A great meal deserves a sugary finale, but in the summer, baking just doesn’t hold much appeal. Keep your kitchen cool as a cucumber, and your guests satisfied, by making your grill do double duty.
Grilled fruit makes a wonderful and healthy dessert. Sliced pineapple, peaches, nectarines, and even bananas (grilled banana split, anyone?!) can be placed directly on the hot grill. The sugars caramelize, and the slight smoky cooking environment adds an extra layer of flavor. It doesn’t take long; two to three minutes on each side should be enough to soften the fruit and brown the sugars. Eat as is, or top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a truly decadent dessert.
When you’re grilling delicate things like fruit, you need to do two things before putting the fruit on the grate. First, clean the grill thoroughly to make sure the surface is free of burnt bits of leftover food, especially all those bits of grilled meat or fish! Once the grate is clean, wipe the grate with some cooking oil formulated just for use on the grill. These two prep measures will keep fruit from sticking to the grill (which results in a gooey, ant-attracting mess flecked with blackened chunks of the last three nights’ dinners).
The other option is to use your grill to cook your favorite baked goods. You’ll need to make a few adjustments, but it’s really no more work than baking a cake in your oven.
Grills don’t heat as evenly or as reliably as ovens. Monitor the temperature with oven thermometer. If it gets too hot, prop the lid to allow some of the heat to escape. A pizza stone isn’t essential, but if you have one, set your baking dish on top of it to distribute the heat more evenly. You may also want to rotate your pan once or twice during cooking, to ensure that some parts aren’t burning while others stay raw.
Use a disposable foil baking pan; conventional cookware can discolor or warp in such a hot environment. You can also use cast iron, but be forewarned that the cleanup may require HazMat intervention. An aluminum foil cover will keep smoke and meat drippings from tainting your dessert.
Strawberries and rhubarb are in season now. Tonight, dump some in the bottom of a pan, mix up your favorite yellow cake, and serve up some barbecued, upside-down goodness!