Always looking for creative summer desserts, I once tuned in to see a television chef put together an impromptu dinner party with foods she had in her pantry. Dessert, too, was easily arranged from her freezer. She took a few different flavors of gelato and poured hot espresso over the top along with some whipped cream and a few espresso beans to garnish. Officially, it was an Italian Affagato. I have used vanilla ice cream and regular coffee topped with whipped cream and chocolate chips for an equally decadent dessert. Our judges wanted to find a coffee-flavored ice cream they could serve as the base and add only cold or crunchy toppings to when it's really hot outside. We tasted nine brands of coffee ice creams and found a couple that won't need much doctoring at all.
Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent