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CHEF ILONA DANIEL: Beat the summer heat with gin and tonic popsicles and frozen key lime pie

Chef Ilona Daniel shows off her frozen key lime pie recipe, which is a perfect dessert for a summertime event.
Chef Ilona Daniel shows off her frozen key lime pie recipe, which is a perfect dessert for a summertime event. - SaltWire Network

As we find ourselves heading into the dog days of summer, we are in search of fun ways to stay cool.

For me, this fun usually includes finding interesting ways to prepare food by using a minimum of kitchen heat. Popsicles used to be a fairly consistent piece of our childhood; who can forget the standard trio of popsicles which consisted of grape, orange, and cherry? I think my favourite was orange because I always seemed to drip grape popsicle on my clothes; orange blended in a little better.

As we become “grown-ups,” popsicles don’t seem to be as common of a summer treat anymore; popsicles are a kid thing. I’m not sure where the collective rationale comes from, but I wanted to share a popsicle recipe which are decidedly for the adults. These gin and tonic popsicles are low in alcohol but evoke the juniper and quinine refresher that has long been a popular beverage for the summer.

Another favourite is ice cream cake. It’s always a spectacular party if an ice cream cake makes an appearance. Again, when thinking within the context of the hottest portion of the summer, citrus accents are a logical foil to the often-sweltering afternoon heat.

This ice cream cake takes influence from the popular dessert from the Florida Keys, key lime pie. Key limes are actually a specific type of lime, not necessarily a mere name sake of the land mass. Key limes are very small, almost round, and become more yellow as they ripen on the tree. They have a higher acidity and a strong aroma, which makes them an excellent option for baking because their inherent lime qualities are concentrated and the flavours carries well across the flavour softening qualities of dairy products. If you can source key limes, double the amount of limes of those listed in the recipe.

When planning to serve either of these chilly treats, I recommend preparing them the day before you plan on enjoying them; you want to make sure they both fully set.

Popsicles aren't just for kids anymore. Chef Ilona Daniel shares her gin and tonic popsicles recipe - an adult treat that's low in alcohol but high in flavour. - SaltWire Network
Popsicles aren't just for kids anymore. Chef Ilona Daniel shares her gin and tonic popsicles recipe - an adult treat that's low in alcohol but high in flavour. - SaltWire Network

Gin and Tonic Popsicles

Created by Chef Ilona Daniel

  • 4 oz. Gin
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice (about 1-2 limes)
  • 3 cups tonic water
  • Cucumber slices or berries for garnish (optional)

Mix all of the ingredients together and place into popsicle molds. You can add a flair to your popsicle with cucumber or fresh or frozen berries. Freeze the molds overnight.

Adding citrus to chilled desserts offers a refreshing summertime treat.  - SaltWire Network
Adding citrus to chilled desserts offers a refreshing summertime treat. - SaltWire Network

Frozen Key Lime Pie

Created by Chef Ilona Daniel

For the crust:

  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 4 tbsp salted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

For the ice cream

  • 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp finely grated lime zest, from about 3 limes
  • 6 tbsp fresh lime juice, from about 3 limes
  • 1 pinch salt

Preheat your oven to 350 F.

Use a food processor to turn graham crackers into a crumb. This can also be done by placing the graham crackers into a zip top bag and smashing them all up with a rolling pin.

Mix the graham cracker crumbs, butter, and brown sugar together and pack tightly onto a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Bake the mixture for eight minutes, the edges will turn a beautiful golden brown. Allow to cool fully and break up the cooked crust into chunks.

Place the cream cheese into a bowl of a stand mixer or use a hand mixer to whip cream cheese until smooth and a bit fluffy. Next, add condensed milk and beat until it is incorporated. Then add the heavy cream and mix until incorporated. Finally, mix in the lime juice, zest, and salt.

Into a loaf pan, evenly spread half of the graham cracker crumble over the bottom. Add all of the cream cheese mixture and spread evenly over the graham cracker base. Finally top with remaining graham cracker crumbs. Freeze overnight or for at least eight hours.

lona Daniel is a chef from PEI. She believes cooking with passion is the key to having fun in the kitchen. She welcomes comments from readers by email at chef.ilona.daniel@gmail.com or Twitter.com/chef_ilona.

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