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End the summer with easy and tasty desserts

POSTED: August 29, 2012 1:30 a.m.

Although the first day of fall isn’t until Sept. 22, most folks consider the upcoming Labor Day holiday as the unofficial end of summer.

Before you say so long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye to summer, why not end things on a sweet note?

Cookbook author and former Food Network host Sara Moulton has come up with a guilt-free way to enjoy the last of summer’s berries with her Crisp Blueberry Shortcakes.

"Not only does a berry-centric dessert use up a berry abundance, it also produces a healthier dessert. In most pies and baked treats, the bulk of the fat and calories come from the crust or cake involved. Even when sweetened, the fruity filling tends to be pretty healthy," Moulton said.

"The cake in this case is minimal — just three layers of baked phyllo dough cut into squares. Phyllo is a paper-thin flour dough used to make pastries. It is extremely low in fat and even comes in whole-wheat varieties."

According to Moulton, phyllo can typically be found in the freezer section of most grocery stores, somewhere near the pie crusts.

Since the phyllo dough is so delicate, Moulton recommends cutting it with a pizza wheel instead of a knife.

"It is the best tool for the job," Moulton said. "It won’t pull at and tear the delicate phyllo the way a knife can."

When it comes to enjoying the last moments of summer, no one wants to spend all day in the kitchen — not even in the name of whipping up something tasty for a family barbecue.

Indiana blogger and "food scientist" Ruthanne has a few ideas to help keep you basking in the glow of the sun, not your oven.

"I think the key to low-stress entertaining is food and desserts that can be prepared ahead," said Ruthanne, who is the author of the Easybaked blog.

"If you are setting up outside you will also want desserts that don’t melt into a puddle the instant you set them out.

"I like party desserts that can be picked up and eaten without needing a plate. Things like cupcakes, fancy cookies, mini cheesecakes or cookie cups."

One of the easiest, and most summer-fun ideas she shares on her blog are for Nutter Butter Flip-flops. To create that dish, you simply need a package of Nutter Butter cookies and vanilla candy melts, which can be found at craft stores.

Since the store-bought cookies perfectly mimic the shape of a flip-flop, all you’re doing is dressing them up by dipping them into the melted candy and adding a little piping to create the straps.

"I think the final results taste a little like a Butterfinger," Ruthanne says.

More of her ideas, including a recipe for Cinnamon Cheesecake Sundaes, can be found online at www.easybaked.net.

"I get ideas from so many sources," Ruthanne said.

"Sometimes people ask me to create specific things. Sometimes I’m inspired by desserts I try or see. Other times, an idea just occurs to me out of the blue.

"I keep a list of ideas so that I always have something new to try."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

 


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