In my area of the world, it is often too hot at this time of year to spend a great deal of time baking when guests are coming for dinner. So during the cooler months, I like to make a few simple sponge cakes to keep in the freezer. That way I can make a refreshing dessert for company in the summer without a lot of fuss.
During the summer months, ice cream desserts can really “hit the spot”. It is easy to pull together a really great tasting dessert when it is hot with just a few simple ingredients. Here are a few ideas.
Simple Sponge Cake
- 6 eggs, separated
- 1 cup sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup cake flour
Cut parchment or wax paper to fit two 9″ round cake pans.
Separate eggs, putting whites in large mixer bowl and yolks in small mixer bowl.
Add 1/2 cup sugar and a pinch of salt to the whites and beat until very stiff.
Add 1/2 cup sugar to the yolks and beat until very thick and light yellow in color.
Fold egg yolk mixture into egg whites.
Fold flour in using 1//3 cup each time until well mixed.
Do not over-mix.
Divide the cake batter and pour into the prepared pans.
Bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry.
Cool for a few minutes, remove from pan and remove paper.
Tiramisu Ice Cream Parfaits
- 1 1/2 cups brewed coffee, cooled
- 4 cups (1-inch) cubed sponge cake (you could also use angel food cake or pound cake)
- 2 cups vanilla ice cream, softened
- 1 (3-ounce) dark chocolate bar, shaved with a vegetable peeler
- 1 cup fresh cherries, pitted and cut in half
In a bowl mix the cake cubes with 2/3 of the coffee until well soaked.
Stir ice cream in a second bowl until spoonable, then layer cake cubes and ice cream in parfait glasses. Top each with a drizzle of coffee, a generous amount of chocolate shavings and a few cherries. Serve immediately.
Pineapple Ice Cream Sandwiches
- 2 (1/4-inch thick) fresh pineapple slices, cut in circles
- 1 cup vanilla ice cream, softened
- Toasted flaked sweetened coconut
Grill pineapple slices over low to medium heat for 90 seconds on each side. Allow to cool briefly.
Sandwich the softened ice cream between the 2 grilled slices of pineapple. Coat sides in toasted coconut. Slice in half and serve immediately.
Affogato is an Italian drink that makes a wonderful alternative to iced coffee on a hot summer day. Affogato literally means “drowned”. It generally consists of gelato (Italian ice cream) that is topped with hot espresso or a liqueur. You can use freshly brewed espresso or instant or decaffeinated espresso, if you prefer. You may also top your drink with a liqueur such as Kahlua, Grand Marnier or Frangelico. You can also add a little powdered chocolate milk mix to the coffee for a mocha flavor. Traditionally, affogato is served with a biscotti on the side.
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
- 1 pint vanilla gelato or ice cream
- Shaved chocolate
Beat the cream until stiff peaks form.
Cover and refrigerate.
Stir the espresso powder into the boiling water until dissolved.
Place one scoop of gelato into 4 tall glasses or large coffee mugs.
Pour 2 to 4 tablespoons hot espresso over each.
Top each with a dollop of whipped cream and shaved chocolate. Serve immediately.
Tip: If you don’t have an espresso maker, use instant espresso powder and water; store the powder in your freezer after opening. Instant coffee will also work in a pinch, it just won’t be as full-flavored.
- 3 cups freshly brewed espresso
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
Stir hot espresso and sugar in a medium bowl until the sugar dissolves. Let the mixture cool to room temperature, then pour into a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.
Place on a level surface in your freezer and freeze for 2 hours, stirring and scraping with a fork every 20 minutes to break up the ice crystals. Cover and freeze for at least 1 hour more.
Beat cream and powdered sugar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on high-speed until medium peaks form, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Scrape the frozen granita into ice crystals using a sturdy fork.
To serve, layer the granita in dessert goblets and top each with a tablespoon of whipped cream.
Italian Coconut-Coffee Bites
- 1 ½ teaspoons instant espresso powder or 2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
- 2 ½ tablespoons boiling water
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
- 1 ¼ cups finely crushed biscotti crumbs
- 5 ounces mascarpone cheese, softened
- 5 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Line twenty-four mini muffin cups with paper baking cups; set aside.
Dissolve espresso powder in the boiling water; set aside.
For the crust:
In a medium nonstick skillet melt butter over medium-low heat. When butter is bubbling, add coconut. Cook and stir until coconut is toasted and golden brown. Stir in finely crushed biscotti crumbs. Remove pan from heat.
Spoon 1 teaspoon of the crumb mixture into each prepared muffin cup; press firmly to pack down. Place the muffin cup pan in the freezer. Keep remaining crumb mixture at room temperature to use for topping.
For the filling:
In a medium bowl beat mascarpone cheese with a wooden spoon until smooth and creamy, Beat in the sugar, cinnamon and salt until smooth and well mixed. Beat in vanilla and espresso.
Divide filling among the crumb-lined muffin cups. Top each cup with the reserved crumb mixture. With a fingertip, gently press topping into filling.
Freeze until firm, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.