Decadent Desserts

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An active summer lifestyle gives one an excuse for eating dessert every once in a while.

A bowl of fresh berries is my usual “go-to” dessert, but I also like to keep a loaf or two of pound cake in the freezer or ramekins of panna cotta in the refrigerator for more festive occasions.

This Summer Panna Cotta is especially tasty. And it’s lighter because buttermilk replaces the yogurt.

For the Summer Version Of An Old-Fashioned Pound Cake, the addition of fresh key lime zest and juice gives it a bright, fresh taste. Add berry sauce with whipped cream or ice cream to complete the dessert.

Bon appétit!

Summer Panna Cotta(Serves 6 to 8)1½ teaspoons unflavored gelatin

1/4 cup milk, for softening

1¼ cups heavy cream

1/3 cup sugar

Pinch of sea salt, to taste

1 vanilla bean, split in half

1¼ cups buttermilk

1 cup sour cream or crème fraîche To prepare:Lightly oil the sides and bottoms of 8 ramekins with safflower oil.

Sprinkle gelatin over the milk and gently stir.

Set the container in a pan of hot water, stirring every now and then until dissolved. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a heavy saucepan over moderate heat, bring heavy cream, sugar and salt to barely a simmer, stirring until sugar is dissolved.

Add vanilla bean and gelatin and blend.

Remove from the heat and let cool at least 15 to 20 minutes.

Stir buttermilk and sour cream, or crème fraîche, into the lukewarm cream.

Taste and adjust the flavoring.
Remove vanilla bean and rinse and reserve for another time.

Pour into prepared dishes.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least overnight, or up to 4 days.

Before serving, run a hot knife around the edge of the container and invert onto dessert plates or a platter.

Unmolding can be done early in the day, covered with plastic wrap, and refrigerated until serving time.

Serve with fruit or chocolate sauce.Summer Version Of Old-Fashioned Pound Cake(Makes three 8-by-4-inch loaf cakes)2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature

3 cups white sugar

6 eggs

2 to 3 pinches of sea salt

4 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

Grated zest of 3 key limes

1/3 cup fresh key lime juice, with about 2½ teaspoons sugar added for taste

Optional: 1/3 cup Meyers rum, for drizzlingTo prepare:Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and line the loaf pans with parchment paper.

In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter until creamy.

Slowly add sugar until it becomes light and fluffy.

Add eggs, one by one, beating well after each addition.

Mix in salt.

Add flour alternately with the cream, starting and ending with flour, mixing until well blended.

Stir in vanilla and zest.

Spoon equal amounts of the batter into prepared pans, smooth the top and bake.

Evenly space the pans in oven and rotate them after 30 minutes.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the edges are golden brown, about 70 minutes.

Note: a crack in the center is characteristic.

Run a knife around the edges and set the pans on a cooling rack for 10 minutes.

Tip the cakes out onto the rack and remove the paper.

Drizzle rum or lime juice over warm cake and cool completely.

To store, wrap cool cakes in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.

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