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Over-the-top ice cream toppings

By Elinor Klivans
Special to The Washington Post
Tuesday, August 3, 2010; 11:20 AM

If you're not up for the task of processing your own ice cream, consider making sauces for the good store-bought stuff instead.

Homemade sauces are quick and easy to prepare and can upgrade any scoop or two in a dessert bowl.

Fruit sauces provide one more option for using up surpluses of summer fruit, and they do not require cooking. Because the sweetness of fruit will vary, be frugal with added sugar. The goal: Add just enough to enhance the fruit's natural flavor. Too much, and sugar is what you taste, while too little will produce a bland sauce. Start with a small amount, and add a teaspoon at a time until the flavor seems right.

Caramel and chocolate sauces are best served warm, but their cooking is minimal. When making caramel, you may find that the sugar crystallizes and forms hard bits during the early stages of the process; not a problem. To produce caramel, the sugar and water mixture must cook to above 320 degrees. Any sugar crystals that form will melt at that high temperature, and the caramel sauce will become smooth.

Fruit sauces are best served cold. Cover and refrigerate them, and serve within two or three days. If covered and refrigerated, a chocolate or caramel sauce will keep for up to five days.

Recipes

Bittersweet Chocolate Fudge Sauce

Minted Cantaloupe Sauce

Raspberry and Peach Sauce

Salted Caramel Sauce

Klivans's newest book is "Chocolate Cakes: 50 Great Cakes for Every Occasion" (Chronicle, 2010).

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