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Teresa Hatchell 2005

The 90-plus-degree days we’ve been having lately inspired me to write about some really "cool" desserts. Then, this weekend, I received a few inquiries about cool desserts from readers who were having family get-togethers or groups functions and wanted a really good ingredient to take the sizzle out of this extreme August heat. What could cool things off better than "ice cream"?! I keep ice cream in my freezer at all times because my family loves it. They make Sundaes, top pound cake with it, or just eat it in a cone or bowl.

Wherever you go out to eat – be it a fast food place, a buffet-type restaurant or an elegant, reservations-only restaurant, almost every eatery offers ice cream for dessert. It’s safe to say that, all-in-all, ice cream is as part of Americana as baseball and apple pie. When company is coming, or you want to treat your family to a bit fancier dessert, the following recipes from my "recipe file" take ice cream a few steps further. Try them if you don’t mind the extra work that they require.

Ice cream pie standard crust

1-1/4 cups Oreo sandwich cookies, finely crushed

4 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Combine the cookie crumbs and butter, stirring well. Press the crumb mixture firmly over the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan. Bake the crust at 350 degrees for 6 minutes. Set it aside to completely cool.

Tasty toffee ice cream pie

Caramel Sauce (recipe below)

1 quart chocolate ice cream, softened

1 quart vanilla ice cream, softened

5 (1.4-ounce) English toffee-flavored candy bars, crushed Chocolate Sauce (recipe below)

1 quart coffee ice cream, softened

Prepare the standard crust. When it has completely cooled, spoon 1/2 cup Caramel Sauce over crust, leaving a 1-inch border. Freeze it until set. Spread the chocolate ice cream over Caramel Sauce. Freeze until it is firm. In a medium bowl, combine the vanilla ice cream and crushed candy bars. Spread this mixture over the chocolate ice cream. Freeze it until firm. Spread 1 cup of Chocolate Sauce over the vanilla ice cream. Freeze it until set. Spread the coffee ice cream over the Chocolate Sauce. Cover the pie tightly with Saran Wrap and freeze it for at least 8 hours. Remove the dessert from the freezer about 10 minutes before you plan to serve it. Remove sides of the springform pan and slice the dessert into wedges. This recipe yields 12 to 14 servings.

Caramel sauce

1/3 cup butter or margarine

2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup half-and-half, divided

2 teaspoons cornstarch

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a heavy saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, salt and 3/4 cup half-and-half. Cook this mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves. DO NOT BOIL. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and remaining half-and-half. Gradually stir this into the brown sugar mixture. Cook this mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. Stir in the vanilla extract. This recipe yields about 2 cups of sauce.

Vanilla-chocolate ice cream pie

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1 quart vanilla ice cream, softened

Chocolate sauce (recipe below)

8-ounce container Cool Whip, thawed

2 tablespoons chopped pecans, lightly toasted

Prepare the standard crust. When it has completely cooled, spoon the ice cream evenly over crust; cover the pie with waxed paper and freeze it. Remove it from the freezer, remove the waxed paper, and spoon some chocolate sauce over the ice cream. Freeze the pie until it is firm. Spread the whipped topping on top of the pie. Sprinkle it with toasted pecans (optional). Remove sides of the spring form pan and slice the dessert into wedges. This recipe yields 12 to 14 servings.

Chocolate sauce

1/2 cup sugar

3 tablespoons cocoa

2/3 cup evaporated milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar, cocoa and evaporated milk. Cook this mixture over medium heat until it is boiling, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low, and cook it until it has thickened (about 5 minutes), stirring occasionally. Stir in the vanilla and butter. Let it cool completely. This recipe yields 2/3 cup sauce.

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