These desserts vary from the simple to the complex, but they all yield treats that are sure to bring out the kid in us. A variation on the classic frozen banana on a stick is enhanced with a touch of almond extract and a coating of crunchy toasted almonds.
Dried blueberries and white chocolate chips add depth to a traditional oatmeal cookie, which is then used to make easy ice-cream sandwiches with store-bought vanilla ice-cream.
Mango lassi popsicles -- a take on the Indian yogurt drink -- is a simple combination of mango purée, yogurt, sugar and lime juice that's a definite improvement on the sugary popsicles most of us know.
When you want to pull out the stops (and have a few hours to wait), make a batch of peach-rum-caramel ice-cream. Homemade ice-cream is a decadent treat, even more so with a ribbon of rum-flavored caramel running through it. If you make a batch in the morning, it will be ready in time for your nightly sojourn outside. And it will be well worth the wait.
White Chocolate- Blueberry Ice-Cream Sandwiches
11/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
11/2 sticks (12 Tbsps.) butter, softened
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups quick or old-fashioned uncooked oats
1 cup dried blueberries
11/2 cups white-chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°.
Grease two baking sheets.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugars on medium-high speed until smooth and combined, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla; mix to combine.
Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until combined. Add the oats and mix on low speed until combined. Add the blueberries and white chocolate, and mix a few seconds to combine, then remove bowl from mixer and fold ingredients together by hand until evenly distributed.
Arrange rounded tablespoons of batter on prepared pans about 2 inches apart.
Bake until just beginning to brown at edges, 8 to 10 minutes. Repeat with remaining cookie dough. Cool cookies completely on rack.
To Assemble Sandwiches: Place a slightly softened scoop of ice-cream in the center of a cookie and top with a second cookie, pressing down gently to spread the ice-cream evenly.
Serve immediately or freeze on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Makes 18 sandwiches.
Mango Lassi Popsicles
If your mangoes are very ripe and sweet, you'll only need two tablespoons of sugar.
2 cups mango purée (from 3 to 4 small mangoes)
2 Tbsps. honey
2-4 Tbsps. sugar
1 Tbsp. lime juice
1/2 cup Greek-style yogurt, drained
In a large bowl, combine the mango puree, honey, 2 to 4 tablespoons sugar and yogurt, and stir until smooth.
Spoon into popsicle molds and freeze until firm, for at least 2 hours.
Makes 8 popsicles.
Toasted-Almond Banana Pops
3 bananas, ripe, yet firm
1 cup semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1/2 cup chopped almonds, toasted
Cut each banana in half and insert a popsicle stick into the flat bottom of each banana.
Place the bananas on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
In a small bowl set over a pot of barely simmering water, melt the chocolate until smooth. Remove from heat, add the almond extract and stir gently to combine.
Dip each banana pop into the chocolate, turning to coat completely and evenly.
Sprinkle each pop with almonds, then lay on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining bananas. Freeze until set and firm, about 2 hours.
Makes 6 pops.
Caramelized Cherry Tomatoes
3 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup, plus 2 Tbsps., rum
21/2 cups sugar
2 lbs. peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups whole milk
In a small pot set over medium heat, combine 1 cup heavy cream and 1/4 cup rum, and heat until almost boiling. Set aside.
In a heavy-bottomed skillet, place 1 cup sugar and heat over medium-high heat. Cook until sugar begins to melt; when you see large patches of melted sugar, stir the sugar, and continue to cook until sugar is completely melted and amber in color.
Slowly add the warm cream and stir to combine. Transfer to a shallow bowl and refrigerate.
In a microwave-safe bowl, combine 1 cup of the peaches and the remaining 2 tablespoons rum. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave 1 to 2 minutes, or until peaches are warm and rum is absorbed. Set aside to cool. When cool, chop the peaches into small pieces.
Meanwhile, place the remaining peaches and remaining 11/2 cups sugar in the bowl of a food processor; process until smooth.
Pass the mixture through a fine mesh strainer, discarding solids. Place strained liquid in a large bowl, add the milk and remaining 2 cups of cream and whisk until combined.
Pour the mixture into an ice-cream maker and process according to your maker's instructions. When the mixture becomes the consistency of soft-serve ice-cream, add the reserved peaches and caramel.
Transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours.
Makes 2 quarts.
Keri Fisher is a food writer and the co-author of One Cake, One Hundred Desserts. E-mail her at: firstname.lastname@example.org .