A dessert can't get much more ubiquitous or iconic than ice cream. The frozen treat is one of the most popular desserts in the United States, with Americans consuming an average of 20 pounds of ice cream each year, per the International Dairy Foods Association. On top of the metrics, ice cream is experiencing an artistic renaissance of sorts, with experimental flavors proliferating on social media and boundary-breaking chains delighting ice cream lovers long after summer has passed.
While ice cream remains a sweet tooth mainstay of children and adults alike, there has been a burgeoning movement toward the savory within the world of the frozen treat. While you may not be eager to chow down on a whole carton's worth of avocado, buttermilk ranch, or blue cheese ice cream, there is a perfect way to take this trend for a test run: Try out some unexpected savory toppings for ice cream. Whether it's a home-toasted peanut alternative, nuanced Chinese spice, classic junk food snacks, or a high-end delicacy, incorporating these offbeat savory toppings will unlock new complexities and greater depth atop each and every bowl you enjoy.
Toasted Sesame Seeds Add A Nutty Touch
When rounding up the components to assemble an ice cream sundae, peanuts are one of the first ingredients on the list. However, for any number of reasons ranging from peanut allergies to culinary curiosity, the adventurous foodie may want to try an alternative experience. The perfect subtle shake-up? Sesame seeds.
Sesame seeds are typically associated with savory food cultures of major sesame producers like China, Myanmar, and Sudan, with the image of American hamburger buns or tahini-based treats. But sesame has recently made its presence known in inventive ways on dessert menus across the globe, from macarons to artisanal black sesame ice cream.
If you're not in an area that carries these exciting (but still somewhat rare) desserts, try toasting some sesame seeds at home. Easily cooked in the oven or on the stove, topping your ice cream with toasted sesame seeds provides an interesting alternative to peanuts for just the right amount of savory with your sweet.
Fried Okra Gives Sundaes A Southern Flare
When thinking of what to pair with your ice cream, it may be helpful to think of what ordinarily pairs with other kinds of dairy products across various food cultures. For example, ultra-rich, buttermilk-heavy ice cream can benefit from a savory topping that's deeply rooted in Southern cuisine. Crispy fried okra, the low-calorie, fiber-rich plant that might typically get paired with sauces like ranch or remoulade, is right at home as a savory topping for ice cream.
Ice cream compliments okra's subtle, grassy flavor and crunchy bite in a similar way. Frying okra in whole spheres acts as a delightful emulation of the delicious, yet somewhat polarizing, strategy of dipping your french fries in a milkshake (at a slightly less devastating calorie count as well). Or consider cutting the okra into small nickels, frying them, and sprinkling them atop your bowl. This crunchy component is a tasty topping for anything that combines richness with a bit of tang, like a bright lemon curd ice cream or the rich sweetness of a buttermilk orange blossom ice cream.
Ice Cream Sizzles With Chili Crisps
It's everyone's favorite viral topping for a reason! Chili crips, which have dotted TikTok and Instagram's pasta, marinades, and mocktails for the past few years, also happen to be the perfect touch atop scoops and soft serve. Some of the earliest versions of ice cream were found in China during the Tang Dynasty in the form of sweetened buffalo milk beverages. It's no surprise, then, that Chinese flavors are a serious boon to ice cream's many flavor potentials.
Chili crisps have been popular in China for decades and usually consist of some combination of chili peppers, onion, garlic, oil, and seasonings. You can craft your own version of the condiment at home fairly easily or search for one of the best chili crisp brands at a local supermarket or online.
Give a light sprinkle of the crisps to up the wattage on any ice cream that deserves a little kick; the addition will provide a subtle crunch and a big flavor impact. Or let the crisps-filled oil gather in the bottom of the bowl for a much more exciting take on pooling hot fudge. If you sometimes find the sweetness of ice cream too cloying, the potency of the savory ingredients in chili crisps will help strike a balance
Read the original article on Tasting Table.