He let go of my tiny hand and reached up to a high shelf for the chocolate fudge topping. “What do you think? Do you want strawberry or pineapple topping to go with the chocolate fudge this time?”
“I think strawberry and pineapple would be best!” I squealed, rolling my eyes and smacking my lips in eager anticipation. I could hear the jars clicking together as Dad collected the sweet syrups along his forearm, which heightened my expectation of the cool, creamy, and heavenly bites to come.
“Let’s not forget the bananas this time!” I teased. He frowned at me, pretending to be annoyed. I was reminding him of a recent family reunion when he offered to bring the fixing for banana splits and forgot to buy bananas.
When we arrived home with overflowing grocery sacks, Mom would smile at Dad as though he’d been naughty, “For gosh sakes, Bob! Did you buy out the store? You even bought maraschino cherries!” Dad would wink at me. We all knew the cherries were the crowning touch to our delicious fun.
A recent conversation with my mother revealed that Dad’s love affair with ice cream started before I was a twinkle in his eye. In 1946, Dad was 19 years old, he’d just returned from serving 2-years in World War II. Shortly after he and mom married, Dad went to work for Mayflower Dairy in Hermiston, Oregon. There he worked as the company’s only ice cream maker, and as close as we can figure, that’s when his passion for the sweet, frozen confection began to bloom.
Mom once told me, “As a young man your dad went for chocolate ice cream. Later he became more of a purist and started favoring vanilla. He ate his ice cream nightly from a small serving bowl doused heavily with chocolate fudge topping and a cherry to top-off his masterpiece. He made the best ice cream that Mayflower Dairy ever had to offer and the company regularly sent him home with surpluses of ice cream!”
By the time my teens rolled around, I’d settled into the groove of loving the creamy frozen dessert as much as Dad. Whenever our desire for ice cream piqued, which was almost daily in the summertime, we slipped away to indulge ourselves with mountainous banana splits or to Baskin Robbins for hot fudge sundaes with “the works.”
In my twenties I did a re-make of an old recipe and came up with this Royal Ice Cream Sundae for Dad’s birthday, which became his traditional birthday cake. To this day I think of Dad when I crown this magnificent mountain of cream puffs and ice cream with decadent toppings and maraschino cherries. Dad never met an ice cream he didn’t like, and in his mind, the Royal Ice Cream Sundae reigned as King in the ice cream dessert world, just as he did.
Royal Ice Cream Sundae
70 frozen cream-filled mini cream puffs
2 quarts vanilla ice cream
1 10-ounce jar strawberry ice cream topping
1 10-ounce jar marshmallow crème, warm slightly and stir to smooth
1 small jar maraschino cherries, drained and dried on paper towel
Remove ice cream from the freezer and leave at room temperature for about 5 to 10 minutes to soften. When the ice cream has softened, stir it to remove lumps and then divide into two parts.
Place 1-layer of cream puffs in an angel food cake pan with a removable bottom. Spread half the ice cream over the cream puffs. Repeat with cream puffs and second half of ice cream; finish with a third layer cream puffs. Cover and freeze for 8 hours.
Remove from freezer 15 minutes before serving. Remove from pan by running a metal spatula around inside edge of pan; push bottom out and turn onto waxed paper. Using large spatulas, transfer ice cream dessert onto a cake plate (if necessary, return dessert to the freezer for 10-15 minutes if it begins to thaw or drip).
Drizzle with half the strawberry and marshmallow crème toppings. To serve, cut into slices and add additional strawberry and marshmallow toppings, as desired. Garnish with maraschino cherries. Yield: 12 servings
Variations: Be imaginative as the variations in making this dessert are endless. Pictured is two layers vanilla ice cream with chocolate fudge topping. Consider using 1-quart coffee and 1-quart chocolate ice creams with chocolate fudge and/or caramel toppings for pure decadence. For strawberry chocolate lovers try 1-quart chocolate and 1-quart strawberry ice creams with chocolate and strawberry toppings. Pair-up pistachio and vanilla almond fudge ice creams with strawberry topping sprinkled with toasted slivered almonds.
Cook’s Note: This dessert is fail-proof as long as your guests like ice cream, and who doesn’t? It’s one of my favorite dinner party desserts because it can be prepared well in advance and it makes a dazzling presentation.