Dessert expert Alice Medrich knows more than a thing or two about ice cream and other frozen treats.
Today, she shares 9 frozen desserts—from granitas to floats to semifreddos—that go above and beyond your store-bought vanilla and chocolate.
Granita is easy to make: Partially freeze a flavorful, lightly sweetened liquid or purée in a shallow pan, rake it with a fork, then freeze and rake again to form icy shards and crystals. Granita alone is already perfect, but it’s dreamy topped with whipped cream and magical spooned over a scoop of vanilla ice cream—the contrast of icy with creamy gets me every time.
The word “semifreddo” is Italian for half frozen, and the dessert so named falls between ice cream and mousse. Instead of getting churned, the mixture is poured into a mold and frozen, then unmolded and sliced. This one is rich and chocolaty. Serve it simply with a spoonful of whipped cream, or gussy it up further with a sprinkling of chopped caramelized nuts or crushed toffee.
I’m all for quick and easy ice creams that don’t require an ice cream machine. This one has only four ingredients and doesn't need to be cooked at all. Somewhere between ice cream and sherbet, it’s neither as creamy-rich as the first nor as icy as the latter. By using sour cream in place of a custard base, you'll get a dessert that's colder and more refreshing in your mouth than classic ice cream, with a cleaner and tangier fruit flavor.
This simple, seductive dessert— inspired by a salad in Paula Wolfert’s first Moroccan cookbook, published decades ago—is composed in individual serving bowls: small scoops of creamy vanilla ice cream and icy mango sorbet in a pool of juicy, scented orange segments with sticky dates, toasted almonds, and a fragrant top note of freshly grated cinnamon stick.
Forget about mint oil, mint extract, or mint flavoring: Infusing fresh mint leaves in cold (rather than hot) cream is the big secret to the fresh mint flavor in this delicate ice cream. The mint leaves are never heated—they are simply left to sit in cold cream for several hours so that the flavor remains bright and clean rather than cooked or vegetal.
If you want crunchy chunks of good chocolate or shards that shatter and then melt with a big burst of chocolate flavor (even in a rich chocolate ice cream), it’s better to melt the chocolate, then chill it and chop it.
7. Beer Floats
Some really serious beer people may frown at the idea of spoiling a good brew with ice cream, but we are dessert people here, right? For the best experience, step away from anything you drank in college. Try something special, including American craft beers, wheat beers, Belgian (especially doubles and triples), or Belgian-style beers, brown ales, etc.
Got wine left over après party? Even if it's just a little of this and that, you can make a super flavorful, refreshing granita. And no one is looking, so go ahead and mix it up—combine red and white to make rosé if you like!
A rich, eggy ice cream base is the perfect partner for Guinness. You can also substitute other beers that are rich and malty, or lighter pale ales, pilsners, or lagers instead.
What frozen desserts are you craving this summer? Share with us in the comments below!