Summer is pushing in on us here in Phoenix, and it is time to start prepping for toasty days and sweltering nights. Kiss our patio dinners goodbye until fall. When the temperature rises, the last thing you want to do is turn on the oven. Here are our 5 desserts to master this summer. No oven use required.
Panna Cotta - A light and refreshing choice, panna cotta is a blank slate for flavors of summer. Fresh berries. Mint. Vanilla. Work on finding a perfect texture. Firm and creamy, but not too stiff.
Semifreddo - This "half cold" Italian dessert is a mix between an light, fluffy ice cream cake and mousse. I've heard you can take ice cream or gelato with whipped cream folded in then add delicious bits you love to make a cheater version of the semifreddo. The traditional method does involve some custard making, but nothing too complicated. Freeze in a loaf pan. Turn out and slice to serve. For flavors, the innards of your pantry or fridge can shape your semifreddo. Think toasted hazelnuts and dark chocolate chunks. Strawberries, crème fraiche and honey.
Wine Soaked Stone Fruit - Stone fruit, sugar and dry white wine. Chilled and soaked for a day, this becomes one of the easiest desserts that embodies summer. Serve as is. Add a dollop of slightly sweetened whipped cream. Pour over ice cream or pound cake.
Homemade Ice Cream - Is there anything better? Creamy, cold, and your own crazy flavor creations. It does require a bit of prep and thinking ahead, but with your freezer stocked up, you can make it through the long hot summer. Check out our previous post on DIY Ice Cream.
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Ice Cream Torte - This is the sexy term for an ice cream cake. With so many different ways to make this dessert your own, you can look like a rock star at your next dinner party. Interchange crushed oreos, gingerbread, or almond butter cookies for a crust, filled with your favorite homemade ice cream. For an extra touch, fold in nuts, candy, or fresh fruit. Drizzle the top with caramel, hot fudge or preserves.
Stay cool and stay sweet.
Rachel Miller is a pastry chef and food writer in Phoenix, where she bakes, eats, and single-handedly keeps her local cheese shop in business. You can get more information about her pastry at www.pistolwhippedpastry.com, or on her blog at www.croissantinthecity.com.