Draeger's Cooking School Logo

Sweet & Social: Plan the Perfect Ice Cream Party

By Abigail Crayne

No dessert beckons us for an entire season like creamy, dreamy, ethereal ice cream—promising relief from the heat and a flavor to suit every taste. A summertime party themed as an ice cream social will please a crowd and make hosting a breeze. Ice cream socials are a classic get-together, with origins in the 1800s when commercial ice cream became more widely available. First known as popular parties in society circles, ice cream socials were adopted by churches and communities as part of fundraisers and fairs. The ice cream social still lives on and can be modified for contemporary enjoyment for all ages with an array of combinations, toppings, sauces and accompaniments. Flavors, textures and temperatures can be paired for combinations greater than the sum of their parts. While making ice cream from scratch is a rewarding experience, production of ice cream in multiple flavors for a large group might be best left to the professionals (consider the bounty of choices in Draeger’s freezer aisle). Instead, you can opt to focus on customizing the accompaniments and offer a unique experience of colors, flavors and temperatures.

Better Together: Play with fun combinations and maximize the flavor experience!

Warm Grilled Figs + Chopped Roasted Almonds + Drizzle of Aged Balsamic + Vanilla Ice Cream

Maple Bacon Bits + Bourbon Caramel Sauce + Chocolate Ice Cream

Sliced Strawberries + Crunchy Streusel Topping + Whipped Cream + Vanilla Ice Cream

Grilled Pineapple + Squeeze of Lime + Coconut Ice Cream or Sorbet

Fresh Raspberries + Sliced Fresh Basil + Lemon Sorbet

Pinch of Flake Sea Salt + Drizzle of Fruity Extra-Virgin Olive Oil + Vanilla Ice Cream


Grilled Fruits
Serves 6

Choice of fruit:
Figs: 1 pint, cleaned and halved
Stone fruit: 4 peaches, plums or nectarines, ripe but not mushy, cleaned and halved, pit removed
Pineapple: 1 pineapple trimmed of skin and sliced into ½-inch-thick rings
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Directions Preheat a grill or grill pan over medium heat. Brush the prepared fruits with butter on all sides. Place fruits on the grill, cut-side down if halved, or flipping halfway through cooking time if pineapple, cooking until dark grill marks appear, approximately 2 minutes total. Remove from heat and serve warm.

Maple Bacon Bits
Makes 1 cup

1 pound applewood smoked bacon (about 12 slices)
2/3 cup pure maple syrup
Slice the bacon crosswise into ½-inch-wide pieces. Add bacon to a large skillet over medium heat. Cook bacon until golden brown and crisp, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon from the pan and spread onto a paper towel to drain. Pour remaining grease into a heatproof container for reuse or disposal. Carefully blot remaining excess grease from the pan using a paper towel. Into the same hot pan over medium heat, add the maple syrup. It will sizzle and bubble. Immediately add the bacon and stir to coat, cooking for 30 more seconds. All bacon pieces should be lightly coated and shiny. Pour the bacon onto a parchment-lined baking sheet to cool. Store tightly wrapped and refrigerate if not using immediately.

Crunchy Streusel Topping
Makes about 2½ cups

1 cup rolled oats (not instant)
½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup light brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter,cut into ½-inch pieces
½ cup coarsely chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt and stir to blend thoroughly. Add the butter, using your hands or a pastry blender to rub the butter in to the dry ingredients to form pea-size lumps of the mixture. The mixture does not need to be uniformly blended and can have some unincorporated dry ingredients. Add the pecans and stir to combine. Spread the mixture into an even layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring halfway through the time. The mixture should be golden brown and lightly crisp. Cool before serving.

Bourbon Caramel Sauce
Makes about 2 cups

2 cups granulated sugar
¼ cup water
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter,room temperature
Pinch of kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract(omit if adding liquor)
1 tablespoon bourbon or other liquor (optional)
In a heavy 3-quart saucepan, stir together the sugar and water. Cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Cover the pan and bring to a boil over medium high heat, without stirring. Once the mixture is boiling, remove the lid. Boil liquid without stirring until syrup begins to brown. Once mixture begins browning, swirl occasionally to even out the color and keep hot spots from burning. Cook until caramel is a deep amber color, approximately 6 minutes. Off heat, carefully add the whipping cream (it will bubble vigorously and then subside). Return to medium heat; add butter and salt, stirring gently with a whisk until the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and add the vanilla extract or bourbon. Serve warm or refrigerate until serving.Caramel will store in the refrigerator for up to 6 weeks. Gently heat caramel over low heat before serving.