Here are three recipes for those times when you are entertaining but either don't have time or aren't in the mood to bake. Now I admit I have been known to pop open a box of Dove Bars for company on occasion but in general, I prefer something a little more original. I'll order them by degree of difficulty and mess, starting with one so easy that it is not even a recipe, just an idea, and a tasty one at that.
Yep, that's it. Pieces of your favorite ice cream sandwich skewered with a juicy sweet raspberry on a cute bamboo toothpick. Put your serving platter in the freezer for a bit so they won't melt while they are being passed around. Shouldn't be a problem...they disappear quickly.
Mini Ice Cream Sandwiches
You might be surprised to taste the difference between these semi-homemade ice cream sandwiches and the store bought variety. I like to use small cookies so the dessert becomes a 3-4 bite treat. The soft Entenmann's cookies make good sandwiches as do the crispy, buttery mini cookies that many gourmet companies package for sale. The Chips Ahoy cookies tend to get rock hard in the freezer so I avoid those.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with waxed paper and set your favorite gourmet ice cream out to soften a bit. Use a table knife to generously mound ice cream onto one cookie and top with a second cookie. Take care not to press the sandwich together too firmly, just a gentle touch so that it will hold together. I like to quickly over-fill as many cookies as possible then put the whole sheet in the freezer to firm up for 15 minutes. Then I quickly trim around the edges of each sandwich with a table knife to neaten them up.
As an extra touch, I like to drizzle melted white chocolate and melted semi sweet chocolate over the tops of the ice cream sandwiches. The quickest and easiest way to do this it to melt the chocolates separately in glass Pyrex cups in the microwave then stir and use a fork to drizzle. After the sandwiches are frozen firmly, cover with plastic wrap or store in a zip lock freezer bag until ready to serve.
Ice Cream Bonbons
These little ice cream bonbons may be a little more work than the 2 previous desserts....but I think that these will be my go-to sweet shortcut for summer 2011. If you like buttery caramel, covered in chocolate and dusted with flakes of sea salt just imagine how much you will love this same treat substituting caramel ice cream. Adapted from the June 2011 issue of Food and Wine in an article on Ice Cream Parlor Tricks, these are just my style for summer entertaining.
10 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
2 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup finely chopped chocolate wafer cookies (such as Nabisco Famous Wafers)
1 pint caramel ice cream (I used Haagen Dazs Dulche de Leche)
Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling
In a medium heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt the dark and white chocolate together. Scrape into a smaller cowl and let cool slightly.
Put the crushed cookies on a small plate. Line 2 baking sheets with wax paper and place one in the freezer. Fill a cup wit ice water
Working very quickly, scoop a 1 tablespoon size scoop of ice cream, packing it tightly. Transfer it to the melted chocolate. Using a skewer, poke the rounded top of the ice cream and coat the ball int he chocolate. Lift the bonbon, allowing the excess chocolate to drip into the bowl. dip the bottom of the bonbon in the cookie crumbs and set on the baking sheet. Sprinkle salt on tom. Let stand for 10 seconds then transfer the bonbon to the baking sheet in the freezer. Repeat to form the remaining bonbons; dip the ice cream scoop in the ice water between scoops. Freeze the bonbons until firm 30 minutes. then serve.
(I found it helpful to use a mini scoop (the one I use for cookie dough) and make all of the the ice cream balls at one time and freeze them solid before I began the chocolate dipping process.)