Amp up your favorite dining hall dessert

Incoming first-year advice: use the ice cream machines while your access is unlimited


You don't need an Instagram-worthy bakery to make an ice cream sandwich. 

Madison McNamee | Cavalier Daily

It is no secret that starting college can be stressful. Even at the beginning of the school year, when classes should merely be introductions and coursework should be minimal, there is still the additional anxiety of moving in and making new friends. In times of such stress, I have one confidant that has followed me all the way to college and continues to heal all worries — ice cream. Not only does the sweetness distract from the pressures of first year, but it is also an ideal indulgence for the summer humidity and heat of old dorms. 

Fortunately, each dining hall is equipped with a chocolate and vanilla soft serve machine. Some may tire of these flavors quickly, but luckily there are other resources in the dining halls to help embrace your inner Ben and Jerry and amp up the ice cream. While the stress of college is no secret, here are five “secret menu” ice cream creations that will make you want to utilize your unlimited swipes first year.

1.    Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich

One of the latest foodie trends is ice cream sandwiches between two cookies. No need for some Instagram-worthy bakery though, because the dining hall dessert station will do just fine. Grab two cookies of your choice and release your desired amount of soft serve onto the bottom side of one, and then place the other cookie on top. For a classic, choose chocolate chip cookies and fill with vanilla ice cream. Another favorite is peanut butter cookies filled with chocolate ice cream, but feel free to grab two different cookies and mix and match flavors. 

2.    Reese’s Ice Cream

It may sound elementary, but peanut butter and chocolate is a first-year essential. Simply get a generous amount of chocolate ice cream in a cup, then stir in a copious amount of peanut butter from the sandwich station. Make sure to swirl it with a spoon and obtain a frosty-like consistency for maximum satisfaction. This dessert is so addicting, you’ll be able to master a flawless ratio of peanut butter to chocolate in no time.

3.    Brownie Sundae

The dining hall dessert station may just be partially responsible for the “freshman 15,” but the benefits of this dessert sure outweigh any additional pounds. Place a fudge brownie on a plate then cover it with the ice cream flavor of your choosing. Top it off with chocolate sauce, sprinkles or even granola from the yogurt bar. You can even make it a brownie banana split by heading over to the fruit selections. For literal “brownie points,” heat up the brownie in the microwave first so the ice cream gets a little melty once added. 

4.    Flurries

The various stations in the dining hall allow for various mix-ins for your ice cream, which means plentiful drool-worthy Flurries. Simply take Oreos, broken brownie bits, cookie pieces, nuts, even frosting from cake and grab a spoon to swirl it into your soft serve. Grab a muffin and crumble it up if you want to pretend to be “healthy,” or treat yourself and combine numerous aforementioned ingredients. The options are endless when your swipes are unlimited.

5. Soda Floats

An old time delicacy for a time of young opportunities. There’s no better way to bond with new friends than over the classic embodiment of a sugar rush. Swirl some vanilla soft serve in your cup and then head to the soda fountains to fill the rest up with the soda of your choice. Root beer floats are never a bad decision, but college is a time for branching out, so seek out new adventures with the array of sodas and juices supplied by the dining halls. Mountain Dew for the caffeine boost? Fruity Fanta floats? Guava juice and ice cream? Could be interesting. 

Like the dining halls, first year is a time for exploration. Make the most out of what you are given. Whether it be in your ice cream or in new friendships, take new opportunities when they arise and just go for it. Chances are it’ll be pretty sweet.

Maddie McNamee is a Food Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at

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