Desserts cooked on the barbecue are one of the hottest trends because people want to be able to get out of the kitchen and prepare entire meals on the grill, says one of Canada’s eminent chefs on the subject.
“When you cook the entire meal from appetizers to desserts you only have to dirty one kitchen and that’s the one outside and you don’t have to leave the grill,” says Ted Reader, whose most recent cookbook is “Napoleon’s Everyday Gourmet Plank Grilling” (Key Porter Books).
He revels in pushing the boundaries using Twinkies and Oreo cookies as ingredients in his whimsical desserts as well as fresh fruits of the season which he spikes with rum and other flavourings.
“Peaches are wonderful things to grill,” he says. “With a nice firm flesh they make a superb dessert.”
Sometimes Reader drizzles them with raspberries and vanilla ice cream to make “a great grilled peach melba.”
Another of his favourite fruits is pineapple.
“You simply peel it, slice it into 1-inch (2.5-cm) rounds, marinate it in some rum and brown sugar and grill it,” he explains. “What happens when you grill fruit is the natural sugars in the fruit start to come out. This sweetens the fruit and the juices caramelize and it creates its own little crust on the fruit.”
Reader cautions that melons are among the fruits that don’t work well on the grill because there is too much liquid in them so they break down. “It’s the same with mango and papaya, they fall apart.”
He says that while plump strawberries can work well on the grill he doesn’t recommend most berries.
“When the berries are too small and delicate they can burst and you lose the juices into the grill, and it’s a waste of good fruit.”
Now at the height of their season, apricots, plums and soon pears “really grill well.”
Reader likes to use bananas in a variety of desserts because they hold up well over heat.
“I like to wrap my bananas in bacon and grill them. I take some low sodium bacon and render off as much of the fat (as possible) then wrap them around with bacon and grill.”
He also makes banana boats for the barbecue.
“Peel part of the banana and slice it inside its peel, then bend it so it opens up,” he says. “Fill it with cookie crumbs, chocolate chips or butterscotch syrup, wrap in foil and bake.”
Reader, who does barbecue demonstrations at summer festivals, fairs and other events, says one of the crowd favourites is his chocolate brownies.
“When I do demos we bake trays and trays of brownies,” he says. “We put the whole slab on the plank, place it on the grill and layer it with peanut butter, jam, marshmallows and chocolate chips and cook until it gets all warm and gooey.”
If he has leftover fruit kabobs, he chops them up the next day for a salsa “that you can put on the chicken you just grilled.”
And as a parting shot on general barbecuing, Reader has this advice for avid grillers.
“High heat, lid open; low heat, lid closed, and don’t squish the food because every time you do, you lose the juices.”
• 1 regular cedar plank, soaked in water
• 8 Twinkies
• 175 ml (3/4 ml) chocolate hazelnut spread (Nutella)
• 6 Oreo cookies, smashed into chunks
• 125 ml (1/2 cup) mini marshmallows
• 50 ml (1/4 cup) chocolate toffee pieces
Preheat grill to medium-low heat. Arrange Twinkies on plank. Slather top of Twinkies evenly with Nutella. Sprinkle with mini Oreo chunks, marshmallows and chocolate toffee pieces.
Place plank on grill and close lid. Allow Twinkies to heat and smoke slowly for 15 minutes until marshmallows are golden brown and everything is heated through. Remove from grill and serve immediately.
– Judy Creighton welcomes letters at 9 Kinnell St., Hamilton, Ont. L8R 2J8, but cannot promise to answer all correspondence personally. She can also be reached by email at email@example.com