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Ice-Cream Sundae with Nuts and Fennel

Did you think that fennel could be used in a dessert? Sounds odd, perhaps, but give it a try! Expand your taste horizons with this wonderful mixture of sweet, savory, and crunchy. You’ve likely never had an ice-cream sundae this way, and you’ll want it over and over again after your first taste!

Ice cream sundae with nuts

Ice-Cream Sundae with Nuts and Fennel

  • Author: Norann Oleson
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8 1x


  • 1 cup raw shelled walnuts
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 fennel bulb, fronds (the leafy top) removed and reserved, and bulb thinly sliced
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 whole vanilla bean, split lengthwise to expose the seeds/caviar
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 pints vanilla gelato or ice cream


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and toast walnuts on a baking sheet for 5 to 8 minutes until browned.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat sugar in 1 cup water, stirring until sugar dissolves. When cooled, pour over walnuts and seal in a jar to sit for up to one day.
  3. Pour walnuts into a fine-mesh sieve over a clean medium saucepan, letting the syrup drain into the pan. Transfer walnuts to a medium-sized bowl, and reserve sieve.
  4. Add sliced fennel and lemon zest to syrup and scrape the vanilla-bean seeds/caviar into the syrup. Add vanilla bean pod to syrup mixture, too.
  5. Simmer over low heat, cooking and stirring occasionally until fennel is tender—about 25 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat, discard vanilla-bean pod, and let fennel cool in the syrup mixture.
  7. Coat walnuts in powdered sugar and bake on baking sheet for 5 minutes at 400 degrees F, until walnuts become browner and crunchier.
  8. Scoop gelato or ice cream in bowls, and top with walnuts, candied fennel, and chopped fennel fronds.
  9. Serve immediately.

Have you tried this recipe? You might want to try it out on yourself before serving to guests, since it’s new and unique. How did this recipe turn out for you? Please comment below.


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