Grilled Desserts: Going Beyond S’mores

Grilled dessertsIt’s the end of the meal, the coals are settling, and the fire’s dying down.  It must be time for dessert!  Sure, you could break out the marshmallows and graham crackers and chocolate bars—no one would mind—but why not expand your repertoire?  Why not serve up something that’s a little unexpected?  Something that’s simple but sophisticated?  Something like one of these grilled fruit desserts that exploit fruit’s natural sweetness in a whole new way.

Grilled fruit recipes are cooked over mellow, medium heat, which means that just about the time you’re taking that last bite of burger or barbecued chicken, the grill’s ready to go.

Grilled Bananas Ice Cream Sundae

This is one of those recipes they teach you in Girl Scouts because it’s easy, it tastes really good and you can cook it directly in a campfire if you don’t happen to have a Bayou Classic Cypress Ceramic Grill on hand.  (And if you do, you’re in luck, because they come with a thermometer so you won’t have to guess the heat level by putting your hand close to the coals to see if they’ll burn you.)

Ice cream

1 banana per person

Semisweet chocolate chips

Miniature marshmallows (don’t use colored ones, or the end result will look … unpleasant)

Chopped pecans (or whatever nuts you fancy)

Wrap one peeled banana and as many chocolate chips, marshmallows and nuts as you can stuff into one square of aluminum foil and wrap tightly.

Tuck the foil-wrapped package into the coals and roast until the ingredients combine into a heavenly mixture of chocolate, marshmallows, nuts and banana-ness.  (You’ll be able to tell when it’s ready because the foil casing will be squishy.)

It will also be incredibly messy, so be careful when you open the foil packets of gooey, banana-y lusciousness.

Just so you know, you don’t have to eat this topping over bananas.  If you want to, you can just grab a spoon and dive in.

Grilled Fruit Kebabs

Skewers for as many kebabs as you want

Fruit for as many kebabs as you want.  You can use all one fruit, like pineapple chunks, or you can mix it up with pieces of ripe stone fruit (peaches, nectarines, plums), or even firm green bananas.  (Don’t use ripe ones, they’ll get gloppy and fall into the fire.)

If you really want to serve something spectacular, add some sliced starfruit (carambola) to the mix.

Soak the skewers so they won’t burn on the grill (put them in water before you start the meal)

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

2 Tbsp. light brown sugar

2 Tbsp. lime juice (preferably fresh)

2 tsp. ginger

For a slightly more exotic taste, substitute curry powder for the ginger.  To dial down the heat, use cinnamon instead of ginger.

Thread the fruit onto the skewers and brush them with the “marinade.”

Grill for 7-10 minutes until the fruit is heated through and everything is starting to get that caramelized glaze.

Grilled Pineapple Rightside Up cake

This recipe is so simple it’s like cheating.

1 pound cake, store-bought or homemade

1 large can pineapple slices (can also use fresh)

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

3 Tbsp. light brown sugar

1 Tbsp. dark rum or 1 tsp. rum flavoring

1 Tbsp. lemon juice (preferably fresh)

Combine the liquid ingredients in a bowl large enough to add the pineapple slices. Let the pineapple marinate while you cook the rest of your dinner.

When the fire has died down to medium, brush a bit of cooking oil over the grill and then lay the pineapple slices down.  Turn as the grill marks appear but let the fruit get a little dark, which will only deepen the flavor.

Serve over slices of pound cake.  Garnish with slightly sweetened whipped cream and (why not?) a maraschino cherry.


Katherine Tomlinson is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in Seared, Gourmet Food Garden, and  She is co-author of the upcoming cookbook/memoir Tall Order with Chef Jeff Goldfarb.

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