There are several sure indicators of summer in central Virginia: an abundance of local produce, steamy temperatures and the steady activity at ice cream drive-in’s and frozen yogurt shops
Additionally, supermarket sales of ice cream and other frozen desserts ratchet up considerably. Many baby boomers inevitably wax nostalgic about the old-fashioned pleasures of homemade ice cream. Modern ice cream makers have sped up this once tedious process, and the results can be excellent. But there are many delectable frozen treats you can easily prepare at home without benefit of special appliances. Here are some deep-freeze delights suitable for both family dining and informal entertaining.
If you’re older than 50, you might recall when Baked Alaska was considered the hallmark of elegant desserts.Today it is rarely found on a restaurant menu, but this simplified version will delight you and your guests.Vary the ice cream flavors according to personal tastes.
1 1/4 cups crushed vanilla wafers
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup melted butter
FILLING & TOPPING:
1 pint coffee ice cream, softened
1 pint chocolate ice cream, softened
5 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
6 tablespoons sugar
Several hours before serving, prepare crust: combine all ingredients and press into a 9-inch pie pan. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool thoroughly.
Spread both ice creams in two layers not quite to the edges of the pie crust. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until the ice cream is firm again.
Prepare a meringue by combining the egg whites and cream of tartar in a large bowl. Beat at low speed until frothy, and then beat at high speed until stiff. Gradually, beat in the sugar until meringue is stiff and glossy.
Pile the meringue on top of the frozen pie, and spread all the way to the edges of the crust. Freeze again. About 15 minutes before serving, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the pie pan on a cookie sheet and bake for 5 minutes, or until the tips of the meringue are just beginning to brown. Serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.
Any variety (or combination) of seasonal berries can be used to create a refreshing, fat-free dessert that does not require an ice cream maker. Adjust the amount of sugar and lemon juice used depending on the sweetness of the berries.
2 quarts fresh berries, rinsed
3/4 to 1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup water
2 to 3 teaspooons fresh lemon juice
The day before serving, puree the berries in a food processor and set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring to a full, rolling boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, and let cool slightly. Combine the syrup and pureed berries and add the lemon juice. Taste and add more lemon juice if needed. Pour into a stainless steel bowl, cover with plastic wrap and freeze until almost set—6 to 8 hours. Remove from the freezer and beat well with an electric mixer. Cover and return to the freezer overnight. Makes 2 quarts.
EASY FROZEN AMBROSIA
Just five ingredients are needed to create a soothing, creamy dessert.
4 cups orange juice
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 1/2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar, divided
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
In a large bowl, combine the orange and lemon juice with 2 1/4 cups of confectioner’s sugar. Mix until the sugar is completely dissolved. Pour into an 8-by-12-inch glass pan (or two freezer trays), and freeze until firm. In a medium bowl, with mixer on high, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining sugar and vanilla, and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Spread over the frozen orange mixture and return to the freezer at least one hour before serving. Serves 6 to 8.
HOMEMADE OREO ICE CREAM
In previous columns, we have frequently sung the praises of sweetened condensed milk, which can be used to create dozens of ethereal desserts in a matter of minutes. Here, it is combined with Oreos to fashion an easy and enticing dessert. Do NOT substitute whipped topping for the whipped cream.
1 pint heavy cream
3 egg yolks
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons water
4 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup coarsely chopped Oreo cookies
In a large bowl, with mixer on high, whip the cream until stiff and set aside. In another large bowl, beat the egg yolks with a wire whisk until thick. Stir in the next three ingredients. Fold in the crushed cookies and the whipped cream. Pour the mixture into a foil-lined 9-by-5-inch loaf pan (or other 2-quart container). Cover and freeze for 6 hours, or until firm. Ice cream can be served with a scooper, or you can remove the "loaf" from the pan, peel off the foil, and cut into slices. Serves 8.
Ginnie Manuel is a Midlothian-based freelance writer and cookbook author.