If you find yourself in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood, I strongly suggest you make a pit stop at Maple & Ash, an upscale steak and seafood restaurant that opened in the Windy City last fall. This chic spot is the kind of place you can enjoy whether you’re craving a hearty meal (their extensive menu rocks all the usual surf-n-turf suspects, plus more) or just some mood-enhancing libations (they’ve got a killer wine and cocktail menu that’s curated by an award-winning sommelier). But the main reason I’m heading back there is for their towering ice cream sundae dessert.
Given its $19 price tag, you may find the “Sundae Service” option off-putting at first—I’ll admit I did—but it won’t be long until you realize that this totally shareable dish is worth every penny (and calorie) it costs.
First, you receive a trio of homemade ice cream scoops in the classic Neapolitan flavors of strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla, followed by a two-tiered silver tray of a dozen kinds of accoutrements to jazz up your frozen treat, including fresh fruit, syrups, sprinkles, and nuts, just to name a few. As you can imagine, the presentation is quite a head-turner. “It makes people giddy with joy and brings out the child within them,” says pastry chef Aya Fukai, who started the dessert program at the Michelin-starred restaurant Sixteen. Think of it as an elevated version of the “make your own sundae” bar, she says, with the best part being that it’s brought right to your table.
If you can’t make your way to M&A but feel the need to indulge stat, you can easily create a simplified version at home with the easy how-to below.
Epic Ice Cream Sundae
1. First, take a footed dessert bowl (like these from Crate & Barrel, starting at $2; crateandbarrel.com) and pile on some gourmet scoops. (We like Jeni's varity of fun flavors, starting at $12 a pint; shop.jenis.com.)
2. Fill a few small cups or shot glasses with an array of your favorite toppings from the list below. Or, for a more edited approach, try chef Fukai’s favorite combination of dessicated coconut, fresh pineapple chunks, and caramel sauce.