Keep your cool with delicious DIY frozen desserts

Some top Vancouver culinary talents share their tips for easy summertime treats

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      We’ll do anything to beat the heat here at the Straight, and if that means cooling off with frozen summery desserts, so be it. We checked in with some of the city’s top culinary talents to get their recommendations for icy DIY deliciousness so you can stay cool.

      For Kenta Takahashi, pastry chef at Boulevard Kitchen and Oyster Bar, stone fruits scream summer. “I like other summer fruits, like berries, but stone fruit is such a special thing for me,” Takahashi tells the Straight. “Strawberry season is winter in my home country [of Japan], and berries are still in the market in other seasons, but stone fruits aren’t. I love to taste summer with those fruits.”

      One idea is a frozen peach smoothie. “Pair the sweetness of the peaches with a splash of grapefruit juice, which adds a sharp note that balances out bitterness and acidity,” he says. Blend with ice. For adults, spike it with a shot of Soho Lychee Liqueur to boost fruity flavour.

      Railtown Café pastry chef Shelley McKenzie likes to re-create paletas, or Mexican-style popsicles, which she discovered while traveling in Latin America.

      Simply purée fruit with a touch of sugar and a bit of cream and pour into popsicle moulds or Dixie cups. “Mango, with its natural creaminess, works really well here, but the options are limitless,” McKenzie says. “You can make some for the kids and not worry about a lot of sugar, food colouring, and artificial flavours. For an adult taste, add a splash of something special, like rum, tequila, or gin.”

      Frozen desserts are some of Amy Ho’s favourite summertime treats. “I like to always have individually wrapped DIY homemade ice-cream sandwiches handy, ready to bring to a socially distant barbecue or offer guests after dinner,” says Ho, author of Blooms and Baking.

      Ho has a few ways to elevate store-bought ingredients for ice-cream sammies; one is using brownie mix. She’ll divide the batter into two prepared pans, with parchment paper hanging over the edges. After they’ve cooled completely, you can scoop any flavour of ice cream on top of one of the layers, spreading with a spatula. Top with the other slab, freeze, then slice into squares (nine to 12) when ready to serve.

      Another is to use cookies. All you need to do is place a generous scoop of ice cream between two of them. “To take your ice-cream sandwiches to the next level, transfer ice cream of choice onto a sheet tray and spread even with a spatula, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and freeze for four hours or overnight until firm,” Ho says. “When ready to assemble sandwiches, use a circle cookie cutter that is of similar size to your cookies to stamp out ice cream ‘cutouts’ to sandwich between cookies.”

      Ho makes ice-cream “drumsticks” by melting chocolate chunks or chips and coconut oil (about 1 tablespoon of coconut oil for every cup of chocolate chunks) in a double boiler or in the microwave. “Drizzle the chocolate into the waffle cones and swirl around to coat the inside of each cone,” she says. “Place the cones on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze for 15 minutes or until the chocolate has set.”

      From there, pack ice cream into each cone, then dip the top of each cone into the melted chocolate to seal the cones. Top with nuts or sprinkles, and freeze for at least four hours.