There are many types of ice cream sauces, ranging from the traditional to the unique. Chocolate ice cream sauces are very popular, as are similar sweet sauces with flavors such as vanilla cream, caramel and peanut butter. Fruit-based sauces are an ingredient in many classic ice cream dishes, with some having whole pieces of fruit in them and others appearing as just colorful, thick syrups full of fruit flavors. Some sauces are simply cream that has been subtly infused with flavors such as cinnamon, while unique savory ice cream sauces can be made from mashed avocado and sugar. Adults are able to enjoy ice cream sauces that have been flavored with liqueurs or other spirits, such as rum mixed with walnuts in a sugary base.
Of all the different ice cream sauces, chocolate is one of the most popular. Chocolate sauces can be made of just chocolate pieces or chocolate powder and sugar that has been melted until smooth and poured over ice cream. It also can be made from chocolate that is mixed with cream, butter and other ingredients to make a rich sauce. Raspberries, hints of vanilla or nuts such as almonds can be included to add more flavor to the sauce.
Caramel ice cream sauces are similar to chocolate sauces, except with a different flavor. The base of most caramel sauces is some type of sugar, with brown sugar being very common. The sugar is melted into water with butter and thickeners such as corn syrup. Flavors such as vanilla, or even some heavy cream, can be added to help enhance the sweet caramel flavor of the sauce. The color of the sauce can be made deeper the longer the sugar is allowed to cook, turning more golden brown over time.
Ice cream sauces made from fruit can add a lighter flavor with a different type of sweetness than other sauces. Strawberries, blueberries, pears and cherries are all fruits that can be boiled in sweet syrup until they are soft and then poured over ice cream to add color and flavor. Some recipes for fruit-based ice cream sauces strain the fruit out from the final liquid to create a more formal presentation.
Many people like to taste of liqueur and ice cream together. Mint-flavored liqueur, bourbon or rum can all be poured sparingly over ice cream to make a fast sauce. Cooking the liquor first can reduce the amount of alcohol present and develop a different, more concentrated taste. Caramel sauces make an effective base for infusing complex flavors such as the licorice taste in ouzo or the smoky undertones in darker liquors. Even red wine can be reduced with cinnamon sticks and butter to create a thick and decadent sauce to pour over vanilla ice cream.