Most of us use particular condiments on foods out of habit. The convention differs among countries.
You can have the same adventure. Look beyond those and the other usual sauces (butterscotch, peanut butter, raspberry) or garnishes (candies, cookies, fruit, nuts), to what you may logically not think of.
We invited some friends and a few quarts of vanilla and chocolate ice cream, to pair with our atypical ice cream toppings. We also found some “matching garnishes” and made a sundae event of it all.
BIRCH SYRUP, which has similar uses as maple syrup (more about it). Garnish: Corn Flakes.
CHOPPED VEGETABLES, like raw corn kernels and sugar snap peas. We tried a mix of raw corn, popcorn and crunchy Inca corn kernels (like Corn Nuts), and had a heck of a corn sundae. These were the garnishes; we topped the ice cream with some golden syrup. If only we could have found some corn ice cream (recipe #1 and recipe #2).
COCONUT SYRUP, a popular pancake syrup and sweetener in Hawaii. Toss on some flaked coconut.
DATE SYRUP, called silan in Arabic, which refers to what we would call date honey, date molasses or date syrup. Garnishes: chopped dates and other dried fruits.
 Fudge, caramel, whipped cream and a cherry on top (photo courtesy Morton’s).
 Red beans, marshmallows, gelatin, and more in Japan (photo courtesy Sumally).
FLAVORED SALT, a few crunchy grains as garnish on top of the ice cream. We have a lot of these salts, from smoked salt to flavored salts (matcha, truffle, etc.). We’re glad to have another use for them (more about them). Especially nice with honey and maple syrup.
GOLDEN SYRUP, the pancake syrup of choice in the U.K., also used on ice cream (more about it). Garnish: anything you want.
HONEY: Plain honey is fine, but we loved using our flavored honeys (chile, cinnamon, lavender). Garnish: fresh fruit.
LIGHT MOLASSES, a.k.a. sweet molasses, also used as pancake syrup or a sweetener, especially in the south and other areas that had no maple trees. Garnish: anything.
MAPLE SYRUP: We used a walnut and raisin garnish. Trail mix works, too. And those crunchy Corn Flakes.
OLIVE OIL: Mild or grassy olive oils (link) make a delightful drizzle. Top with some crunchy sea salt.
PIE FILLING: No extra garnish is required, but we threw on some granola.
SIMPLE SYRUP, the flavored syrups used at coffee shops to make your hazelnut (or other flavor) latte. Garnish: anything you like.
SPICES: cayenne, chipotle powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc. For richer flavor, toast the spices in a hot dry pan until they release their aroma.
We had such a good time, we’re going to do it again, with other flavors of ice cream.
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