American’s palate for different foods and dining trends is constantly changing. So it comes as no surprise that in the ever-changing food service industry, dessert is not “just for dessert” anymore. Technomic, Inc. of Chicago recently conducted a consumer trend report on desserts. The results concluded that forty percent of consumers surveyed eat dessert at least twice a week. Results also suggested that dessert is not always enjoyed just as an encore to an evening dinner, with more and more diners taking up on the old adage “Life is short – Eat dessert first!”
Sweet treats have made their way into a variety of serving forms – samplers, shots, and small bites. With diners’ ever increasing love for variety, the constantly growing array of choices can easily overwhelm even the most adventurous patron. Below are a few summertime dessert ideas that are ideal for seasonal produce that can be found at nearly any farmers’ market or grocer this summer:
Watermelon Granita with Cardamom Syrup
3/4 cup water
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 pounds seedless watermelon, rind removed, flesh cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces (6 cups)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons cardamom pods, crushed
In a saucepan, combine 1/2 cup of the water with 3/4 cup of the sugar and stir over moderate heat until dissolved, 2 minutes. In a blender, working in batches, puree the watermelon with the sugar syrup and lemon juice until smooth. Pour the mixture into a 9-by-13-inch baking pan and freeze for 30 minutes.
Using a fork, stir the granita; continue stirring every 30 minutes, until frozen and fluffy, about 3 hours.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan, combine the remaining 1/4 cup of water and 1/2 cup of sugar with the cardamom pods and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat until the sugar is dissolved, 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Strain the syrup and refrigerate.
Fluff the granita with a fork. Scoop into bowls, drizzle with the cardamom syrup and serve immediately.
Confit of Peaches with Mint
1/4 cup whole blanched almonds
4 medium peaches
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 mint sprigs, plus 2 tablespoons shredded mint
1/4 cup crème fraiche
Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the almonds in a pie plate. Toast for about 5 minutes, or until the almonds are lightly golden. Let cool. Meanwhile, using a sturdy vegetable peeler, peel the peaches; transfer the skins to a small saucepan. Add the water, sugar and mint sprigs and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderately low and simmer for 10 minutes.
Cut the peaches into small wedges and transfer them to a heatproof bowl. Strain the syrup over the peach wedges and let stand for 5 minutes. Divide the peaches among 4 bowls and spoon the syrup on top. Garnish each serving with the crème fraiche, sprinkle with the toasted almonds and shredded mint and serve.
2 pints blueberries (about 5 cups)
1 cup plus 2 teaspoons flour
5 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon kirsch
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
Vanilla ice cream, for serving
Preheat the oven to 375°. Toss the blueberries with 2 teaspoons of the flour, 4 tablespoons of the sugar, the kirsch and the lemon zest. Pour the mixture into a 9-by-12-inch oval baking dish.
Mix the remaining 1 cup flour with 1 tablespoon of the sugar, the baking powder and salt in a medium size bowl. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in 1/2 cup of the milk to make a very soft dough. Drop the dough by spoonfuls on top of the berry mixture. Dampen your hands with some of the remaining milk and spread out the dough to cover most of the fruit. Brush the top of the dough with the rest of the milk. Sprinkle the surface with the remaining 2 teaspoons sugar.
Bake the cobbler for about 35 minutes, or until it is golden brown and the berries are bubbling. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
Lemon Ice Box Pie
14 whole graham crackers, broken
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Two 14-ounce cans sweetened condensed milk
1 1/4 cups fresh lemon juice, plus 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
8 large egg yolks
Preheat the oven to 325°. In a food processor, pulse the graham crackers with the sugar and salt until finely ground but not powdery. Add the butter and pulse until the crumbs are evenly moistened; transfer to a 9-inch spring form pan and press into the bottom and two-thirds up the side. Set the pan on a rimmed baking sheet.
In a medium bowl, whisk the condensed milk with the lemon juice. In another bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat the lemon zest with the egg yolks until pale. Beat in the condensed milk mixture until smooth. Pour the filling into the crust.
Bake the pie for 25 minutes, until the center jiggles slightly and the edges are set. Transfer the pan to a rack; let cool for 1 hour. Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap and freeze the pie for at least 6 hours. Wrap a warm, damp kitchen towel around the side of the spring form pan to release the pie; remove the ring. Using a hot knife, slice the pie, transfer to plates and serve.