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What's Better than Fried Ice Cream, with No Frying Involved?

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Fried ice cream shouldn't exist. It's the Lucky the Dog of the frozen dessert world: Its existence makes no sense. How can a dog be hit by a car—more than once! 2000 miles away from home! in outer space!—and live to tell the tale, panting happily the whole time? How can ice cream survive a dunk in hot oil?!

It shouldn't live, and yet...

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This is not technically fried ice cream. Read on to find out what it really is.
This is not technically fried ice cream. Read on to find out what it really is. Photo by Mark Weinberg

While fried ice cream does exist in the world at large (and once, long ago, in my college dining hall, of all places!), it does not—and, I would surmise, should not—have a place in your home kitchen. You're setting yourself up for disappointment. (And have you read the news lately? If you're anything like me, your emotional state is too fragile for that kind of uncertainty.)

This seems scary. I wouldn't do this! Would you?


So may we present a much easier path towards fried-like ice cream, which I first stumbled across on the website She Wears Many Hats. Unfried ice cream, as Amy Johnson of SWMH calls it, is not as rich or decadent, and it doesn't have that same hot-and-cold, heaven-and-hell thing going on.

But! But it gives you the same effect—an even distribution of toppings that hug all parts of the ice cream's surface—with no chance of your precious Naked Chocolate Ice Cream for Lovers melting into a vat of hot oil.

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Plus, it's (1) incredibly easy to do and (2) ideal for making in advance for a big group: Prepare all your ice cream balls, then store them in a freezer: When your rowdy friends or relatives come over later that day, you'll have a much less messy, much more... curated ice cream sundae set-up.

Chocolate ice cream works just as well as vanilla. (Who would have thought?!)
Chocolate ice cream works just as well as vanilla. (Who would have thought?!) Photo by Mark Weinberg

Here's how to do it:

1). Scoop your ice cream.
Store-bought or homemade—who will know once you cover it in toppings? Use your favorite scooper. (This fancy one truly makes flawless scoops.)

2). Get it in the freezer.
Manipulating your ice cream in any way warms it up (sad but true). So scoop directly onto a parchment- or wax paper-lined baking sheet, then place it back into the freezer until it's firmed back up. (If you're a really fast worker undaunted by drippy ice cream, skip this step at your own risk.)

3). Prep your toppings.
Crush animal crackers, pretzels, Oreos, Fritos, graham crackers, corn flakes. Chop toasted nuts and candied ginger. Gather sprinkles, mini chocolate chips, coconut flakes, sprinkles of all types. Add spices like cinnamon and cardamom. Add crunch with toasted sesame seeds or raw sugar.

Ready to roll!
Ready to roll! Photo by Mark Weinberg

4). Give the ice cream scoops a roll-around.
Dump the toppings in a shallow bowl, a baking dish, or a sheet pan with rims, then roll each ball of ice cream through them so that all sides are evenly speckled. (You may have to let the scoops soften up—just a tiny bit!—so that their surfaces are sticky enough to pick up your toppings.)

Pair toppings and ice cream flavors as you see fit. Ours went like this:

  • Strawberry frozen yogurt + crushed animal crackers and colored sugar
  • Chocolate ice cream + crushed pretzels and Oreos
  • Olive oil gelato + corn flakes, brown sugar, and toasted sliced almonds
  • Carrot cake ice cream + crushed graham crackers and coconut flakes
Ta-da! Easy at that.
Ta-da! Easy at that. Photo by Mark Weinberg

5). Back to the freezer.
I know this part is painful, but you'll thank yourself later, when you can present a tray of colorful, coated ice cream scoops to your party guests.

It's another stint in the freezer for you all!
It's another stint in the freezer for you all! Photo by Mark Weinberg

6). Serve!
The rest of the toppings—honey, hot fudge, whipped cream, fresh fruit—come now. You know what to do next:

Photo by Mark Weinberg

Are you one of those brave souls who's actually fried ice cream at home? Share your experience in the comments below!