Summertime is the period of natural sweetness. Starting with strawberries in June and progressing to raspberries, melons, plums, apricots and peaches in late summer, you have a tantalizing array of just-picked desserts ready to sample. However, no matter how luscious the berry or fruit, that added something, be it ice cream or the perfect cookie, adds just that extra touch to the natural goodness to make it summer perfection!
Here are two of my favourite creations for summer heaven – both simple to prepare but divine to taste.
Homemade vanilla ice cream
You don’t need to have a fancy ice-cream machine to make this perfect dessert. Serve it with any summer berry or fruit and you will be a star! (P.S. – It never hurts to let them know you made homemade ice cream!)
With this recipe you actually get two desserts in one. In the unfrozen state you have a custard sauce, ideal to serve with fruit or cake. Once frozen the custard sauce becomes ice cream!
1 cup (250 mL) light cream (10%)
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 2 tsp (10 mL) pure vanilla
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup (125 mL) granulated sugar
1 cup (250 mL) whipping cream, whipped
Using a sharp knife, split vanilla bean and scrape out seeds. In heavy saucepan, heat light cream and vanilla bean with seeds just until tiny bubbles appear at the edge of the saucepan. (This state is technically called scalded milk). Remove warm cream from heat and let stand.
Meanwhile, in large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until thickened and light in colour, about three minutes. Gradually whisk in warm cream and vanilla bean mixture. Transfer back to saucepan; cook custard over medium heat whisking constantly, about five minutes or until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Be careful not to boil. Immediately remove from heat. Remove vanilla bean if using or add vanilla extract, and let cool.
Meanwhile, beat whipping cream until stiff peaks form and fold into cooled custard. Cover and put into freezer until firm, about four hours. For the best flavour, ice cream should soften slightly in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes before serving. Makes about 3 cups (750 mL).
Daphne’s Oatmeal Squares
This is my mother’s recipe, and it never fails to please. It only dirties one bowl and it takes 20 minutes from start to finish to prepare, bake and have ready to eat (although you should wait until it cools to cut into squares, but who can wait?).
1/2 cup (125 mL) butter, melted
1½ cups (375 mL) quick-cooking oatmeal
1 cup (250 mL) lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup (125 mL) sweetened flaked coconut
1 tsp (5 mL) pure vanilla
Frosting: 1½ cups (375 mL) semi-sweet chocolate chips
Line an 8- or 9-inch (23 cm) square baking pan with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350˚F (180˚C). In a large glass bowl, melt butter. Stir in oatmeal, brown sugar, coconut, vanilla and salt. Combine mixture well. Spread evenly in prepared pan; pack down lightly. Bake about 15 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Immediately sprinkle top surface evenly with chocolate chips. Allow chips to melt and spread the chips into a smooth chocolate frosting on top of the square. If desired you may make a decorative finish by running the tines of a fork down then crosswise. Let cool completely before cutting into 24 squares.
Jan Main is an author, cooking instructor and caterer ~ firstname.lastname@example.org