January 26, 2016 04:29 PM

Courtesy Alex Guarnaschelli

Alex Guarnaschelli is an Iron Chef, Food Network celebrity chef, author of Old-School Comfort Food and the executive chef at New York City’s Butter restaurants. Read her PEOPLE.com blog every Tuesday to get her professional cooking tips, family-favorite recipes and personal stories of working in front of the camera and behind the kitchen doors. Follow her on Twitter at @guarnaschelli.

Sundaes are the kind of dessert everyone loves to eat. It’s American, familiar and most of all, great for sharing.

We make a number of the elements from scratch at the restaurant but a lot can be store bought to make the recipe easier to enjoy at home.

I really love sundaes and while I am providing a recipe for the way I like to build one, there really aren’t any rules to follow other than making it the way you love it.

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I love homemade sauces because you can better control and develop the flavors. I think this is especially true for the chocolate sauce. A good chocolate sauce with the right balance of bitter and sweet can be as great as a fantastic cup of morning coffee.

I will also admit that on days when I am doing more cooking, I make a small batch of the chocolate sauce and the caramel sauce and keep them in the fridge for a rainy day. I always like to feel ready to whip up a dessert because it’s something I might very well do if friends come over, or even when I am home alone and want to treat myself to something simple that is homemade!

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You can also make this into a giant sundae and serve it family style in the center of the table for everyone to share.

Alex Guarnaschelli’s Homemade Sundae

Serves 2-4

Chocolate sauce:

½ cup heavy cream

1 tbsp. unsalted butter

½ cup semi sweet chocolate, chopped

1 tbsp. dark rum

Caramel sauce:

½ cup sugar

¼ cup water

½ stick unsalted butter

¼ cup heavy cream

2 tsp. vanilla

⅛ tsp. kosher salt


½ cup water

¼ cup sugar

⅛ tsp. cream of tartar

½ cup walnut halves

For the sundae:

1 pt. vanilla ice cream

¾ cup fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced

½ cup whipped cream

12 marshmallow squares (or mini marshmallows)

1. Make the chocolate sauce: In a medium pot, heat the heavy cream. When it simmers, gently remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, chocolate and rum. Stir until smooth. Set aside.

2. Make the caramel sauce: in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, pour the sugar in a thin, even layer. Top with the water. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook over low heat until light golden brown, 15-20 minutes.  Remove from the heat and add the butter, cream, vanilla and salt. Simmer over low heat until all of the ingredients come together, 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

3. Make the pralines: Coat a baking sheet with a layer of nonstick spray. Set aside. In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the water, sugar and cream of tartar. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer. Using a candy thermometer, bring the mixture to 356°. Stir in the walnuts. Stir to coat the nuts with the caramel and then immediately turn out the caramel and nuts onto the baking sheet coated with nonstick spray. Allow it to cool completely. Leave them whole or crush into bits (in the food processor or by chopping with a knife).

4. Assemble the sundae: Using an ice cream scoop or large spoon, form three generous scoops of vanilla ice cream and roll them in the chopped pralines. Arrange them together in a sundae dish. Serve the caramel sauce, strawberries, whipped cream, marshmallows and chocolate sauce. Bring to the table and pour more of the warm chocolate sauce over the ice cream. Dig in!

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