Time for dessert? Fire up that grill.

Los Angeles Times - - FOOD & DINING - By Noelle Carter noelle.carter@latimes.com Twit­ter: @noel­le­carter

The last place you want to be on a per­fect sum­mer day is in a hot kitchen, es­pe­cially if you’re en­ter­tain­ing. Which is why the grill gets so much love this time of year.

We grill burgers. We grill steaks. We grill chicken, fish, ribs and even veg­eta­bles. ( We have to please the veg­e­tar­ian friends and note: a lit­tle color ac­tu­ally ac­cen­tu­ates your meat on the plate.) Maybe we’ve even gone so far as to grill some salad — be­cause grilled ro­maine is a thing, and it’s very, very good. Some­how, pri­mal fire can im­prove ev­ery­thing, even our cook­ing skills. But what about dessert?

Honey, do us all a fa­vor and throw those pound­cake slices on the grill al­ready.

Grilled desserts go way be­yond the s’mores of your child­hood, though those still rock and can serve as in­spi­ra­tion. You can grill al­most any­thing, and cake is a great place to start. Take a firm cake — pound­cake, an­gel food — give the slices a quick baptism in spray oil and throw them on the rack. They’ll pick up nice grill marks in a minute or two, and you’ll cer­tainly en­ter­tain the guests. The real treat is when you bite into the dessert. The flames toast the sug­ars at the edges of the cake, carameliz­ing them in the most se­duc­tive of ways.

Serve the cake topped with a scoop of ice cream and grilled peaches — yes, you can grill fruit too. ( No­tice a pat­tern here?) A few min­utes over the fire gives a caramelized nut­ti­ness to the fruit, and there’s al­most no work in­volved. Driz­zle some whiskey caramel sauce — go ahead, gild the lily.

Then plan a din­ner with grilled po­lenta as dessert. Sure, you may be more fa­mil­iar with warm po­lenta, served light and fluffy. But let it set up like spackle in a bak­ing dish, then cut it into wedges. You can do this a day or two in ad­vance so you have no prep to worry about when it’s time to im­press. Grill the wedges — again, a minute or two — then serve them topped with a spoon­ful of mas­car­pone cheese, a hand­ful of fresh blue­ber­ries and a driz­zle of dark maple syrup. Your guests will find it rev­e­la­tory. You don’t need to tell them it came to­gether in min­utes.

Have that one picky eater in the group? The one who mea­sures self- worth by the calo­rie? You’ve got this. Grill some wa­ter­melon. Se­ri­ously.

If you’ve never tried grilled wa­ter­melon, it’s pretty amaz­ing. Cut thick wedges from a wa­ter­melon ( seed­less — this isn’t meant to be sadis­tic), brush them with a lit­tle olive oil and grill the wedges un­til lightly toasted with de­fined grill marks on each side. Some­how the grilling en­hances the f la­vors, con­cen­trat­ing them while mut­ing the sweet­ness and adding a lit­tle smok­i­ness. Top the whole thing with a dol­lop of Greek yogurt, fresh lime juice, mint and a driz­zle of honey. You’re welcome.

Pho­tog r aphs by Kirk McKoy Los An­ge­les Times

YOGURT, lime, mint and honey

top grilled wa­ter­melon.

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