The best part of summer: Desserts

By Kay Harrod


Summer sweets are usually less heavy than those dense cakes made in the fall and autumn and many usually involve fresh fruit of the season — strawberries, cherries, blueberries, blackberries.
Probably most popular right now for a dessert is the blackberry. Its less sweet fresh taste shouldn’t be overshadowed by sugar, but should definitely be enhanced by it. Always taste the blackberries before adding them to a pie or cobbler.
For those grillers and those who enjoy preparing a meal outside the kitchen, a recent recipe found in American Profile may be a delicious, familiar recipe to try. I made one once in a Dutch oven over an open camp fire, but the heat underneath was too hot and scorched the bottom.
Iron Skillet Blackberry Cobbler
Build a two-zone fire in a charcoal grill by placing coals on one side of the grill leaving the other side empty. Preheat grill. Chances are if you are already cooking on it, the coals will be preheated. Remove grill rack and push hot coals to one side.
One seasoned 10-inch iron skillet, buttered
2 sticks salted butter
2 cups whole milk
½ tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups self-rising flour
2 cups sugar or less depending on sweetness of berries
5 cups blackberries
Melt butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat and add milk, vanilla, flour and sugar. Stir together, but do not blend.
Add blackberries to buttered skillet. Pour batter over top.
Place skillet over indirect heat, away from coals. Close grill lid and cook until cobbler is golden brown on top — about an hour. Serve right from skillet.
Think about a scoop of homemade ice cream or lightly whipped cream to compliment the hot cobbler.
Involve the kids
It could be great fun to let the kids be involved making vanilla ice cream for the cobbler. Here are two methods for kid-friendly ice cream making.
Rolling the can is how we did this when the kids were little.
You will need a well-washed one pound (now about 12 ounces) coffee can and a three-pound coffee can.
Mix together 1 ½ cups heavy cream, ¼-cup sugar, one teaspoon vanilla. Pour into smaller coffee can and put on lid.
Place a small amount of rock salt in bottom of larger can. Put in smaller can. Pack with ice and add a layer of rock salt on top. Seal with lid.
Now have the kids roll the cans on a patio or flat service for about 15 minutes — back and forth. This can be done with several children. Remove smaller can from larger one. Wipe off top and unseal. If ice cream appears too soft, place in the freezer for about 10 minutes or repeat process in larger can, adding new salt and ice.
Here’s another take on kid-friendly ice cream that was recently published in American Profile — in case you missed it.
1 T sugar
1 cup half and half
½-tsp. vanilla
1 heavy quart-size zip top plastic bag
1 heavy gallon-size zip top plastic bag
Ice and rock salt
Place sugar, half and half and vanilla in smaller bag.
Place bag in larger bag and layer ice and rock salt.
Now let the fun begin as children toss the bag back and forth for about 10 minutes.
First, a note about cocoa powder. Most of us are familiar with Hershey’s cocoa powder. It is natural cocoa powder because it has not had its acids stripped.
Dutch processed cocoa has been washed in a potassium solution to neutralize its acidity. If a recipe calls for baking powder use Dutch-processed; if the recipe calls for baking soda, use cocoa powder like Hershey’s. In a recipe such as below it doesn’t matter.
Make these with your kids and see how long they can wait for them to freeze.
¾-cup evaporated milk
½-cup corn syrup
1 cup water
3 T golden brown sugar
½-cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa; or use Hershey’s
¼-tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 T unsalted butter
In a small saucepan, whisk the milk, water, corn syrup, sugar, cocoa, and salt. Heat over medium heat for about five minutes, stirring occasionally, until all the solids are dissolved and there are no lumps. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and butter until melted.
Cool the mixture to room temperature. Pour into molds and freeze for about 6 hours, or until solid. Add a stick after about an hour.
To store: Freeze up to 3 months. I doubt they would ever last this long. Store in the molds or release, wrap well in waxed paper, and store in a marked sealable plastic bag.

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