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Spruce Up Your Easter Sunday Dessert With These Unique Sundae Toppings

NOEL KING, HOST:

Here's a way to make Easter a little sweeter this year.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ICE CREAM")

BLACKPINK: (Singing) Ice cream chilling, chilling. Ice cream chilling. Ice cream chilling, chilling. Ice cream chilling.

KING: It's hard to top an ice cream sundae on Easter Sunday, but that's exactly what Jack Bishop is going to do. Jack is one of the stars of the PBS TV show "America's Test Kitchen." He's got the scoop on turning vanilla ice cream into a sweet and savory delicacy.

JACK BISHOP: 2020 was a year of eating a lot of ice cream at home. Ice cream sales were up 12% last year, which is a huge amount for an established category. Now, exotic flavors is the buzzword here. Not that I have any problems with hot fudge sauce and whipped cream, but we're kind of kicking it up a notch.

KING: OK. Before we do any kicking, let's start with the basics - picking your ice cream.

BISHOP: Basically, the world of ice cream lovers can be divided into two people, people who want quantity and people who want richness. Turkey Hill, which is in a big half-gallon container, this is for people who want their ice cream in quantity because it has a lot of air. It's called overrun.

KING: I had no idea.

BISHOP: Well, they have to add air. So if you just took cream and milk and sugar and you froze it, you'd have, basically, an ice cube. And you wouldn't be able to scoop it. But the Turkey Hill is actually 97% additional volume that comes from air. Now, for people who like richness, our top choice is Ben & Jerry's. So this one just has an additional 21% air. It's got twice as much fat because it's got a lot less air in it.

KING: Jack joined me kitchen-to-kitchen over Zoom. Jack was in Boston. I was in Washington, D.C., with my dog Guglielmo (ph), who you will hear in the background.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOG BARKING)

KING: We tried five different ice cream toppings. And brace yourself because some of these sound gross. The first is everything bagel seasoning. It's a mixture of poppy seeds, garlic and dried onion.

BISHOP: Garlic and onion on your ice cream?

KING: Yes, I'm imagining onion flakes. And I'm thinking, who wants this? And yet...

BISHOP: And yet, here we are.

KING: I'm approaching this with some consternation. You know, there is something nice about the savory spices balancing out the ice cream.

BISHOP: I like the crunch.

KING: I like the crunch, too. The first bite or two, I was like, OK, I'm 70% there. And now I just keep eating it, which - (laughter) which I think is a sign that I am sold.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ICE CREAM")

SARAH MCLACHLAN: (Singing) Your love is better than ice cream, better than anything else that I've tried.

KING: Ice cream topping No. 2, extra virgin olive oil and flaked sea salt.

BISHOP: So we're going to do a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. And so this is, you know, a place to use the good stuff. And then a pinch of the sea salt on top of the ice cream. You're going to taste the olive oil in a way you've never tasted it before.

KING: OK. Let me try. Oh, God. That is really good. This is delicious. And you're right. I'm used to using olive oil as kind of a cooking aid or mainly tasting it with, like, you know, on bread, on bruschetta. But it's great.

BISHOP: It's also very fruity. You know, olives are a fruit. We don't really think of them as a fruit. But it tastes much more fruity than it does in almost any other application.

KING: This is a whole new world. I am really enjoying this.

BISHOP: Remember, pace yourself. We have more ice cream ahead of us.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE ICE CREAM SONG")

SUPER SIMPLE SONGS: (Singing) I said one scoop, two scoops. Two scoops for me, please. Two scoops for me.

BISHOP: You ready for combination No. 3? - maple syrup and bacon. I know you're from maple syrup country. So you're using maple syrup, not pancake syrup, yes?

KING: That is correct - pure New York maple syrup.

BISHOP: All right. I'm using something from Vermont.

KING: All right. Let's dig in. Oh, God. That is dangerously good. This is why ice cream eater-ship went up 12%. Wow. This is amazing. Jack, you're going to give me a problem here, man.

BISHOP: I'm giving you solutions, not problems.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ICE CREAM MAN")

VAN HALEN: (Singing) I'm your ice cream man. Stop me when I'm passing by. See, now, all my flavors are guaranteed to satisfy. Hold on a second, babe.

KING: Next topping up, chopped, salted peanuts and jams.

BISHOP: I'm using raspberry jam. And I'm going to put it in the microwave for maybe 10 or 15 seconds just so that it's a little bit more fluid and more like a sauce.

KING: I am using peach jalapeno jam that I got this summer. We'll see how this goes.

BISHOP: Again, we want a little bit of the saltiness. And also, this is about crunch.

KING: I think I do not have the right jam. I think this peach jalapeno situation is very good in some circumstances. But it's a little bit - with the peanuts, there's just too much flavor happening.

BISHOP: Yeah. That makes sense. This might actually be my least favorite combination so far. It's a little bit more expected than some of the other things we've tasted.

(SOUNDBITE OF ALEX MESNA'S "ASPETTIAMOCI (MAZUKRA)")

KING: Our last ice cream topping was inspired by Old World Italian cooking.

BISHOP: Go to a nice Italian restaurant. Sometimes you'll finish the meal with a bowl of beautiful strawberries. And so we are going to sort of make a version of a strawberry topping with brown sugar, black pepper, vinegar and then chopped strawberries.

KING: Huh. I'm having a reaction. It takes a little getting used to.

BISHOP: You're tasting a sort of sour, tart, kind of woodsy notes because, you know, balsamic vinegar is aged in wood cast. So I have to ask, do you have a favorite?

KING: I am going to tell you that I think bacon and maple syrup is out of this world. That was by far my favorite. What was your favorite?

BISHOP: I love the olive oil and the flake sea salt. That, for me, is a revelation.

KING: Which one didn't work for you?

BISHOP: My least favorite was, actually, probably, the jam and the salted peanuts. It wasn't that it didn't work. But I was kind of bored by it.

KING: I'm with you on that.

BISHOP: So if you're thinking about, you know, something interesting at the end of a meal, put out multiple things. And then let people do their own thing, right?

KING: It's like sundae bars when we were little and someone - the cool kid would have a sleepover. And the parents would just line up bowls of M&Ms and pretzels. This is that but for grown-ups. I love it and will likely steal that idea and use it the next time I'm able to have people over (laughter).

BISHOP: Well, thanks for having, you know, a power lunch here of five bowls of ice cream.

KING: This was really fun. Thank you for joining us. And I hope we get a chance to do another one of these soon.

BISHOP: Great. Thank you. And don't eat any more ice cream.

KING: Oh, God. No. I'm done. I'm so done - I think. I'm almost done.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ICE CREAM")

MIKA: (Singing) I want your ice cream. I want it lying in the sun.

KING: Jack Bishop hosts the PBS show "America's Test Kitchen." Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.