Food & Drink

No limits with ice cream sundaes

An ice cream sundae from Old Mill Tasty Shop.
An ice cream sundae from Old Mill Tasty Shop. The Wichita Eagle

When it comes to ice cream toppings, it takes only a few steps to go from the traditional to the exotic in Wichita.

At Old Mill Tasty Shop, some of the sundae topping combinations have been around since the downtown restaurant and its old-fashioned soda fountain opened in 1932.

Just around the corner at Espresso To Go Go, baristas dish up a combination that nobody would have thought of back during the Great Depression, unless maybe they happened to be living in Italy. That’s where the idea of topping ice cream with a hot shot of espresso, a dish known as affogato, originated.

“That component of it melting the ice cream is part of what makes it delicious,” said Warren Tandoc, who owns Espresso To Go Go with his wife, Ann. “You start out eating it but you end up by drinking it.”

Most of the components for making your own ice cream treats, traditional or otherwise, can be found nearly as easily as ice cream itself. For instance, if you don’t have an espresso maker, Reverie Roasters sells bottled chilled espresso that can be reheated or served as is over ice cream, for another take on affogato.

Supermarkets carry chocolate, caramel, butterscotch and other sauces, fruit, nuts, whipped cream (or heavy cream for making your own), sprinkles and maraschino cherries for that all-important topping of the topping.

For about a gazillion more choices, go to Nifty Nut House, where the inventory of nuts, chocolate and candy impressed no less than superstar TV chef Alton Brown on his visit.

And that’s not the end of possible ingredients. The Donut Whole, known for its creative cake doughnuts, has been using those tasty rings as the base for ice cream sundaes for a couple of years now (as well as ice cream sandwiches and even doughnut milkshakes). Co-owner Michael Carmody said the move was inspired after The Donut Whole started selling ice cream made by Paleteria La Reyna, which produces papaya, coconut, mango and other exotic flavors.

Which brings up a whole other question: which flavor of ice cream to use in your sundae? Vanilla is the safe fall-back proposition, but topping mango ice cream with slices of fresh ripe mango, coconut ice cream with toasted coconut flakes or pistachio ice cream – another Paleteria La Reyna specialty – with chopped pistachios is a kind of double-dipping idea that appeals.

With your ingredients on hand, the sky and your imagination are the only limits.

Mary Wright, who reopened Old Mill Tasty Shop in 1982, said she kept all the ice cream concoctions served up by the original owners, Otto and Ema Woermke, including the Old Mill Sundae, which she described as “basically a banana split without the bananas.”

Wright added a few of her own as well, usually inspired by something somebody remembered from their past. Wright’s sister, for instance, had worked at the old Colonial Ice Cream Parlor in the 1960s and suggested its Turtle Sundae would be a hit. How could anything with ice cream, hot fudge, butterscotch and pecans not be?

The Aspen Snowball, with hot fudge and coconut, came from another long-gone parlor, Farrell’s.

The Very Cherry Sundae, with slices of banana, hot fudge, whipped cream and a pile of maraschino cherries, is made up of “my favorite things,” Wright said.

Ice cream can also help you use up those bits of cookies and brownies that somehow escaped eating the first time around. Crumble them in an attractive glass parfait between alternating layers of ice cream and whipped cream for a trifle that’s no trifling matter.

You can always take an ice cream dish up a notch by making toppings from scratch, whether it’s whipped cream or a sauce.

Recently, Wright decided to start making her own chocolate syrup after receiving a copy of Woermke’s original in the mail.

“He sent a photo of him standing out front (of Old Mill) during the war,” Wright said. “He was going off to war and Otto gave it to him. He didn’t give up many recipes.”

If you go

▪ Old Mill Tasty Shop, 604 E. Douglas

▪ Espresso To Go Go, 102 N. St. Francis

▪ Reverie Roasters, 2611 E. Douglas

▪ The Donut Whole, 1720 E. Douglas

▪ Palateria La Reyna, 2925 N. Arkansas

▪ Nifty Nut House, 537 N. St Francis


Makes about 1 cup

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup evaporated milk

1/4 cup butter

Combine ingredients in saucepan. Heat until thick, about 3 minutes. Serve warm.

From “Ice Cream! The Whole Scoop” by Gail Damerow


Makes about 1 cup

1/3 cup evaporated milk

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Combine evaporated milk, unsweetened chocolate and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring until chocolate melts. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Serve warm. For a variation, omit the vanilla, instead stirring in 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon plus 2 tablespoons coffee liqueur.

From “Ice Cream! The Whole Scoop” by Gail Damerow


Makes 4 servings

1/4 cup butter

4 ripe bananas

4 tablespoons brown sugar

Two dashes cinnamon

1/2 cup rum

In a skillet, melt butter. Peel bananas, cut in half lengthwise and add to butter. Sprinkle bananas with half of the brown sugar and cinnamon. Heat until lightly browned. Turn banana pieces and sprinkle with remaining brown sugar and cinnamon. Arrange two halves of banana over each serving of ice cream. Pour 2 tablespoons rum over each serving and carefully ignite. Serve immediately.

NOTE: For each two-scoop sundae, you need about 2 tablespoons sauce or 1/4 cup sliced fruit, 1 tablespoon whipped cream, chopped nuts, and a maraschino cherry or strawberry on top.

From “Ice Cream! The Whole Scoop” by Gail Damerow