It's July, the heat's on and when asked to make dessert for a party I pull an ice cream pie from my summertime recipe collection.
I do make the occasional exception for birthday cakes, but as a rule my oven takes a siesta in July and August. This baking vacation used to limit my dessert possibilities, that is, until premium ice creams hit the market.
Annie at the FairAnnie Overboe will be one busy baker this week. She'll be out at the DuPage County Fair judging food contests, giving baking workshops and demonstrating recipes at the Home Ec building at the Wheaton fair grounds. Here's when you can catch up with her.
2:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 24: Presenter for Baking -- The Blue Ribbon Edge.
7 p.m. Friday, July 26: Judge for Gold Medal Flour Scratch Bakers Cookie Challenge. (Entry deadline 6 p.m. July 26).
10 a.m. Saturday, July 27: Judge for Ghirardelli Chocolate Championship (Entry deadline 9 a.m. July 27)
3 p.m. Saturday, July 27: Presenter at the Gluten-free food expo
11 a.m. Sunday, July 28: Presenter at the Gluten-free food expo
Growing up, enjoying a great frozen dessert meant pulling out grandma's hand-cranked ice cream maker. Everyone fought to be first in the crank line, as churning became tougher when the cream mixture thickened and started freezing.
Today premium ice creams succeed where most commercial desserts fail. Unlike store bought cakes, cookies and other sweet treats, premium ice cream boasts top-of-the-line ingredients. Companies like Ben & Jerry's built their culinary reputations upon offering a treat as good (or do I dare say, possibly better) than grandma churned in her kitchen.
A great start, however it's the imaginative partnering of ingredients and catchy names that elevate premium ice creams to cult status. Admittedly, these irresistible treats often come with a hefty price. For this baker, serving a summertime dessert that meets my taste bud standards is priceless.
Yet with the exception of the dark chocolate varieties, all ice creams hit my taste buds as too sweet. And, yes, this includes those premium ice cream lines. So when I create ice cream pies for parties, I set my preferences aside and focus the flavor design upon my guests' tastes.
My upcoming 25th wedding anniversary inspired me to fashion a special ice cream pie with my taste buds in mind. Aside from chocolate, strawberries top my list of preferred dessert flavors. Maybe I could craft a marriage of flavors as successful as my own with Michael.
I found that many pints of premium strawberry ice cream also included distracting ingredients, such as cheesecake chunks. These types of add-ins tend to ratchet up the sugar content of already sweet ice creams.
While sampling a few frozen yogurts, inspiration hit: Would plain yogurt blend well with frozen strawberry ice cream?
Already a big fan of Greek yogurt, this plain version boasts no added sugar but loads of smooth and creamy texture. I figured Greek yogurt would cut the sweetness without compromising the signature consistency and headed into the kitchen to put this idea to the test.
After a few batches, I liked the version with 1½ cups of low-fat (2 percent) Greek yogurt stirred into strawberry ice cream while everyone else voted for less yogurt and more strawberry ice cream. Breyer's Natural Strawberry Ice cream met my flavor criteria and, as a bonus, included real fruit bits. As part of the compromise for dialing back the yogurt, I stirred in fresh chopped strawberries to boost fruit flavors.
I never thought it possible to create an ice cream pie -- without chocolate -- that would still please my taste buds. The less sweet taste of success is priceless.
• Annie Overboe, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, lives in Villa Park. Write her at email@example.com.