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Unread 06-13-2016, 08:58 PM
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Wink The Ice Cream Party Done Right (and fancied-up for grown-ups)

from The Wall Street Journal: The Ice-Cream Party Done Right
Make the summer party an easy hit with any crowd
By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan
June 1, 2016 12:38 p.m. ET

Ice cream is a no-brainer when summer rolls around. One way to jazz things up: add an ice-cream bar to your dinner party. Sam Mason, owner of the New York City-based OddFellows Ice Cream Co., loves hosting ice-cream parties or having them as cappers to dinner parties. “Perfectly grown adults can change their personality when they’re around various toppings and gooey sauces and ice cream,” says Mr. Mason.

When planning an ice-cream bar, Mr. Mason likes to set things up on the dinner table. “You can use the same table that you had dinner on,” he says. Have guests leave the dinner table and mingle in the living room while you set up the ice-cream bar. “Use a different tablecloth—guests will see something different when they’re reintroduced to the room.”
Four varieties of ice-cream is recommended – two of which should be vanilla and chocolate.
Cardboard cups make things easier for the host as there’s less cleanup.
Include a sorbet, in case any guests are lactose-intolerant.
Try setting out adult toppings such as Kahlua-covered rice crispies or whiskey whipped cream.
Set out a blender and spirits or beer for guests to create adult drinks such as frozen margaritas or Guinness-chocolate floats.

Mr. Mason shoots for a buffet vibe. “You don’t want to seem too rigid,” he says, noting that he lays things out so guests start by picking cones or cups before moving to the ice creams and toppings. He favors using cardboard cups for easier clean up.

Don’t have too many different types of ice cream. “One would be too little, but I’ve also learned that there’s such a thing as too many flavors. No matter how many people you have, four varieties are enough.”
To keep the ice cream cold after setting up, Mr. Mason places the containers in a bin of dry ice or salted ice on the table. He says an ice-cream bar shouldn’t be out more than 90 minutes if the party is indoors. Outdoors, the ice cream is likely to melt much more quickly.

Toppings are where Mr. Mason likes to get playful. In addition to the usuals--such as rainbow sprinkles and chocolate pearls, “I do a really awesome cornflake granola that has honey and is salted, or salted walnuts are crunchy and delicious.”

Hot fudge or a hot chocolate sauce are musts, says Mr. Mason, who likes to make it in a chili-tinged chocolate sauce. Caramels are always a hit,” Mr. Mason says. “Salted dark caramel or raisin or chocolate caramels that have a great, dark sugar flavor and a viscosity are a must.”

Vanilla “is a must,” Mr. Mason says, because it can work well as a base for shakes. Another flavor should be chocolate, but “bring a chocolate that’s more unique—something with more bells and whistles, maybe something with chunks of chocolate in it or brownies.”

Mr. Mason likes to get creative with the remaining two varieties and is partial to flavors that have sweet and savory touches. “During the summer I like a raspberry pink peppercorn. Or, I do one that’s kind of like ants on a log [the celery stick, raisin and peanut butter snack].”

Mr. Mason likes to design a sundae that’s a little more memorable, such as a smores-inspired creation with burnt marshmallow ice cream and chunks of chocolate and graham crackers.

Be prepared to accommodate guests who are lactose intolerant, Mr. Mason notes. Mr. Mason has sorbets available such as lemon, mango or tangerine.What tends to work less well in toppings is anything too sweet. “Anything that’s candied, I find a bit too cloying,” says Mr. Mason. He prefers setting out fresh fruit such as berries instead of candied ones, although he does like organic candied cherries, which work well with savory ice creams such as miso.

When it comes to assembling your own sundae, less is more. “Go crazy but keep it simple—just do a couple of scoops of ice-cream, add something crunchy and then a little syrup drizzled over it,” he says. “If you put too many toppings on it, you can kind of lose sight of it. You don’t need to make it over the top.”

Mr. Mason likes to serve toppings just for adults—brandied cherries, bourbon caramel, whiskey-tinged whipped cream or Kahlua-covered rice crispies. (If children are present, set the adult toppings in a separate part of the room.)
Mr. Mason likes to take the adult theme further by setting out spirits and a blender so guests can whip up adult shakes. “Lime-tarragon sorbet works well with tequila—you’re essentially making a frozen margarita,” he says, noting guests who want to keep things simple can also just put a few scoops of chocolate ice-cream in a glass and pour in a stout to create a beer float. “Or, if you like a Dark and Stormy, pour that over a nice coconut ice cream and it’s awesome.”

Such parties can be slightly more labor intensive given the mess that’s likely to happen. “You just have to make sure to do a little maintenance—make sure the integrity of the ice-cream is still there, scoop off some of the melted stuff and discard it, make sure the tablecloth stays clean,” Mr. Mason says. “An ice-cream bar doesn’t have that wow factor when it’s a mess.”
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