Sunday, November 10, 2013

Delicious Ice Cream Topping with Unexpected Ingredients

Dried fruits simmered in simple syrup make a rich and luscious topping.

Prohibition was an era of contrasts. While speakeasy's may have been the underground refreshment choice of many, soda shops brightened up main streets with shining counters and back bars filled with syrups and toppings.

You can learn all about the era at MOHAI's great exhibit "American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition"  And you can taste the delights of the time for yourself with easily made treats in your own kitchen.

Chocolate ice cream sundaes and sodas were the nation's favorite during the Prohibition Era. But dried fruits must have been a close second. Recipes from the 1920s are filled with raisins, dates, figs, and even prunes. Those "dried plums" were so prevalent during World War I that they were even called "soldier's strawberries."

The basis for this easy-to-make and wonderfully delightful sauce is simple syrup. The sugar and water simple syrup combination will keep in the refrigerator for weeks. The topping would keep about as long, until you discover how delicious it tastes poured over vanilla or chocolate ice cream, frozen yogurt, pound cake, or even waffles.

I've called it "Special" and that way the topic of prunes as a key ingredient never has to come up!

Special Topping

1 cup simple syrup (made from 1 cup water and 1 cup granulated sugar)
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup chopped raisins
1/2 cup chopped citron, found with fruitcake ingredients at holiday season
1/2 cup chopped prunes

To make simple syrup, put one cup water in a medium-sized saucepan. Gradually add the sugar and cook over low heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Measure out one cup and set the remainder aside for another use. Combine the one cup syrup with the dried fruits. Simmer over low heat until the fruits have combined into a smooth sauce. Makes about 2 cups of sauce. Store unused sauce in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Copyright 2013 Rae Katherine Eighmey from Soda Shop Salvation: Recipes and Stories from the Sweeter Side of Prohibition. Published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press.

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