Even for major holidays, I've never been much into spending a lot of time on dessert.
The Fourth of July is no different. Especially since most desserts take me away from the grill and back into a steamy kitchen. So this year I decided to come up with a fast and easy dessert that is festive, delicious and made on the grill.
The trick is using purchased angel food cake. I tart it up by brushing it with melted butter spiked with cinnamon, cardamom, sugar and lemon juice. A few seconds on the grill and my slices of cake get wonderfully caramelized -- the perfect host for cool sliced strawberries and whipped cream.
If strawberries aren't your thing, any fresh fruit would be delicious, including mango, kiwis, blueberries and raspberries. Or go crazy and just top the cake with fruit salad. While you're at it, to up the delicious contrasts, top the warm slices of cake with vanilla ice cream.
SPICED AND GRILLED ANGEL FOOD CAKE
Start to finish: 20 minutes
1 quart strawberries, hulled and sliced
6 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 cup heavy cream
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
13-ounce angel food cake, cut into 8 slices
In a medium bowl, combine the strawberries and 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Gently mix, then set aside.
In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Sprinkle in 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the lemon zest (reserve the lemon juice), then continue beating until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Heat the grill to medium-high.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter, lemon juice, cinnamon, cardamom and the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Heat, stirring, until the butter is melted and the sugar has dissolved. Use a pastry brush to coat all sides of the cake slices with the butter mixture.
Place the cake slices on the grill and cook for 30 seconds per side, or until grill marks appear and the cakes are nicely toasted. Serve each slice topped with whipped cream and berries.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 320 calories; 160 calories from fat (50 percent of total calories); 17 g fat (11 g saturated; 0.5 g trans fats); 55 mg cholesterol; 41 g carbohydrate; 4 g protein; 2 g fiber; 360 mg sodium.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Food Editor J.M. Hirsch is author of the cookbook "High Flavor, Low Labor: Reinventing Weeknight Cooking." Follow him to great eats on Twitter at http://twitter.com/JM_Hirsch or email him at jhirsch(at)ap.org.