Joy to the Swirled!
For better or for worse, the holiday social season has arrived with a flourish of jingle bells and off-key carols. And we know that you have a hundred things to worry about this time of year: Should you invite weird Uncle Leon to the big holiday meal? Will there be enough linen napkins for everyone? Which type of tree should you get? Is it too late to send out a holiday card? Who’s having the best New Year’s Eve party?
These are big questions. Important questions. But when it comes to prepping the freezer for your biggest holiday gatherings, we have you covered. Look no further, holiday reveler, for we have been garnishing the holidays with just the right ice cream accoutrements since long before the Grinch stole Christmas.
Here’s our sage advice for holiday hosts:
Surprises Are for Gift-Giving, Not Meal Prep
If you’re hosting a potluck-style meal and having guests bring dishes, make sure you know in advance what everyone is bringing. No holiday table needs three green bean casseroles and no dessert pies. Make sure there’s an array of desserts for all tastes: something vegan for cousin Willow, something chocolate for the chocoholics at the table, the traditional apple and pumpkin pies, and Great Aunt Flora’s famous gelatin salad, of course. Once you know what the dessert array will look like, carefully choose your accompanying ice cream flavors. We suggest these classic standbys:
- Vanilla: Some people just aren’t into fancy chunks and swirls and want to keep it simple. Can’t blame ‘em.
- Chocolate Therapy: Another classic that will please a crowd, this flavor goes well on almost any dessert.
- Cinnamon Buns: This cinnamon-y flavor is a stunning accompaniment to apple pie, mince pie, and pumpkin pie.
- Strawberry Cheesecake: Ahh-mazing on top of cheesecake.
- Blueberry Vanilla Graham Greek: The best way to make blueberry pie even blueberrier.
- Blondie Ambition: For turtle pie, pecan pie, vanilla caramel pie, and crème brûlée, this buttery accent can do no wrong.
- Chunky Monkey: Your banana cream pie won’t know what hit it.
- Coffee Coffee BuzzBuzzBuzz: Perfect for chocolate cake or tiramisu.
- Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy: For all your vegan or otherwise non-dairy-eating friends and family, these four flavors are an unforgettable dessert all on their own.
Keep in mind that some people don’t love chunks in their ice cream, and some folks won’t want to overpower their dessert with a busy flavor. We suggest a range of flavors that will complement the dessert spread and accommodate a broad range of tastes.
Pro tip: take your pints out of the freezer 10-15 minutes before you plan on serving dessert to let them soften. Everyone’s forearms will thank you.
Sundae Bar, Anyone?
If your gathering will have a number of people who are all-out ice cream fans who would choose a heaping bowl of ice cream over any pie or cake, a sundae bar is the perfect way to appease them. It’s also a great solution for kids who may turn their noses up at grown-up desserts like mince pie and rum cake. We suggest toppings that will please a crowd (sprinkles, crushed-up candy bars, coconut flakes, toasted nuts, and cut-up fruit) and this genius slow-cooker toppings bar.
For ice cream flavors, a variety is key:
- Vanilla is a must.
- Chocolate, in the form of Chocolate Therapy or Chocolate Fudge Brownie is non-negotiable.
- Caramel lovers will appreciate Salted Caramel Core.
- Strawberry Cheesecake is universally loved.
- We’d bet a couple guests would go wild over some Chunky Monkey.
- And you can’t go wrong with a couple wacky flavors like Half Baked or The Tonight Dough.
Late Night Munchies
After the leftovers are safely put away, the kids are asleep, and the energy of the evening has died down a bit, your guests might enjoy a late-night snack. We’ve made quite a few guests happy over the years with these late-night munchies:
- Mini brownie sundaes. Make the brownies the day before so they’re ready to top with everyone’s favorite flavors.
- Boozy milkshakes. Who’d say no to a chocolate mudslide? And you can get creative with your recipe: blend the crowd’s favorite ice cream with a complementary liqueur (optional, for guests over 21, of course) and just enough milk to get the consistency to your liking. Smiles pretty much guaranteed.
- Beer pour-over. Blow your craft beer-loving friends’ minds by pouring their favorite brew over a complementary Ben & Jerry’s flavor.
- Affogato: For the late-night caffeine lovers, suggest an affogato: cold-brew coffee poured gently over a scoop of their favorite flavor (we suggest Coffee Coffee BuzzBuzzBuzz, Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Coffee Toffee Bar Crunch, or Triple Caramel Chunk). For vegan friends, this is especially wonderful with Coffee Caramel Fudge.
- Ice Cream Float: Simple. Classic. Infinitely customizable. Need we say more?
- Hot Chocolate: What better way to wind down the evening than with a rich hot chocolate with a scoop of Phish Food or Americone Dream?
Don’t Forget About Tomorrow Morning!
Are your guests staying over? Don’t forget about breakfast! Or brunch, if yours is a sleep-in crowd. We are head-over-heals in love with these unique breakfast recipes:
- Ben & Jerry’s Bacon Breakfast Sandwich. Yup, it’s just as decadent as it sounds.
- Sunday Sundae Waffles. Who doesn’t love waffles? People we don’t associate with, that’s who.
- Vanilla French Toast. French toast. Made with ice cream. That is all.
And that affogato? Also amazing with breakfast.
How do you like to entertain with Ben & Jerry’s? Do you have tips for stocking your freezer before a big holiday gathering? Share your tips and secrets with us in the comments below!