Frosty, fruity, fuss-free: our three guidelines for summer desserts. This is the time of year when we prefer the refrigerator to the oven and fresh seasonal fruit to almost any other ingredient. And if the recipe reminds us of tropical vacations, so much the better!
With the help of some savvy professionals, we've gathered our favorite summertime refreshers. Most require only a few minutes of stovetop cooking (which means your kitchen stays cool!). And they're so delicious, you may find yourself making them at other times of the year, too!
Ice Cream Treats
Sure, you could just scoop it out of the carton. But ice cream is also an excellent starting point for creative, company-worthy desserts. In A Passion for Ice Cream: 95 Recipes for Fabulous Desserts (Chronicle Books), Emily Luchetti shares some inventive ideas for desserts that go beyond the ordinary. (We profiled Emily, who's now the executive pastry chef at San Francisco's Waterbar Restaurant, in our Summer 2003 newsletter.) Very Berry Sodas, for example, start with fresh strawberry ice cream (easy to make in a home ice-cream maker). For the soda, pureé fresh raspberries and add C&H® Pure Cane Granulated Sugar, lemon juice, a bit of salt, and seltzer water. More fresh berries in each glass create a beautiful presentation.
An even easier recipe—long a favorite of C&H customers—is this Chocolate Ice Cream Pie, made with a ground-almond crust and store-bought ice cream. Topped with chocolate sauce, it's a sure kid-pleaser. Aiming to gratify adult palates? Try our Frozen Mocha Latte Parfait, which combines easy homemade espresso granita, store-bought coffee ice cream, and sweetened whipped cream. (Use C&H® Pure Cane Superfine or Baker's Sugar for the smoothest, silkiest whipped cream.)
Tastes of the Tropics
Transport yourself to Hawaii or the Caribbean with delicious, no-bake recipes that use ripe tropical fruit. Unflavored gelatin—popular from the 1930s through the 1960s and now enjoying a comeback—replaces or supplements eggs to provide body and satisfying mouthfeel. For Aloha Refrigerator Dessert, cut preparation time by starting with a store-bought angel food, sponge, or chiffon cake and adding fresh or canned crushed pineapple, fresh lemon juice, and a bit of unflavored gelatin. Hawaiian Coconut Pudding, a C&H customer favorite, cooks quickly, chills in four hours, and looks spectacular when made in a decorative six-cup mold. (Tip: Search thrift stores and flea markets for attractive old-fashioned molds.) It also makes an excellent pie filling: just pour into a prepared crust (your own or store-bought) and chill.
The sweet and tangy flavors of coconut, pineapple, and lemon combine to make Pineapple Chiffon Dessert a summer sensation. The coconut is toasted and used as a crust; chill evaporated milk, whip until stiff, and fold into a mixture of lemon gelatin and fruit. To serve, simply cut into squares and accompany with tall glasses of Hula Freeze, whipped up in your blender from frozen bananas and kiwifruits.
Mangos and Melons
Naturally cool melons are a natural choice to quench the summer heat. And tropical mangos are now widely available in supermarkets, so there's no excuse for denying yourself this juicy treat.
We love the look and refreshing flavors of Molded Melon Mousse, a gelatin-based dessert that requires only a few minutes of stovetop cooking and a couple of hours of chilling. It looks splendid when unmolded from a five-cup ring mold. For Mango Bavarian Cream, purée fresh ripe mango and reserve mango slices to garnish this rich molded dessert. (It can also be turned into a delicious pie filling.)
We're grateful to our friends at the National Mango Board for sharing their knowledge about this versatile fruit—available year round throughout the United States—and especially for sharing some very special recipes. Mangolicious Flip-Flop Cake is a tropical update of the traditional upside-down cake: mango purée goes into the cinnamon-flavored batter, and mango slices garnish the cake's top (which starts out on the bottom). And if you're looking for a recipe that will surprise and delight your guests, how about Sweet Mango Dessert Tamales? That's right, tamales! The corn husks are filled with a mixture of chopped mangos, mango nectar, C&H® Pure Cane Golden Brown Sugar, and masa harina (a coarse cornmeal); they're steamed for an hour and served with warm mango topping. For more mango recipes, check out the Mango Board's website!
If you thought watermelon was just for slicing and eating, prepare to be inspired by the National Watermelon Promotion Board's healthful, creative recipes. Watermelon Granita in Lime Cups is a real crowd-dazzler: charming mini-melons made from halved, scooped-out limes heaped with juicy watermelon granita. For a more dramatic presentation, you can't miss with Watermelon Pyramids, made with alternating layers of pound cake, melon, and kiwifruit and drizzled with warm caramel sauce. To duplicate the photo, garnish the tower with a slice of sweet star fruit (carambola) —worth seeking out at a specialty produce store!