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in the kitchen

One of the easiest dinner-party desserts: Buy the components ready-made, or create them at home.

I am not just going to scream for ice cream, I am going to travel miles for it. And when I find what I like, I am drowning it in espresso.

The season is ripe to enjoy a scoop or two of your favourite flavour, which for most of us is almost always the same, I'll bet. That's normal. I've got my favourites, too.

Not so long ago, when my brood was still young and bright-eyed, I actually drove all the way to Cape Cod for an ice-cream cone.

It was a warm Sunday afternoon in early July and we were in the Niagara area, showing off nature's beauty to my nephew from Italy. We had gone across the border to observe the other side of the Falls, and after a day of walking and playing we set off to circumnavigate the Buffalo area and re-enter via Queenston.

Twenty minutes later, we found ourselves at the intersection of Interstate 90/290 with all the signs pointing toward New York and Boston.

As the excitement grew from thinking of the two great cities ahead, my oldest son, Andrew, had the brilliant idea that we should go visit some good friends, the Carlevales, in Cape Cod, and perhaps have a little ice cream in the afternoon.

My wife and I thought it over. We had spare clothing and bathing suits. After checking to make sure it would not be a problem for my work, we pointed the car east and went.

After taking turns driving all night, we arrived in Osterville, Mass., parked the car in the shade by the beach and jumped in the water. Then we visited our friends and had a couple of lobster sandwiches. Finally, we made it to the ice-cream parlour and had our treat. At that point, the owner showed up and our friends introduced us.

After a short chat, I mentioned the flavour I'd come to enjoy. He was appalled by my choice. Chocolate chip cookie dough was not his favourite. He pointed out at the wall full of awards for his fresh fruit sorbets, high-quality chocolates and locally sourced cream and eggs before dismissing me with a shrug.

No offence taken. Ice cream is one of the few connections to childhood an adult has left, and I am not ashamed of it.

These days, one of the best ways for me to end a meal - and one of the easiest desserts you can serve after a dinner party - is with Affogato al Caffè: vanilla ice cream drowned in espresso coffee. It can be made to different grades of sophistication by adding layers of flavour such as chocolate sauce, crunchy brittle, fresh fruit and liqueurs. Don't forget whipped cream for that extra oomph!

This recipe is a more modern version that introduces Chai tea and fresh berries into the mix.



4 ounces chocolate sauce

4 scoops (2 ounces each) vanilla ice cream

16 ounces Chai tea, brewed

4 ounces raspberry coulis

4 teaspoons raspberries

2 tablespoons almond brittle, crushed

4 tablespoons whipped cream


You can purchase all the ingredients pre-made, but here are a few basic recipes for that homemade touch..

Chocolate sauce

5 ounces dark chocolate, best quality possible

2 ounces light corn syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 fluid ounces water

4 ounces granulated sugar

2 tablespoons dark cocoa powder

Cut the chocolate into small pieces and place in a bowl along with the corn syrup and vanilla. Place the water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the stove and slowly whisk in the cocoa powder, then pour over the chocolate and syrup, mixing until all the ingredients have dissolved. Set aside to cool before using.

Raspberry coulis

1½ cups raspberries

4 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

½ teaspoon grated lemon rind

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until well combined. Press mixture through a fine mesh strainer and serve immediately.

Place the chocolate sauce in the bottom of four eight-ounce bowls (glass will show better).

Top the sauce with a scoop of ice cream and pour hot Chai tea over it.

Drizzle with the raspberry coulis and place raspberries on top. Sprinkle the crushed brittle and top with whipped cream.

Serves 4