Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Too-Hot-to-Bake Dessert Guide

Rocky Road Pudding Pops

Turn on the oven? In this heat? Out of the question! But do without dessert? Never! Here’s how to enjoy homemade sweet treats while keeping the kitchen comfortably cool.

Nice Ice

Just in time for the dog days of summer, one of our favorite cookbook authors, Krystina Castella, has published a cool new recipe book: Pops! Icy Treats for Everyone. We featured the very inventive Krystina—by day, she’s a professor of industrial design at Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design—in our January Sweet Talk on cupcakes; her new book puts a whole new spin on frozen confections-on-a-stick. Although her more than 100 recipes include many kid pleasers like Banana Split Pops, this book will appeal to grown-ups, too. “I wanted to upgrade how people think of ice pops,” says Krystina. “You can make them in different-shaped molds—or even make your own molds out of silicone. You can combine flavors and colors in beautiful and original ways. You can even make very grown-up cocktail pops, or coffee or tea pops.”

Pomegranate Apple Pops

C&H Pure Cane Sugar is an important ingredient, Krystina says: “It creates that smooth popsicle feeling, and prevents the pop from just melting and dripping.” She uses granulated sugar to balance the flavor of Pomegranate Apple Pops, and she freezes the blend in the long cylindrical molds used for chilling water bottles. If you have a bag of cranberries in your freezer from last Thanksgiving, turn them into Cranberry & Raspberry Pops, which require just seven minutes of stovetop cooking. C&H Pure Cane Golden Brown Sugar balances the berries’ natural tartness.

For a creamy, drip-proof alternative to juice pops, try Rocky Road Pudding Pops (or one of the variations Krystina offers). The homemade pudding recipe is easy and delicious, and kids will love the marshmallows and walnuts. Freeze them in star-shaped molds with long sticks to make “magic wands” for a birthday party.

Pies, Puddings, and Parfaits

When the occasion calls for a more formal presentation than ice pops, look for recipes that involve no cooking at all or only stovetop cooking (and plenty of chilling). Cream pies fit the bill perfectly. This classic Banana Cream Pie requires only a few minutes of cooking in a double-boiler; use a pre-baked pie shell to avoid turning on the oven. To make Fruited Cream Cheese Pie, just mix the filling—cream cheese, canned fruit, cherry pie filling, and C&H Pure Cane Powdered Sugar—in a bowl and pour it into a piecrust.

Creamy and tangy Mandarin Orange Pie, made with unflavored gelatin and whipping cream, uses a no-bake graham-cracker crust—how easy is that? No need to bake the crust for this fabulous Chocolate Ice Cream Pie, either: it’s made with ground almonds, butter, semisweet chocolate, and C&H Sugar Pure Cane Granulated Sugar. Just mix and pat into the pan! Serve topped with this stovetop Creamy Chocolate Sauce.

While many custard desserts require baking, some are stovetop-friendly, like this Coconut Pudding, made with gelatin. And chocolate Pint of Pudding can be made in the microwave oven—a smart way to keep the kitchen temperature down! For variety, pour a pudding mixture into a baked pie shell and chill till set.

Apricot Parfait

Parfaits, traditionally made with alternating layers of something fruity and something creamy and served in tall dessert glasses, are an easy way to impress your guests at the end of a summer sit-down dinner. Rice Pudding Parfait, cooked in a saucepan, is especially tasty when layered with tropical fruits such as kiwi, mango, and papaya, but berries or bananas will also work. No-cook Apricot Parfait takes advantage of fresh apricots now in season and looks beautiful spooned into goblets. Lemon Parfait with Blueberry Sauce, cooked in a double-boiler, is rich and creamy and beautifully paired with fresh blueberry sauce.

Frozen and Fruity

Watermelon Strawberry Sorbet

Have an ice-cream maker? Put it to work making frozen delights all summer long. Peach Pistachio Ice Cream combines ripe peaches with toasted pistachios for a divinely delicious flavor and texture treat. Watermelon-Strawberry Sorbet is cool and tangy, the fruit flavors nicely balanced with a hint of lemon and lime. And speaking of citrus, nothing’s more refreshing than Lemon Granita—or easier to make. No ice-cream maker required: just mix sugar, lemon rind, lemon juice and water in a bowl, freeze, then blend in a food processor or blender. Mound into bowls or glasses and garnish with sprigs of mint.

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