December is a cruel month for the ice cream lover in your life. Ice cream's hardly at the top of our dessert agendas now, which means you may not be thinking about what to give someone who'll take sundaes over cake any day. Here are eight gift ideas to show how much you care. If your friend is a good one, most of these will presents will pay you back in kind.
Ice Cream Maker
Ice cream makers don't have to cost a fortune. One of the best home models, by Cuisinart, costs under $60. It comes with a bowl that has to be chilled in the freezer for 24 hours before churning, and can only handle one to two batches at a time, but that's the most a typical ice cream maker ever needs. This gift will definitely pay you back, and is reasonably priced enough that you can buy a second for yourself.
Ice Cream Maker, Fancy Edition
If your ice cream lover is getting more serious about home ice cream making and wants to, say, throw an ice cream party in your honor, consider this machine. It comes with a built-in compressor, allowing you to churn all day long if you want to (I have). The capacity is smaller than the Cuisinart's, but I've never had a problem fitting a standard batch of ice cream in here. Astute readers will notice that these are the same ice cream makers I recommended last year, because there's no need to mess with a good thing.
Ice Cream Cookbooks
Three awesome ice cream cookbooks have come out this year that should be on your gift list: Bi-Rite Creamery's Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home, and the Humphrey Slocombe Ice Cream Book. They each come from some of the best ice cream makers in the country right now, and include recipes like the best salted caramel ice cream you'll ever eat, goat cheese and roasted cherry, and Secret Breakfast (bourbon and cornflakes!). There's also The Perfect Scoop by David Leibovitz, the man who literally wrote the book on ice cream at home.
Ice Cream Delivery
While we're talking about some of the best ice cream in the country, you can ship Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream holiday pint collections around the U.S., $72 for six pints.
Herrell's Hot Fudge Sauce
Good hot fudge sauce is the easiest way to make ice cream even better, and New England icon Herrell's makes an awesome version, the kind that stiffens into something taffy-like as it flows down the side of a scoop. Herrell's website; $7 each
Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce
Want to try a more hand-made gift? Four words for you: hot salted caramel sauce. Get the recipe »
Ice Cream Disher
You can make perfect photo-worthy scoops of ice cream two ways: practice a lot, or get a disher. These metal scoops come with a squeezable handle to pop the ice cream out without fuss. A two- or three-tablespoon model makes a perfect average-sized scoop, and can be used to bake larger cookies as well.
Ice cream just tastes better when eaten with a long sundae spoon, which is handy for unearthing scoops buried under a healthy layer of whipped cream and hot fudge. They're the perfect accessory to these vintage-style sundae cups.