Seasonal Dessert Recipes To Sweeten Your Summer Chris Kimball, host of public television's America's Test Kitchen, shares recipes for his favorite summer desserts and the American culinary traditions that inspired them.
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Seasonal Dessert Recipes To Sweeten Your Summer

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Seasonal Dessert Recipes To Sweeten Your Summer

Seasonal Dessert Recipes To Sweeten Your Summer

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This morning, we're going to skip a few meals and jump straight to dessert. It's that time of year when the peaches are ripe and the blackberries thick on the bush - just the thing for a perfect summer dessert.

And who better to turn to than Chris Kimball. He hosts the PBS show, "America's Test Kitchen," and stops by from time to time to share recipes and talk about culinary history.

Good morning, Chris.

Mr. CHRIS KIMBALL (Host, "America's Test Kitchen"): Good morning. How are you?

MONTAGNE: Fine, thank you, and all the better for the - talk about fragrance, this room, our studio here just is - the good smells are just practically overwhelming.

Mr. KIMBALL: Well, the thing that makes a great summer dessert is you take the principle ingredient, usually fruit, and you let it shine. All of these recipes this morning actually come from the past - America's culinary past. So we've gone in, taken the basic notion, and freshened it up.

(Soundbite of music)

MONTAGNE: There is a dish here that sounds like quite a throwback. The name says that: Peach Brown Betty. What years does this hark back to?

Mr. KIMBALL: Well, you start seeing Betties around 1840, 1850. It was layers of fruit, usually apple. And then they layered buttered, slightly sweetened breadcrumbs in three or four layers.

Brown Betty was also a drink. It had water. It had brown sugar. It had ale. It had brandy, and it had two slices of toast.

MONTAGNE: In the - come on.

Mr. KIMBALL: Yeah. No, no...

MONTAGNE: Come on. Where'd they put the toast?

Mr. KIMBALL: They put the toast in the liquid. Don't ask me why.

MONTAGNE: It had to be in a big shaker.

Mr. KIMBALL: I'm sure they did. But - and they put some ginger on the toast to add some flavor. So we did a Peach Brown Betty. And the problem with peaches, of course, is that they're juicy. So what we ended up doing is doing this very differently. We did it in a skillet. We cooked the peaches down for a few minutes, a little bit of butter. And then we mixed in some of the breadcrumbs and then topped it with breadcrumbs and threw it in an oven for about 20 minutes.

It's very simply to do, and I think the peaches, actually, are a lot better than apples, and, of course, peaches are an August fruit.

(Soundbite of music)

MONTAGNE: A month, of course, when the days are long and hot, and making your own ice cream sounds good, but it's an awful lot of work. You need milk, cream and eggs, some beating, some cooking, some cooling and, of course, a big, bulky ice cream machine. Chris has a recipe that takes the sweat out of the process: Magic Vanilla Ice Cream.

What's magical about it?

Mr. KIMBALL: Well, okay. Here's the - this is why people go...

MONTAGNE: I'm tasting it see if that's the magic. I'm sure it is, but...

Mr. KIMBALL: Well, there's more to it than that. This is a dessert that takes three minutes to put together, and there's no ice cream machine.

We figured out two things: Sweetened, condensed milk is one of the things that doesn't crystallize when you freeze it. Also, white chocolate morsels will help set up an ice cream. Chocolate, when it gets cold, gets hard, so it is a thickening agent.

So we used some whipped cream to aerate. We used a little sour cream for flavor. All of that that gets heated in the microwave, just the chips and the milk. You put everything together. You throw it in the freezer for six hours. It comes out, and the secret is it comes out creamy.

MONTAGNE: It looks creamy, Chris. I'm going to just...

Mr. KIMBALL: Well, you have to taste...

MONTAGNE: Tastes creamy - and I'll give you my judgment.

Mr. KIMBALL: Your honest opinion, I'm sure you will.

MONTAGNE: Yup, creamy.

Mr. KIMBALL: This is like President Reagan, right? You know, trust and verify, right. There we are.

(Soundbite of music)

MONTAGNE: And our next dessert is as fun to say as it is to eat: Blackberry Roly Poly.

Mr. KIMBALL: This goes back hundreds of years where the British, of course, to make puddings, they would take a pastry - a dough - roll it out thin into a rectangle, put some jam or fruit preserves on it, roll it up, put it in cotton, tie the ends, and they would steam it or boil it.

The other name for this recipe is Dead Man's Arm. And I can assure you, when you take it out...


Mr. KIMBALL: ...I know, ew, but, you know, you know what it looks like? It looks like a dead man's arm. So that notion of steamed puddings that way, we did not like. So we came up with a biscuit dough. We added a little bit more fat to it, a little sugar. And we rolled it out, and we added - we made our own jam in about 10 minutes, with some fresh blackberries and sugar. We put that on the dough, rolled it up, and we baked it for about 40 minutes. And it's fabulous.

It's sort of like, you know, in the morning with a fresh hot biscuit with blackberry jam in it. That's what it is.

MONTAGNE: There is one dessert that you brought to us that looks like it might be actually savory. It's a pie, and I can see tomatoes peeping up through the design in the pie. What is that?

Mr. KIMBALL: Well, don't forget, pies in the 19th century were ubiquitous. I mean, you put anything in a pie. You'd put chicken - you know, chicken pot pie. You'd have steak-and-kidney pudding, which would be in a pie, apples, fruit.

MONTAGNE: But those were main dishes.

Mr. KIMBALL: They were. Well...

MONTAGNE: You're presenting this as a dessert?

Mr. KIMBALL: Well, no. This is really savory. This is the one savory item which is very summery, because it's tomatoes. It was layers of sliced beefsteak tomatoes, a separate layer which had a little mayonnaise and a little bit of cheese. And so we had layers of that. It's a little bit like a tomato sandwich, except it's a pie. And it's just really good, and it's great in August.

I mean, you know, pie for breakfast...

MONTAGNE: This would be a perfect breakfast.

Mr. KIMBALL: Yeah, that's why - yeah. It's very much like an American quiche -which I think is actually a little bit better than quiche, but I'm American.

(Soundbite of music)

MONTAGNE: This has been a pleasure, as always.

Mr. KIMBALL: Thank you. Anytime I can come and make you breakfast (unintelligible).

(Soundbite of music)

MONTAGNE: Chris Kimball's latest cookbook is "Cooks Country Blue Ribbon Dessert." You can find all the recipes, plus Chris's favorite, Summer Berry Pudding, at

GREENE: And Renee, it all sounds delicious. I know you and Chris Kimball were talking right there about the Brown Betty dessert inspired by a cocktail, but they took out the alcohol. If you want a kick, there is a new cookbook out there that seems to draw on a similar spirit, here. The book is "Intoxicated Cupcakes." Author and pastry chef Kate Legere has concocted these tipsy treats with names to match: Hot Toddy Cupcakes, Champagne Party Cupcakes and a Dark and Stormy. And that has rum in both the cake and the frosting - so two drinks in one right there, in the baking cup.

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