Sundae Sundays: Homemade Tropical Sundae

End-of-February/early March is usually not the peak period of ice cream consumption; I recall even that the Dairy Queen in my town shut down just after Christmas to re-open again in May.

A boisterous warm front, however, swept through Virginia during one of my weekend visits, and my ice cream cravings were re-activated with the 60-degree temperatures. I decided to create a tropical sundae at home.

Now, She-Who-Not-Be-Named (R. Ray, ahem) of the celebrity chef world has a recipe for a "tropical sundae", so naturally my stubborn self was intent on deviating from her creation.

Easy to do since "tropical" is a pretty broad descriptor. For my sundae, I was thinking coconut shavings, butterscotch (in deference to sugarcane), banana, mango, guava, and some sort of flavor of ice cream TBD when I reached the grocery store.


After rejecting Haagen-Dazs mango ice cream (too expensive), I decided on a coconut gelato (on sale!). Coconut, cream, citrus, and sugary syrup would certainly be an unconventional mixtures of flavors, but I was hopeful.

In an ideal world, I would have served my sundae in a deep curvy glass with a pink umbrella (a la tiki cocktail), but only cheap wine goblets were available. I pre-chilled my glass, then laced it with butterscotch and dusted the interior with coconut flakes.

It's difficult to conceive of anything drizzled with butterscotch to be dissatisfying, and my sundae was no exception. The coconut gelato was light in consistency but strong in flavor; the sweetened coconut, as I might have predicted, was cloying. I would have done better to go with something more savory or crunchy. No regrets on including the chunks of mango and guava and banana, whose tarter notes wonderfully accented the milky gelato.

I will probably repeat Tropical Sundae Sunday in the summer months, with some innovations on toppings and ice cream flavor. Provided it's a tad cooler in the coming weeks, next Sundae Sunday will be something heartier, perhaps even inspired by St. Paddy's Day...

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Joanna O'Leary