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How-To

A La Mode Desserts, Perfectly Paired

Forget plain vanilla. When you pair the right ice cream with the right dessert, magic happens.

August/September 2015 Issue
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Imagine a soft, chewy peanut butter blondie. yum. now imagine that blondie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. yummier still. now swap out that vanilla for a rich caramel ice cream laced with ribbons of gooey fudge. oh yeah, now we’re talking, right?

We’ve been spending a lot of time lately thinking about how well ice cream goes with other desserts. In fact, we’re writing a whole book on the subject. our research has required us to taste lots and lots of à la mode duos (yes, it’s a tough job), and one thing that’s become crystal clear along the way is that a great pairing is as much about the ice cream as it is about the dessert.

Think of ice cream as a frozen sauce

As it melts onto the dessert, flavors and textures begin to meld. basic notes, like sweet, sour, or even bitter, are enhanced, and accents are balanced. More than the sum of their parts, these two things that are very good on their own transform, becoming better—even extraordinary—together.

Knowing this, you wouldn’t go to the trouble of baking a terrific homemade dessert and then just plop a scoop of supermarket vanilla on it, would you? No, that would be like wearing sneakers with your evening gown or tux. Your homemade dessert deserves a homemade sauce, too—one whose flavors have been thoughtfully coordinated to match. Below, you’ll find four of our favorite ice cream and dessert ensembles. And we’re busy dreaming up many, many more. That book we mentioned earlier—fittingly called À La Mode—is due out next summer. Consider this your personal preview.

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