We celebrate its arrival this Memorial Day weekend, when the grills of America are lit with unbridled glee. From sea to shining sea, grillmasters and barbecue aficionados will offer up the standard fare: hot dogs, hamburgers, ribs, maybe Texas-style brisket if they’re feeling adventurous.
But for the maestro who wants to knock the socks off of family and friends, there’s a mind-boggling dessert that will confound, amaze, and impress them—and make their taste buds sing. It’s as American as apple pie—and often served with it, as a matter of fact. But here it gets the live-fire treatment. I’m talking about grilled ice cream.
Yes, ice cream. But isn’t that an inherent contradiction? you ask. Isn’t putting a frozen dessert over hot coals a bit like mixing oil and water? Perhaps, but in the ambitious, able hands of America’s master griller, Steven Raichlen, grilled ice cream becomes not only doable, but delectable, too! Read on for the how-to.
Grilled Ice Cream
from Planet Barbecue! by Steven Raichlen
Where: Azerbaijan (the easternmost of the Caucasus Mountain republics, bordered by Armenia, Russia, Iran, and the Caspian Sea)
What: Coconut-crusted ice cream balls grilled shish kebab-style over blistering hot charcoal
How: Direct grilling on a grateless grill
Just the facts: Because of the delicate nature of the ice cream and coconut coating, you’ll need to grill these kebabs on a grateless grill; suspend the skewer between two bricks positioned at opposite sides of the grill. You can use any flavor of ice cream for this recipe—Chef Mehman favors vanilla. Stateside, I’m partial to Häagen-Dazs’ crème brûlée; its burnt-sugar flavor reinforces the taste of the flame-charred coconut.
The strangest thing I’ve ever grilled? It’s a question I’m asked often. So is Azerbaijan’s most famous grill master and TV chef, Mehman Huseynov, and the hyperkinetic chef has a ready answer: ice cream. Yes, ice cream. Skewered on a slender ribbon of steel, crusted with beaten egg and shredded coconut, and seared over the fire. The secret to grilling ice cream is to dip the frozen balls in egg and coconut several times before grilling. The hot fire cooks these ingredients into a hermetic crust, which seals in the melting ice cream. It’s essential to work quickly and over a very hot fire to sear the exterior before the ice cream has a chance to melt.
Makes 8 to 12 balls; serves 4
1½ pints of your favorite ice cream
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups grated or shredded dried coconut in a shallow bowl
You’ll also need
Flat metal skewers, at least 12 inches long
4 to 6 hours for refreezing the ice cream
1. Using a large ice cream scoop, scoop the ice cream into 2-inch balls. Place them in a baking dish and return them to the freezer to freeze the balls solid, 1 to 2 hours.
2. Place the eggs and vanilla in a shallow bowl and beat with a fork. Dip each ice cream ball in beaten egg, turning it with forks to coat it all over, then in the coconut, turning it with forks to coat it on all sides. Return each ball to the egg to coat it again, then coat it in the coconut again. Return the balls to the baking dish and freeze them again until solid.
3. When the coconut-covered ice cream balls are frozen solid, skewer them on flat metal skewers and freeze them again.
4. Set up the grill for grateless grilling, following the instructions below and preheat the grill to as hot as it will go. Arrange 2 bricks on the grate at opposite sides of the grill.
5. Place the kebabs on the grill, resting the ends of the skewers on the bricks. Grill the ice cream balls until the coconut is browned on all sides, 1 to 2 minutes per side, 4 minutes in all. Work quickly; the idea is to sear the coconut without melting the ice cream. Slide the ice cream balls off the skewers into bowls or onto plates and serve at once.
Note: Grateless grilling
In many parts of the world, from Turkey to Japan to India, grills do not have grates and the food is cooked suspended directly over the fire. The method is particularly good for grilling skewered ground meat kebabs, tofu, and glazed foods that would otherwise stick to the grate. The easiest way to do grateless grilling on an American-style grill, either charcoal or gas, is to place two flat bricks, paving stones, or pieces of metal pipe on the grate, one at the front and one at the back. Position them just far enough apart so that the ends of the skewers will rest comfortably on them as supports. The food will be suspended over the grate and will be fully exposed to the heat.
For more sizzling recipes, check out Planet Barbecue!