Create: Fun to Eat Frozen Treats
Photography by Janet Warlick, shot on location at RiverMarket Tower Condos, 315 Rock St., Little Rock, AR, rivermarkettower.com
It is mid-summer, and we are ready for cool ideas. The world of cool treats is wide and deep — ices, ice creams, gelatos, sorbets, granitas, sherbets — there are so many ways to use fresh ingredients to create refreshing treats.
This past winter I worked with recipes from celebrity chefs Giada De Laurentiis and Nigella Lawson. Both have a knack for developing recipes that are creative, simple and delicious. This month’s theme gave me the opportunity to dip into my files on Laurentiis and Lawson to offer some refreshing and different ideas for cooling off.
Note: While the Watermelon Lemonade can be put together quickly, the granitas and semifreddo require some advance planning, as they need several hours in the freezer. Additionally, with no commercial ingredients such as stabilizers, each of the frozen treats is best eaten shortly after it is made, but they will hold in the freezer for an additional day or two before their texture changes.
Although this very-adult treat is called a granita, the alcohol will inhibit the freezing process, and the result will be thick and creamy, rather than icy, and more like a sherbet.
• 1 cup sugar
• Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
• 1 cup (8 ounces) mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
• ½ cup limoncello liqueur
• Pinch of fine sea salt
Make a simple syrup: in a small sauce pan combine the sugar, 1 cup water and the lemon zest and juice over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool, about 20 minutes.
Combine the lemon simple syrup, mascarpone cheese, limoncello and salt in a food processor. Process until the mixture is smooth. Pour the mixture into an 8-by-8 inch glass-baking dish, cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 4 hours. The alcohol will prevent the mixture from freezing into a hard block — the finished product is a thick, cold, creamy mixture.
To serve, dollop into chilled martini, champagne or wine glasses. Serve immediately. Yields four servings.
Optional garnish: a sprinkle of lemon zest and biscotti.
Adapted from Giada at Home by Giada De Laurentiis
Roughly translated from the Italian, “semifreddo” means “half-cold.” This recipe is a variation on a theme, which combines ingredients for frozen desserts. It will not freeze to rock hard and melts quickly, which is part of the pleasure.
• 5 egg yolks, brought to room temperature
• Scant ½ cup best-quality honey, local if possible, plus 3 tablespoons or so for serving
• 1 1/3 cups heavy cream
• 2 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted
Line a standard 5-cup (approximately 8 ½-by-4 ½-by-3 inch) loaf pan with plastic wrap. In a metal or glass bowl, stir the egg yolks and honey until combined, then set over a saucepan of gently simmering water. The water should not touch the bottom of the bowl. Whisk continuously until the mixture thickens and lightens and registers 160 degrees on a thermometer, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and continue to whisk for another minute or two to cool the mixture.
Whip the cream until very thick — but not stiff. Gently fold in the egg and honey mixture and fold just to combine. Pour into the prepared loaf pan, cover carefully with plastic wrap and put into the freezer for about 4 hours, until firm.
To serve, turn the semifreddo onto a suitable sized plate and drizzle this manila-colored log with honey and sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts. Serve immediately. Although it thaws very quickly the melting texture is part of its appeal. Yields six to eight servings.
Adapted from Forever Summer by Nigella Lawson
Strawberry and Mascarpone Granita
Pureeing the strawberries before freezing helps keep them from turning into icy nuggets and enhances the strawberry flavor. The addition of the mascarpone smoothes the texture. Yum!
- ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ cup chopped fresh mint leaves
- 2 cups coarsely-chopped strawberries plus 1 cup finely-diced strawberries
- ½ cup mascarpone cheese
- 3 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- Pinch of salt
Place ½ cup sugar and the mint leaves in a small pan with 1 cup of water and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally to help dissolve the sugar. Let simmer over low heat for 5 minutes to steep the mint. Strain the mint from the simple syrup, and set the syrup aside to cool. Discard the mint.
In a food processor, combine the 2 cups of coarsely-chopped strawberries with the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Run the machine to puree the strawberries. Add the mascarpone, lemon juice and salt, and process until the mascarpone is fully incorporated. Add the mint syrup, and pulse just to combine. Pour the mixture into an 8-by-8 inch glass dish, cover with plastic wrap and freeze until firm, approximately 4 hours.
To serve, scrape the granita into chilled bowls, top with the finely- diced strawberries and serve immediately. Yields four to six servings
Adapted from Giada’s Kitchen by Giada De Laurentiis
This recipe is a perennial favorite for adults and kids alike. Three ingredients, no sugar added and a great use for extra watermelon!
- 4 cups seedless watermelon chunks
- Juice of 2 limes
- Juice of 2 lemons
- Cold water or ice to taste
Combine half of all the ingredients, except water or ice, together in a food processor or blender. Process until smooth, and strain through fine mesh strainer. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Stir two batches together in pitcher. Serve over ice. Add additional cold water to taste.
Adapted from recipe submitted by Daman Hoffman, Little Rock, AR
Still scream for ice cream?
Grab a serving of Yarnell’s. The Searcy, Ark.-based creamery reopened April 15 to the great relief of Arkansans.
“Thus far, we’re producing six days a week to meet the market demand. Sales are exceeding our expectations,” Mitch Evans, vice president, sales, Yarnell’s, said. “Arkansans’ response has been amazing — they’re the reason we’re back.”
Yarnell’s produces 17 varieties, the classics, which include chocolate, vanilla and Ozark black walnut; three Guilt Free low-calorie versions; and five yogurts, in 56-ounce and three gallon-versions. They also make ice cream sandwiches. Evans said the “feature flavors,” specially-formulated flavors, will be available in the fall.
Yarnell’s is sold in Missouri, Oklahoma and outlying states at major grocers, including Walmart; Edwards Grocer; Kroger; and Crawford’s
Questions? Reach Faith via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.