It’s easy to see how the Caramel Corn Sundae is one of the most popular desserts at Red’s Table, a rustic, modern spot in Reston, Va. A housemade funnel cake sits in a pool of caramel sauce, topped with two scoops of buttered popcorn ice cream, a flourish of whipped cream and a garnish of salted caramel corn.
“The buttered popcorn ice cream is my favorite part of this dish,” says Adam Stein, Executive Chef. “I blend fresh popcorn, including slightly burnt or even unpopped kernels, into the milk and steep it for several hours to pull the nutty and distinctly popcorn flavor out. After steeping, I add an ungodly amount of salt and whole butter to finish out the flavor before straining it and finishing with egg yolks. The starch in the popcorn helps to create this fantastic creamy texture that I’ve yet to get from any other ice cream recipe.”
Apart from the flavors inherent in the build, this dish delivers a dose of whimsy and sweet remembrance. “As a teenager, my family traveled the East Coast working as festival vendors, and this dessert is a nod to the sugar bombs and fried snacks my sister and I were constantly surrounded by,” says Stein. “It’s very nostalgic in a childhood-magic way. Customers have come in specifically for the sundae. I even had a lady stop me at Christmas Eve church service to tell me how much she loved it.”