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A&E >  Food

Frozen delights

Fast, fun and fruity, cool desserts are sure to please

Kirsten Harrington I Correspondent

Summer is finally here, and there’s nothing like a refreshing fruit sorbet or creamy ice cream concoction to put a smile on everyone’s face.

Many tempting frozen treats can be made in just a few minutes without any special equipment. With some tips from local experts and plenty of cool recipes, dessert is on its way.

Smooth sorbet

You can make smooth, fruity sorbets even without an ice cream maker, says Savory Restaurant pastry chef Emily Chapman.

“You won’t get it as creamy,” she says, but the results are still delicious.

Follow any sorbet recipe using a blender or food processor, and instead of putting the mixture into an ice cream maker as most recipes suggest, just put the bowl in the freezer. When the mixture begins to set, after about 15 minutes, whisk it. Return the bowl to the freezer and repeat the process.

Serve the sorbet as soon as it reaches the desired consistency – don’t let it freeze solid.

Simple treats

Pick your favorite flavor of ice cream and spread it over a cookie crust for an easy ice cream pie. Chapman likes to pair shortbread cookies with strawberry ice cream, or sugar cookies with maple pecan.

Use a little melted butter with the crushed cookies to form a crust, and then freeze it before filling the crust with partially softened ice cream.

“Frozen bananas dipped in chocolate are really good too,” says Chapman.

Freeze half of a banana on a stick, dip it in chocolate ganache (recipe included) and while the chocolate is still soft, roll the banana in crushed nuts, Oreo cookies or mini-marshmallows and freeze until firm.

Another of Chapman’s simple favorites is to take an eight-ounce container of yogurt (any flavor), and mix it with ¼ cup of whipped topping. Place a vanilla wafer in the bottom of paper muffin liner, top with a dollop or two of the yogurt mixture and freeze. Top with fresh berries and serve.

“You can make this in less than five minutes,” she says.

Icy granitas

If you’re looking for a light dessert for a hot summer day, a granita is the perfect answer.

This classic Italian ice (also spelled granite) is made by heating a liquid (water, fruit juice or coconut milk, for example), mixing in sugar and other flavors and freezing the mixture. Scraping the ice in the pan as it forms creates an icy dessert similar to sorbet but with more texture.

“They’re a good low-fat dessert,” says Adam Hegsted, executive chef at the Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort.

He’s also the creator of a roving supper club called the Wandering Table. Granitas are Hegsted’s “go-to” dessert because they are simple to make and can incorporate just about any flavor, from champagne to herbs and fresh fruit.

An easy ratio for a basic granita recipe is two parts liquid to one part sugar. Hegsted adds a pinch of salt to bring out the flavor and help the granita freeze. For a lighter-texture granita with fewer calories, reduce the sugar.

If you accidently leave the granita in the freezer too long and it turns solid, add a dash of juice or sparkling wine.

“That will soften it up and give it a refreshing zip,” says Hegsted.

Granitas must be served immediately or they will melt, he warns. Hegsted likes to serve granitas in chilled champagne flutes, coffee cups or hollowed-out fruits to match the flavor of the dessert.

Homemade ice pops

Spokane mom Amy Hacker loves experimenting with ice pop flavors.

“I like knowing what’s in them,” says Hacker, who has a son with severe nut allergies.

Disappointed with the store-bought frozen pops that were safe for her son, Hacker started making her own with sugar-free pudding mixes, pureed fruit and other fresh ingredients. She finds adding a little Splenda brings out the desired sweetness.

Hacker favors Tovolo molds because the ice pops are easy to remove, come in fun, cool designs and are made of BPA-free plastic. (Tovolo molds are available at the Kitchen Engine, Target and online retailers.)

Whichever kind of mold you use, make sure to choose individual molds, not the six-in-one kind, advises Hacker.

Eric Frickle of the Kitchen Engine cooking store likes to add texture to frozen treats by mixing chocolate chips into creamy ice pops or fruit chunks into juice-based pops.

“If you want to make a fun grown-up popsicle, use your favorite energy drink,” Frickle suggests. He’s a fan of the Zoku ice pop maker that freezes treats in just seven to 10 minutes.

If you don’t have a mold, you can always use paper cups. Freeze the pops for 30 to 60 minutes and then add a wooden craft stick and freeze until solid.

Here are some fun frozen treat recipes to get you started:

Eskimo Bites

Courtesy of Emily Chapman, Savory Restaurant. This dessert features two different flavors of bite-sized ice cream treats. One is vanilla with a brownie crust and the other espresso-flavored with crushed Oreos. They’re covered in chocolate and served with a caramel dipping sauce – divine.

For the brownie crust:

7 ounces dark chocolate

10 ounces butter

3 eggs

9 ounces sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon vanilla

4 ounces all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon baking powder

For the vanilla filling:

5 cups vanilla bean ice cream

For the espresso bites:

4 cups crushed Oreo cookies

1/4 cup melted butter

5 cups espresso ice cream

For the chocolate ganache:

7 ounces dark chocolate

9 ounces heavy cream

For the caramel dipping sauce:

8 ounces sugar

2 ounces water

¾ teaspoon lemon juice

6 ounces heavy cream

Melt the chocolate and butter over a double boiler. Remove from the heat when melted and add the eggs. Add the sugar, salt, vanilla and flour, and mix until incorporated. Pour the batter in the bottom of a well-greased 8-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and chill until firm.

Let the vanilla bean ice cream soften at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes. Once the brownie crust is firm, spread the ice cream evenly over the crust. Freeze again for about 2 hours or until firm enough to cut.

To make the espresso bites: Combine 4 cups crushed Oreos and ¼ cup of melted butter and press into the bottom of an 8-inch pan. Freeze and spread with 5 cups of espresso ice cream. Freeze again for about 2 hours or until firm enough to cut.

To make the chocolate ganache: Melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Heat cream and slowly add to the chocolate mixture.

For the caramel dipping sauce: Combine the sugar, lemon juice and water. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and chill for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, bring the cream to a boil in a separate pan. Add the cream to the caramel slowly. Let it cool and serve as a dipping sauce for the Eskimo bites.

Remove ice cream from the freezer and cut each pan into 20 even bite-sized squares, insert short skewers or wooden sticks and dip in the chocolate ganache. Chill until ready to serve.

Yield: 40 1-inch bites

Piña Colada Pops

Courtesy of Amy Hacker, Spokane

1 (15-ounce) can crushed pineapple with juice

1 (15-ounce) can cream of coconut

1/2 cup Splenda granulated sweetener

1/2 cup plain 2 percent Greek yogurt

Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into molds and freeze at least 4 hours.

Yield: 10-12 depending on size of mold.

Chocolate Pudding Pops

Courtesy of Amy Hacker

1 large box sugar-free instant chocolate pudding mix

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup nonfat milk

2 frozen bananas (mostly thawed)

1/2 cup Splenda granulated sweetener

Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into molds and freeze at least 4 hours.

Yield: 10-12 depending on size of mold.

Raspberry Cabernet Sorbet

From The Food Matters Cookbook by Mark Bittman, who writes “All you need is a food processor to make this super-easy frozen dessert. If you can find good fresh raspberries and freeze them yourself, so much the better.”

1 pound frozen raspberries

1⁄2 cup silken tofu, yogurt, or crème fraîche

3 to 4 tablespoons sugar

2 to 4 tablespoons cabernet or other full-bodied, flavorful red wine

Put the raspberries, tofu, sugar, and 2 tablespoons wine in a food processor. Process until just puréed and creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed and adding more wine 1 tablespoon at a time if the fruit does not break down completely. Be careful not to over-process or the sorbet will liquefy.

Serve immediately or freeze for up to a day or two; if serving later, allow 10 to 15 minutes for the sorbet to soften at room temperature.

Yield: 4 servings

Café con Leche Granita

Courtesy of Chef Adam Hegsted, who likes to serve this granita in chilled espresso cups.

3 cups brewed strong coffee (Italian dark roast)

½ cup sugar

1 cup evaporated milk

¼ teaspoon salt

Stir the sugar into the coffee to dissolve. Chill until cold. Add evaporated milk and salt. Pour mixture into a shallow metal pan and freeze, stirring with a fork every 1/2 hour, until mixture is coarse ice crystals, but not frozen hard, approximately 4 hours.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Green Tea and Lime Granita

Courtesy of Chef Adam Hegsted.

2 cups brewed green tea

¾ cup sugar

6 limes juiced (save skins to hollow out and serve granita in)

1 lime zested and juiced

¼ teaspoon salt

 Stir the sugar into the tea. Chill until cold. Add lime juice and zest. Place in shallow pan and follow directions above. Remove pith from hollowed-out limes and freeze solid for decorative serving vessel for the granita. To stand upright on plate, use a small dish or pile of wet coarse salt.

Yield: 6 servings

Cantaloupe Granita

Courtesy of Adam Hegsted. This can be served in half of the cantaloupe peel if you’re careful scooping out the fruit.

1 whole cantaloupe, peeled and seeded

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

Blend cantaloupe and sugar in a food processor until smooth. Add lemon juice and salt. Chill in refrigerator until cold through. Strain with a fine mesh strainer and place mixture into a shallow metal pan. Follow directions above. Serve in frozen cantaloupe peel or other decorative dish.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Kirsten Harrington is a Spokane freelance writer and can be reached at kharrington67@ earthlink.net.
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