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Keeping it cool: The best summer desserts often require no oven

  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch
  • Published Wednesday, July 18, 2012, at 7:05 a.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, July 18, 2012, at 7:06 a.m.

SPICED SESAME ORANGES

Adapted from “The Sweet Life” by Sam Talbot (Rodale, 2011).

Makes 4 servings.

2 large navel oranges

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon black sesame seeds

1 teaspoon white sesame seeds

1/2 cup soft goat cheese, crumbled, or 1/2 cup plain yogurt

Using a sharp knife, slice off the orange skins, removing all the white pith and catching any juices on a plate or in a bowl. Slice each orange crosswise into 5 or 6 slices and place in a shallow bowl.

In a small bowl, stir together honey, vanilla, cinnamon, sesame seeds and collected juice; mix until combined. Drizzle over the orange slices and chill for up to 45 minutes.

Divide the slices among 4 plates. Top each with 2 tablespoons goat cheese, drizzling the sauce on top.

Per serving: 197 calories; 13g fat; 7g saturated fat; 41mg cholesterol; 2g protein; 20g carbohydrate; 2g fiber; 14mg sodium.

THE WICHITA EAGLE — July 18, 2012

STOUT FLOATS

Adapted from “Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts” by Alice Medrich (Artisan, 2012).

Makes 6 servings.

8 tablespoons chocolate syrup, chilled, divided

6 tablespoons Kahlua or other coffee liqueur, divided

6 generous scoops chocolate ice cream

3 (12-ounce) or 2 (1-pint) bottles stout, chilled

Unsweetened whipped cream, optional

Pour 1 tablespoon chocolate syrup and 1 tablespoon coffee liqueur into each of 6 tall 10- to 12-ounce glasses. Add a scoop of ice cream to each.

Add 5 to 6 ounces of stout to each glass, tilting the glass and pouring gently down the side to prevent too much head from forming. Garnish with whipped cream, if desired, and drizzle each serving with 1 teaspoon chocolate syrup.

Per serving: 370 calories; 8g fat; 5g saturated fat; 20g cholesterol; 5g protein; 52g carbohydrate; 37g sugar; 1.5g fiber; 60mg sodium; 85mg calcium.

THE WICHITA EAGLE — July 18, 2012

ROQUEFORT PEARS

Adapted from “The Cheese Lover’s Cookbook” by Paula Lambert (Simon & Schuster, 2000).

Makes 4 servings.

3/4 cup crumbled Roquefort or other good blue cheese

1/2 cup mascarpone or cream cheese, softened

Juice of 1 lemon

4 large pears

1 cup pecans or walnuts, finely chopped

4 leaves fresh mint, for garnish

Using the back of a spoon or fork, mix blue cheese and cream cheese together in a small bowl until smooth.

Combine lemon juice with 1/2 cup water in a small bowl.

Peel pears if desired, leaving the stems attached, and trim a 1/4-inch slice off the bottom of the pears so that they will stand upright. Cut each pear lengthwise in half, remove the core and scoop out a cavity inside each pear half. Dip both sides of each half into the lemon water immediately after preparing to prevent discoloring.

Divide the cheese into eight portions. Place the nuts on a piece of waxed paper. Fill the cavities of the pears with the cheese mixture, then press the two halves of each pear together so that they are whole again.

Smooth or remove any cheese that shows between the two halves. Roll the pears in the nuts. Stand pears upright on a plate or tray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

Just before serving, sprinkle pears with nuts and garnish each pear by inserting a mint leaf near the stem. Serve pears upright on dessert plates, providing forks and knives.

Per serving: 515 calories; 41g fat; 14g saturated fat; 55g cholesterol; 11g protein; 32g carbohydrate; 18g sugar; 8g fiber; 370mg sodium; 210mg calcium.

THE WICHITA EAGLE — July 18, 2012

GRASSHOPPER ICE CREAM PIE

Adapted from “Classic Southern Desserts” by the editors of Southern Living (Oxmoor House, 2010).

Makes 8 servings.

30 cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies

5 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 gallon mint chocolate chip ice cream

1 (8-ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed

1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar, optional

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Process cookies in a food processor or blender until ground; add butter and process until blended.

Reserve 1/2 cup of the cookie mixture. Firmly press the remaining mixture into an ungreased 13-by-9 inch pan. Chill for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, soften ice cream at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes.

Spoon ice cream over chilled crust. Cover and freeze for 1 hour.

Stir together whipped topping, powdered sugar and vanilla; spread over ice cream. Sprinkle with the reserved 1/2 cup crumbs. Cover and freeze at least 8 hours.

Per serving: 680 calories; 42g fat; 25g saturated fat; 69g cholesterol; 5g protein; 70g carbohydrate; 55g sugar; 1g fiber; 310mg sodium; 160mg calcium.

THE WICHITA EAGLE — July 18, 2012

CHOCOLATE MOUSSE FIX

Adapted from “Chocolate on the Brain,” by Kevin Mills and Nancy Mills (Houghton Mifflin, 2000).

Makes 4 servings.

2 cups fat-free ricotta cheese

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon milk, plus more if needed

1 teaspoon vanilla extract, creme de cacao, Kahlua or Grand Marnier

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process for several minutes or until smooth. Add another tablespoon of milk if the mousse is too thick.

Divide evenly among four small dishes or pour into a single serving bowl. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate until needed.

Per serving: 290 calories; 2g fat; 1g saturated fat; 10g cholesterol; 19g protein; 53g carbohydrate; 42g sugar; 5g fiber; 165mg sodium; 425mg calcium.

THE WICHITA EAGLE — July 18, 2012

Fire up the oven? Seriously? During a summer of record-setting highs?

The searing temperatures mean that this is high season for no-bake desserts. We’ve compiled easy recipes that don’t require you to turn on the stove, let alone the oven. In addition to the recipes, here are some simple ideas for improvising your own quick, easy and pleasing no-bake desserts:

•  Terrific trifles: Pick up fruit at the farmers market or grocery along with a large container of plain or vanilla yogurt. Peel the fruit if necessary, cut into bite-size pieces and puree some of it in a blender. Stir the pureed fruit into the yogurt. Taste; if it’s too tart, add a bit of honey, maple syrup or another sweetener. Alternate the rest of the fruit with the flavored yogurt in a glass bowl or individual glasses.

Or for a more sophisticated trifle, grab some gingerbread or another hearty sweet bread from a bakery. Cut it into cubes, drizzle it with rum, liqueur or fruit syrup, and layer it with whipped cream and store-bought lemon curd.

•  Cheese and honey: Put a scoop of ricotta or another soft, mild cheese on a plate, drizzle with honey and garnish with nuts and pieces of fresh or dried fruit.

•  Custom ice-cream sandwiches: Start with a favorite ice cream — perhaps chocolate chip. Pick a complementary large cookie from the cookie aisle — maybe chocolate chip cookies. Let the ice cream soften a little, then stir in crushed crispy cookies — such as chocolate wafers. Now assemble the sandwiches and stick them in the freezer in sandwich bags for about an hour or until they firm up.

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