Warming Up The Holidays With Ice Cream

Ice cream is not just for summer anymore. More often, Americans are enjoying their frozen treats year-round, even when it feels like an icebox outside.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. produces more than 1.6 billion gallons of ice cream and related frozen desserts per year, averaging out to about 21.5 quarts per person.

Nearly 60 percent of ice cream purchases are made at "scoop shops," restaurants and other specialty outlets. One such company that's brought an added dimension to ice cream is Cold Stone Creamery. The direct result of two ice cream lovers' crusade for the perfect ice cream dessert, the business was founded by Donald and Susan Sutherland in 1988-after years of tirelessly searching for ice cream that met their standards of quality, flavor, consistency and variety.

Today, there are more than 1,360 Cold Stone Creamery locations, and the company continues to develop new flavors for all occasions. One of the newest additions, a delectable choice for the holiday season, is Dark Chocolate Peppermint, which will leave people with visions of candy canes dancing in their heads. This premium flavor can be enjoyed by itself or as part of a scrumptious confection.

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Holiday Ice Cream Sandwich

Serves 8

1. Purchase your favorite Cold Stone Creamery holiday ice cream flavor to go, such as Dark Chocolate Peppermint.

2. Purchase or bake 16 large holiday-themed sugar cookies.

3. Place baked cookies face down on a flat surface.

4. Place a large ice cream scoop on top of one cookie and cover with second cookie. Press together firmly.

5. Wrap cookies in plastic wrap and place in freezer for 2 hours.

6. Remove from freezer and enjoy!

Hot Chocolate Topped with Dark Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream

Serves 4-6

1. Purchase a quart of Cold Stone Creamery Dark Chocolate Peppermint ice cream.

2. Prepare favorite hot chocolate recipe as desired.

3. Scoop one serving of ice cream over hot chocolate and serve with a spoon.

For locations or additional recipe ideas, visit the Web site at www.coldstonecreamery.com.

Treats made with Dark Chocolate Peppermint ice cream can add a wonderfully sweet flavor to any holiday celebration.

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About The Author, Stacey Moore