You are so Nashville if…you can’t remember a holiday without Peppermint Stick Ice Cream with Chocolate Sauce. The cultural shift toward this pillar of holiday desserts can be traced back to the 1980s when Nashville’s Purity Dairies first opened their ice cream manufacturing plant and soon after introduced peppermint ice cream during the holiday season. Savvy home cooks and hostesses quickly embraced Purity’s holiday star because of its festive look, refreshing flavor, ease of preparation, and seemingly lighter end to the traditional holiday dinner.
According to Mark Ezell, 7th generation Nashvillian, Purity Dairies’ general manager and grandson of company founder Miles Ezell, Sr., the seasonal Peppermint Stick Ice Cream is available only in November and December when more than 30,000 cartons (about 11,250 gallons) will be sold. After thirty years of sales, Mr. Ezell reckons the company will be coming up on their millionth carton any day now. The original flavor contained crushed red and white peppermint candy, but since the early 2000s, the premium grade ice cream includes both red and green holiday mints.
In accordance with the longstanding Ezell family and greater Middle Tennessee holiday tradition, serve the peppermint ice cream with warm chocolate sauce (a lot of chocolate sauce, says Mr. Ezell).
Here’s our favorite Midnight Chocolate Sauce that combines semisweet and unsweetened chocolate and boasts a very rich, deep finish that is spectacular with the cool mint ice cream. Or, use a total of ten ounces of whatever style of chocolate you like. Anyone can stir up this easy recipe and have it ready to go when you need it.
NOTE: To make life even easier, pre-scoop the ice cream and place the balls on a sheet pan or in a bowl that fits in your freezer. This eliminates any scooping stress at dessert time. Go one step further and roll the balls in crushed Oreo or chocolate cookie crumbs. Serve in your best holiday china topped with the chocolate sauce and a sprinkling of crushed King Leo peppermint. Now, that’s Nashville.
- 1 cup half and half cream
- 8 ounces semi sweet chocolate
- 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
- 2 tablespoons corn syrup (optional, it makes the sauce glossy)
Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate. Keep stirring until smooth.
Stir in the optional corn syrup (just squirt in a couple of blobs). Serve warm over peppermint ice cream. Store covered in the refrigerator.
To warm the cold sauce, microwave about 30 seconds and stir, add additional time as needed. Or reheat in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently.