Good Humor, Unsweetened

by Melanie Chartoff
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goodhumortruck.jpgIt was a Pavlovian response.  Not just the salivating and the excitement, but the begging my mother for coins, the heart- pounding fear I’d miss it, then the shrieking, running out to the street to see the white truck with the painting of the ice cream bar on the side cruising slowly down the hill.

Fat chance I’d miss the Good Humor man—he had a vested interest in not being missed.  He thoroughly enjoyed selling his wares and making kids happy in our stultifyingly hot, humid summer suburbs.  But the happy memory of that children’s song’s tinkle can still make me drool, (much like a fountain’s trickle can still make me tinkle).

aa.creamsicle.jpgI loved the chocolate covered vanilla ice cream on a stick.  Who didn’t!   Cracking off the chocolate, melting it in your mouth. Then making things out of the sticks—rafts, cabins, tongue depressors for playing doctor.  And I was further privileged.  My grandfather often let me sell the orange ice covered vanilla Creamsicles on a stick out of his deli freezer to the local New Haven kids.  Standing on a stool, flipping up the silver lid, I’d reach into the steaming ice box for the paper covered treats and bestow them, noblesse oblige, on other children who’d take them politely.  At their parents’ prompting, they’d say the obligatory “thank you,” regarding me with a sort of awe—this gave me, standing above them on the stool, my first sense of the power of providing at the age of eight.

I feel that same sense of power now when I make my own version of summer ice cream for my yard parties and bestow it on a captive audience. So many are avoiding sugar, dairy, fat, as am I, that I’ve created a bunch of flavorful sherbets, so easy to make, but so delicious, they put my friends in Pavlovian Good Humors instantly.

Banana Blueberry Sherbet
I puree two ripened bananas in the blender for thirty seconds (these sherbets are all blender dependent), then add handfuls of blueberries and pulse once or twice. I pour the purple studded puree into a few dainty Italian ice cups, and freeze for three hours. Let it thaw a minute before serving. It's sweet and creamy and delectable for four. Serve it with biscotti--a perfect finale for a cookout.

Halavah Sherbet
My original take on one of the world's oldest confections: I blend a cup of sesame tahina, including a bit of its oil, with the juice of two oranges and a half teaspoon of vanilla. I pour it into sherbet cups and freeze it for a few hours. To the taste and for mouth feel, it resembles the honeyed granularity of the one sweet thing Jews and Arabs have in common.

Banana Almond Sherbet
Puree a ripened banana with a quarter cup of vanilla rice milk, add two tablespoons of crunchy almond butter, puree for another thirty seconds, and freeze in the paper cups. It's a bit more caloric, but hard to believe it's not steeped in sugar. Banana manna from heaven.

Banana Black Cherry
Black Cherry is in season briefly end of July and early August. Blending a ripened banana with a few halved and pulsed black cherries, with a dollop of creamy cashew butter, is like chocolate to easy to please, sugarfreed tastebuds.

Mango Banana Sherbet
Puree the innards of a mango (press it into pulp within its skin before squeezing it out the tip of the fruit into the blender bowl) with a ripe banana. Pour into the paper cups—lean a popsicle stick in their centers. When serving, peel off the paper cup and present upside down.

So, happy Ice Cream Month, but for those who can't eat ice cream, try your own variations of the above with fresh fruits in season. Play guessing games with guests and see if they can break down the rich tastes into their simple and healthy constituents.

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