6. Bananas Foster
Have some ripe bananas hanging around? Skip the banana bread, which can take an hour to bake, and try this dazzler instead. Slice 4 bananas in half lengthwise and set aside. Melt 3/4 stick unsalted butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add 1 cup of brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the bananas and let cook until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Gently flip them over to fully coat them in the sugar mixture. Pour 1/3 cup of banana or orange liqueur or dark rum into the center of the pan, being careful not to let it splash. Stand back a bit and tilt the edge of the pan gently toward the flame. The contents will ignite and flambé the bananas. Serve the bananas and sauce over vanilla ice cream.
7. Avocado Chocolate Pudding
Rich avocado gives this pudding the creamy texture of a gelatin-based dessert, with the bonus that it can be vegan-friendly. In a blender, combine half an avocado, 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, and 1/3 cup cocoa powder. Purée until fully incorporated, about one to two minutes. Add approximately 1/4 cup milk (1 or 2L works well), in increments, blending until mixture is smooth yet still thick. For a vegan version, substitute rice milk, soy milk, or almond milk. Serve with a sprinkle of coarse sea salt, such as Maldon, over the top.
8. Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches
If you had a few hours free, you could bake your own cookies and make your own ice cream to create completely homemade ice cream sandwiches. But if you’re pressed for time, don’t hesitate to use store-bought ice cream and cookies or pizzelles (thin Italian waffle cookies). For the simplest ice cream sandwich, just place a scoop of softened ice cream on one cookie and top it with a second; to jazz things up, use a variety of different kinds of cookies or roll the edges of the sandwiches in chopped nuts, sprinkles, crushed candy bits, or any of your favorite ice cream toppings. Chill on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet in the freezer until the ice cream has hardened (about 20 to 30 minutes). The sandwiches will keep in a resealable plastic freezer bag for about 1 week.
9. Super Sundaes
Take your sundaes to the next level by garnishing your favorite ice cream with unusual toppings such as toasted bread crumbs, toasted pepitas, sunflower seeds, coffee liqueur, warmed fruit preserves, rum or tequila, toasted coconut flakes, warm coffee or espresso, or cinnamon and raw (turbinado) sugar. You can also substitute sorbet, which pairs well with warm chocolate or caramel sauce. Chances are your pantry is already stocked with several sundae-ready toppings, so it’s easy to set out an impromptu sundae bar any night of the week.
10. Whipped Pudding Pie
This pie is easy as…well…pie! Start with a store-bought graham cracker pie crust and a batch of homemade pudding or pudding from a mix (any flavor will work). What could transform such a basic dessert foundation into something special? Three words: flavored whipped cream. Whip 1/2 cup heavy cream (this will yield 1 cup whipped) with 2 tablespoons of your flavoring of choice and whisk the mixture until it holds stiff peaks. Some great mix-ins include pure vanilla extract, crème de menthe, fruit-flavored liqueurs, coffee or espresso, cocoa powder, or citrus zest. In a large bowl, gently fold 1/3 of the whipped cream into 1 cup of the pudding. Repeat until all the whipped cream is fully incorporated, then spoon the mixture into the pie crust. This dessert will be light and airy, not too sweet, and have subtle highlights of your favorite flavors. If you’d like, whip a little extra flavored cream to add a decorative dollop on top.