I grew up with an old-school grilling experience. Back then grilling out had three characteristics:
- Grilling was done by Dad (or my brother, in a pinch; no girls allowed),
- Food (meat only) was cooked over a big, kettle-shaped grill heated by charcoal briquettes doused with lighter fluid that always lent a slight petroleum flavor to the finished product; and
- Cooking technique consisted of, in my Dad's words, "When it's brown, it's cookin'. When it's black, it's done." Yum?
Since reaching adulthood, grilling hasn't figured much in my day-to-day cuisine. In part this is because firing up a grill to cook one burger – I'm single – seems like a lot of fuss. I've discovered there are options for smaller-scale dining: mini kettles, portable gas grills and even compact electric grills you can use indoors (outdoor eating season is short in Minnesota).
Though my own experience with grilling has always been confined to meats of various kinds, I have been vaguely aware that some people grill other things – notably vegetables like corn on the cob, potatoes and something called "cauliflower steaks." Hm. I have not been tempted to experiment with these alternatives. However, not long ago I was alerted to something entirely unexpected (to me, at least) in the grilling world. Grilled desserts.
This is an idea I can get behind. I was especially jazzed to discover that pound cake is an ideal medium for grill artistry … er .. dessertistry. It makes sense: the same dense richness that makes Absolutely Almond Pound Cake Mix™ work well for molded cakes also gives it the heft to hold together on the grill. (That said, my experimentation suggests that pound cake grills best in fairly thick slabs or chunks; there's nothing sadder than seeing a succulent slice of sweet, grilled cake crumble through the grill grate.)
Feeling daring, I recently decided to try grilled pound cake three ways: grilled slices, pound cake and fruit kabobs and – wait for it – a pound cake s'more.
Of these, the simple grilled slice was the clear winner. Nicely toasted, drizzled with Creamy Caramel Sauce or chocolate syrup and partnered with a grilled pineapple slide and a scoop of vanilla ice cream, it is simple and simply delectable.
My kabobs were a little less successful. I threaded chunks of Absolutely Almond Pound Cake, banana, pineapple and strawberries on a metal skewer and placed on the grill. Much like the universal tragedy of watching a marshmallow slip off a stick into the campfire coals below, trying to keep a pound cake square intact on a skewer proved a little challenging. This technique might work better by placing the skewers on a sheet of aluminum foil on the grill.
And finally … Pound Cake S'Mores. I thought this was a fabulous idea. I sandwiched slices of pound cake between a layer of marshmallows and pieces of chocolate bar and laid it on the grill. Alas! The melting marshmallows apparently added sufficient moistness to the cake to cause it to fall apart when I tried to flip it over with a spatula. My stroke of genius became a smoldering splat on the coals. Sad times.
I tried again, avoiding the crumble issue by wrapping the whole thing in aluminum foil. It turned out delicious, but I still had to eat it with a spoon. (Since a utensil was required anyway, I went ahead and drizzled the whole thing in Creamy Caramel Sauce. If you're going to sin … sin BIG.)
Ah, well. Even Thomas Edison had a few failures, right?