep mahogany hue, but she also loves a lighter, butterscotch version. Add a little scotch or bourbon, and you'll have Bi-Rite's "boozerscotch."

"The butterscotch is a caramel we don't take as far, so you're not getting that bitterness," she says. "We add butter to it, so it's really lush, and when you warm it and put it over ice cream, it cools down and becomes chewy. It's the same with our hot fudge sauce. As it sits against the cold ice cream, it get that candylike consistency, which I think is yummy."

Even the most strait-laced grown-ups get excited, she adds, when everything is homemade. Toss fresh berries with a little sugar and let them macerate until they release their own syrup, she suggests, or cook up a lemon-blueberry sauce to top a creme fraiche ice cream sundae.

"I'm a purist," she says. "A really good vanilla with fresh strawberries makes me super happy."

It's a view shared by Jeni Britton Bauer, an Ohio-based artisanal ice cream maker whose book, "Jeni's Ice Creams at Home" just won a James Beard award. Her wildly popular Farmers Market Sundaes use lemon frozen yogurt and fresh berries, macerated with Champagne, port or Grand Marnier. "

Sundae Ideas

Tin Roof: Vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce, frosted peanuts and Maldon salt

Hot Mess: Vanilla ice cream, butterscotch sauce, marshmallow cream and sliced bananas

Elvis the Fat Years: Banana ice cream, sliced bananas, frosted peanuts and bacon

Farmers Market Sundae: Lemon frozen yogurt, macerated berries, whipped cream and fresh herbs

Ohito Sundae: Mint ice cream, white-rum praline sauce, lime wedges, whipped cream and turbinado sugar garnish

Sam's Sundae: Chocolate ice cream with Maldon salt, bergamot olive oil and whipped cream

The Sundae Blues: Lemon-blueberry sauce over creme fraiche ice cream

Blueberry-Lemon Sauce

Makes 1 1/4 cups

1 lemon

1 pint blueberries, divided

1/3 cup sugar

1. Finely grate the lemon zest into a small, nonreactive saucepan. Juice the lemon into a bowl and set aside.

2. Add 1 1/2 cups blueberries and the sugar to the pan, then place it over medium-high heat. Cook until most of the berries have popped and the juice has thickened slightly, 6-8 minutes.

3. Remove from heat and stir in the remaining berries and lemon juice. Serve warm or at room temperature. The sauce will be best the same day it's made.

— Kris Hoogerhyde, Anne Walker and Dabney Gough, "Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones"

Extra-Bitter Hot Fudge Sauce

Makes 2 1/3 cups

1 cup water

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup light corn syrup

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1. Combine water, sugar and corn syrup in a saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve. Off heat, add the cocoa, whisking well to combine. Add vanilla, and whisk until very smooth. Add chocolates, and let sit 3 minutes.

2. Stir the sauce until the chocolate is completely melted; it will have a smooth and glossy shine when it is ready. Serve warm.

— Jeni Britton Bauer, "Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home"

Lemon Frozen Yogurt

Makes 1 quart

1 quart plain, low-fat yogurt

1 1/2 cups whole milk, divided

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup heavy cream

2/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup light corn syrup

Zest from 1 lemon

Lemon syrup:

2 to 3 lemons

3 tablespoons sugar

1. Fit a sieve over a bowl and line it with 2 layers of cheesecloth. Pour yogurt into the sieve, cover with plastic wrap and chill 6-8 hours. Discard the liquid and measure out 1 1/4 cups of the drained yogurt. Set aside.

2. For the lemon syrup, remove the zest from 1 lemon in large strips; reserve. Juice the lemons to make 1/2 cup; combine with 3 tablespoons sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve. Let cool.

3. For the frozen yogurt base, mix 2 tablespoons milk and cornstarch into a slurry. Whisk cream cheese until smooth and set aside. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.

4. Combing remaining milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup and zest strips in a 4-quart saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from heat; gradually whisk in slurry.

5. Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Turn off heat.

6. Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese. Whisk in the reserved 1 1/4 cups yogurt and lemon syrup until smooth. Pour the mixture into a gallon food-grade zip-top freezer bag, seal and submerge it in the ice bath. Let stand, adding ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.

7. Remove the zest from the yogurt base. Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and spin until thick and creamy. Pack frozen yogurt into a freezer storage container, press a sheet of parchment against the surface and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.

— Jeni Britton Bauer, "Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home"

Farmers Market Sundae

Makes 6 servings

3 cups blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, halved strawberries or halved, pitted cherries

5 to 6 tablespoons sugar, divided

1 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoons tawny port or Champagne, or 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier

1 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Lemon frozen yogurt

6 sprigs fresh mint, basil or lemon balm

1. Toss the berries with 4 tablespoons sugar, honey and wine, and let sit for 30 minutes to macerate. The berries will create their own lovely syrup.

2. Chill a large metal bowl in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Then add cream, 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar and vanilla, and whip to soft peaks.

3. Divide the macerated fruit among 6 plates. Top with 2 small scoops frozen yogurt. Garnish with whipped cream and an herb sprig.

— Jeni Britton Bauer, "Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home"

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