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Byline: Natalie Haughton Food Editor

Chill out.

Watermelon ice cream bombe, grasshopper pie, cappuccino panna cotta, mango raspberry charlotte, frozen pina colada mousse and black bottom pudding parfaits are just a few tempting, cool and no-fuss icebox desserts to beat the summer heat. You can turn them out in no time with a little help from your refrigerator or freezer.

``A true icebox dessert requires no baking - and many also require no cooking - simply going together with a little mixing or layering of the ingredients,'' says Lauren Chattman, author of the recently released ``Icebox Desserts'' (Harvard Common Press; $17.95 paperback). ``If any cooking is required, it's done stove-top.'' She refers to some of her icebox desserts as more like construction projects than recipes - treasures stashed in the fridge or freezer to set up before eating.

Retro icebox desserts are popular for summertime entertaining, says Chattman, because people are looking for something simple that can be prepared in advance and doesn't take all day.

Sherry Yard, executive pastry chef at Spago, Beverly Hills, like most cooks, also wants to avoid a hot pastry kitchen and limits her oven baking this time of year. Her summer finales are light with several ice creams and sorbets, among them peach, cherry, boysenberry and apricot, along with espresso granita.

Yard says her childhood favorite cool desserts were from the Good Humor truck - toasted almond bars and strawberry shortcake on a stick - adding that her mother never ever made desserts.

``We went to the local bakery (for desserts) - one of the best bakeries in all of New York - Leon's Bakery in Brooklyn on Knapp Street,'' says Yard, who landed in the dessert business by a fluke when she moved from being a cocktail waitress to the pastry kitchen at New York's Rainbow Room - and never looked back.

Today, Yard offers a sophisticated strawberry shortcake reminiscent of that nostalgic childhood version. She swirls homemade strawberry sorbet with vanilla ice cream, then scoops out round balls, rolls them in raspberry powder pulverized with ground sugar-toasted almonds and serves with fresh strawberries and strawberry syrup.

Another fabulous option for diners on a hot day is her Viennese cafe glace - a shot of espresso poured over a scoop of vanilla ice cream and topped with whipped cream. Or whisk the ice cream with espresso - it turns out like whipped coffee semifreddo - then layer in a prefrozen parfait glass with slightly sweetened whipped cream, return to the freezer and serve within a couple of hours.

``We do a lot of stove-top sauteing instead of baking crumbles or cobblers in the oven.''

She makes a stove-top mother fruit sauce for strawberries (and other fruits), for instance, by cooking and reducing orange juice, strawberries, sugar, seasonings and spices, then straining and chilling in the fridge. Before serving, Yard heats some fresh strawberries with a little of the sauce on the cooktop, then places in individual prebaked tartlet shells and tops with a prebaked crumble mixture and a scoop of ice cream or lemon gelato. The blackberry mother sauce is a combination of blackberries, red wine, sugar, oranges, lemons, vanilla beans and a whisper of cinnamon stick.

In Chattman's collection of 100 fun and sometimes eye-popping desserts, you'll find quick and refreshing recipes for a variety of tastes and occasions, many with old-fashioned flavor, as the term icebox suggests.

``They are all beautiful and special but with a homemade look rather than a professional gloss,'' says Chattman. ``Today we take for granted the amazing workhorse capability of our refrigerators and freezers, but back when the term icebox was coined, the refrigerator was absolutely worshipped for its ability to chill food and keep it fresh. I'm amazed what you can do without baking at all, or too much baking.''

Use the best, highest-quality ingredients and avoid convenience foods, advises Chattman, a former pastry chef who grew up eating mousses and puddings.

``I don't use Cool Whip, jarred fudge sauce, chocolate pudding mix - it's gross - or prepared tart shells.'' But she is not opposed to using store-bought pound cake, cookies, ice creams or sherbets and marshmallow creme.

To soften ice cream quickly, zap a few seconds in a microwave oven - but watch carefully.

``If you let ice cream sit on the counter, it gets too soft on the outside before it is soft inside.''

When using gelatin in desserts, be aware it's a two-step process - softening in cool water, then heating until dissolved. Be sure to dissolve cornstarch in cold water before using so you don't end up with lumps in a finished dish, she reminds. And, to avoid ruining cream, don't overwhip it.

Natalie Haughton, (818) 713-3692



3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 cup water

2 cups heavy whipping cream, chilled

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 medium ripe bananas

20 vanilla wafers, coarsely crushed

Combine 3/4 cup sugar and water in a small heavy saucepan, bring to a boil, and let boil until it turns a light amber color. Do not stir. If part of syrup is turning darker than the rest, gently tilt pan to even out cooking. When the syrup is a uniform amber color, stir in 1/2 cup cream with a long-handled spoon. Be very careful, because it will bubble up. Transfer to a heat-proof measuring cup, stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla, then let cool 5 to 10 minutes.

Peel bananas and, over a small bowl, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Pour syrup over them, toss gently to coat and let cool completely.

In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, whip together remaining 1 1/2 cups cream, remaining 1 tablespoon sugar and remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla until it just holds stiff peaks.

Sprinkle 1/2 of crushed cookies into 6 sundae dishes or parfait glasses. Spoon 1/2 of whipped cream on top. Spoon 1/2 of caramel-coated bananas on top of whipped cream. Repeat so that you have two layers each of cookies, whipped cream and bananas. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours before serving. Makes 6 servings.

From ``Icebox Desserts,'' by Lauren Chattman.


27 chocolate wafer cookies

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

3 tablespoons cold water

1 (12-ounce) bag frozen raspberries

3/4 cup sugar

2 cups heavy whipping cream, chilled

2 tablespoons framboise (raspberry liqueur)

1 teaspoon vanilla

Line a 9 1/2x4x3-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap, making sure plastic wrap is tucked into all corners and there is at least 1 inch overhanging top of pan on all sides. Working with one cookie at a time, spread the more rounded side of 9 wafer cookies with a thin layer of melted chocolate and place 3 of them, chocolate side down, on the bottom of pan. Place another 3 cookies against each long side of the pan, chocolate-coated sides facing the pan. Place pan in the freezer.

Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in a small bowl and let soften 2 minutes.

Combine raspberries and sugar in a medium heavy saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring a few times, until sugar dissolves and mixture is warm to touch. Stir in gelatin mixture. Let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.

Combine cream, framboise and vanilla in large bowl and, using an electric mixer, whip until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in cooled raspberry mixture, taking care not to deflate cream.

Remove pan from freezer. Pour all but 1/4 of mousse into pan. Smooth top with a rubber spatula. Insert remaining 18 cookies into mousse, arranging them vertically in three rows of six so they are lined up with chocolate wafers on sides of pan. Spread remaining mousse over wafers and smooth with spatula. The pan should be full to the top. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until completely set, at least overnight and up to 1 week.

To unmold, gently tug plastic wrap that lines pan to loosen cake. Place a serving platter over pan and turn over. Gently tap to release. Carefully peel plastic wrap from the cake. Cut into slices and serve immediately. Makes 6 servings.

From ``Icebox Desserts,'' by Lauren Chattman.


1 quart lime sherbet, slightly softened

1 cup vanilla ice cream

1 quart strawberry sherbet OR raspberry sorbet

1/2 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips

Line a 2-quart bowl with plastic wrap so it overhangs side of bowl by at least 1 inch.

Let lime sherbet soften 5 minutes on counter. Spoon sherbet into bowl, pressing it into bottom and up side with back of a spoon to form a smooth layer. Place in freezer 20 minutes to firm up.

Let vanilla ice cream soften 5 minutes on counter. Use an offset spatula to smooth it over lime sherbet in a thin layer. Place in freezer another 20 minutes to firm up.

Let strawberry sherbet or raspberry sorbet soften 5 minutes on counter. Spoon it into a large bowl and mix in chocolate chips. Spoon this into the bowl containing the lime sherbet and vanilla ice cream so it fills in the remaining space and comes to the top of the bowl. Smooth top and cover with plastic wrap. Freeze for at least 6 hours, or up to 1 week.

To unmold, remove plastic wrap from top of bowl. Gently tug at overhanging plastic lining bowl to loosen ice cream. Place a serving platter over bowl, invert, and shake to release. Peel away plastic wrap, cut into wedges, and serve immediately. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

From ``Icebox Desserts,'' by Lauren Chattman.


This creamy mousselike dessert is dotted throughout with chopped fresh peaches. It's also delicious with fresh nectarines or raspberries - or a mixture.

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla OR almond extract

3 fresh peaches, peeled and coarsely chopped

In a medium bowl with an electric mixer at high speed, beat cream to stiff peaks. In small bowl with same beaters, beat cream cheese with sugar on medium speed until smooth. Beat in vanilla until blended. With mixer on low speed, gently beat in 1/2 of whipped cream. Remove mixer and by hand, fold in remaining whipped cream and chopped peaches. Spoon mousse into 6 stemmed dessert glasses or dishes, dividing evenly. Refrigerate until serving time. Makes 6 servings.

From ``The 5 in 10 Dessert Cookbook,'' by Natalie Haughton.


These are similar to a terrific ice cream dessert known as tartufo. It's hard to believe that anything so tasty can be so simple.

1 quart premium dark chocolate OR French vanilla ice cream

1/4 cup finely chopped candied orange peel

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

8 to 10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into 1/4-inch chunks

Let ice cream stand until slightly softened but not melted, 5 to 10 minutes. In a medium bowl, mix together ice cream, candied orange peel and Grand Marnier. Using an ice cream scoop, quickly shape mixture into 6 balls. Place in a covered container and freeze until hard, 6 hours or overnight.

Place chopped chocolate on a sheet of wax paper or in a shallow dish. One at a time, remove balls from freezer and quickly roll in chocolate to coat completely. Press chocolate into ice cream. Return to freezer immediately and keep frozen up to 10 days before serving. Serve with raspberry sauce (heat some seedless raspberry jam with a few tablespoons or more water or orange juice in a microwave oven to thin so you can drizzle or pool on the dessert plate). Makes 6 servings.

From ``365 Great Chocolate Desserts,'' by Natalie Haughton.


3 photos


(1 -- cover -- color) just chill

Icebox desserts that beat the heat



Photo by Duane Winfield from ``Icebox Desserts: 100 Cool Recipes for Icebox Cakes, Pies, Parfaits, Mousses, Puddings, and More,'' Harvard Common Press
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Recipe
Date:Aug 2, 2005
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