Looking for a way to impress the little princes and princesses at your family's next gathering? Give them their just desserts -- a majestic ice cream castle decorated with cinnamon-sugar beach sand, candy shells and beach pebbles, and gummy octopuses.
Allow the ice cream to soften for about 15 minutes at room temperature, then spoon it into your castle mold. Be sure to fully pack any crenellations on the bottom of the mold. Tightly cover the top of the mold with plastic wrap and keep it in the freezer overnight, or until solid.
In a mixing bowl, toss together the sugar and cinnamon to make beach sand. If the color looks too light, add a little more cinnamon or a teaspoon of instant hot chocolate mix.
Cover a large tray with aluminum foil. Fold the edges of the foil into a lip for catching excess cinnamon sugar.
At least 3 hours before serving (or up to several days ahead of time), unmold the castle. Fill a 2- to 3-quart pot with hot tap water. Then remove the mold from the freezer. Holding it open-end up, carefully and quickly (for no more than 2 seconds) dip it into the hot water. The object is to warm the mold without melting more than the surface of the ice cream. Immediately top the mold with the foil-covered serving platter, invert onto a flat working surface and lift off the mold.
Working quickly, sprinkle a generous base coating of cinnamon sugar on the sides and top of the castle. Gather and reserve any spilled cinnamon sugar to use later. Immediately return the castle, uncovered, to the freezer until it is frozen solid (at least 3 hours). Then wrap the castle with aluminum foil until serving time.
Shortly before serving, spread the remaining cinnamon sugar on a flat, foil-covered surface. Remove the ice-cream castle from the freezer, unwrap and roll the sides in the cinnamon sugar. Set the castle on a serving plate and sprinkle the top with more cinnamon sugar. Spread the rest of the cinnamon sugar on the plate to resemble a beach. Add the candy shells and pebbles and the gummy octopuses. Finally, top the castle with the toy flag. Makes 8 1/2-cup servings.
If you don't have time to custom build an ice cream sand castle like the one shown above, here's an easy shortcut: Uncover and invert a pint of ice cream on a foil-covered tray. Peel away the cardboard container and sprinkle on plenty of cinnamon sugar. Decorate with a graham cracker drawbridge. Serves 4.