- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The busier you become, the more you appreciate simple things such as knowing what’s for dinner. Better yet is having dinner at the ready in your refrigerator, just waiting for you to heat and eat.

I don’t mean frozen entrees. I mean leftovers or meals you have planned ahead and made, such as lasagna, that just need a simple baking or reheat when you arrive home.

My mother loved to entertain, and she was known for her creative meals. Our freezer in the basement was filled with frozen parfaits and other desserts that were ready when she was.

These were just simple desserts, layers of cake, ice cream, liqueur and chocolate sauce, or fruit, cake and whipped cream. Often my mother assembled them in pretty glass dishes, and other times she just made simple desserts in a muffin tin.

Here is one such recipe, much like a cheesecake, much like a frozen dessert, and in the summertime it is both refreshing and vibrant to behold. Serve this after one of those great planned-ahead meals including lasagna and a green salad.

Five time-shaving ways to savor fresh raspberries

• Pile into a refrigerated pie crust, top with a little sugar to taste, dot with butter, and bake until the berries begin to lose their juice and the crust has browned 25 to 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

• Puree with raspberry yogurt into a fresh smoothie.

• Puree with sugar to taste and serve over frozen and thawed pound cake slices.

• Top your favorite green salad with raspberries, toasted almonds and crumbled feta. Toss with a sesame vinaigrette.

• Layer in a trifle dish with pound cake slices and whipped cream.

Fresh raspberry cream cakes

The preparation time is 20 minutes, the freezing time is at least 3 hours, and the assembly time is 5 minutes.

12 foil liners for cupcake pans (2½-inch size)

3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup finely chopped pecans

3 tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup fresh raspberries, washed and drained

8 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, at room temperature

1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

1 container (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed

Line 12 cupcake cups with the foil liners and set the pan aside.

Place the graham cracker crumbs, pecans and melted butter in a mixing bowl and stir to combine. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the mixture into each liner, pressing down on the mixture with your fingers to make the crust.

Reserve 12 raspberries for garnish. Place the remaining raspberries in a food processor and pulse the berries until pureed, 10 seconds. Measure out half cup for the filling and set aside.

Place the remaining puree in a sieve over a small glass bowl to catch the raspberry juices. Push down gently on the puree to extract as much juice as possible.

Discard the solids. Cover the raspberry juice with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.

Place the cream cheese in a large mixing bowl. With an electric mixer on low speed, beat the cream cheese until creamy, 30 seconds. Turn off the machine and add the sweetened condensed milk and the reserved half cup pureed raspberries.

With the mixer on medium speed, blend until just combined, 20 to 30 seconds. Stop the mixer, add 1 cup of the whipped topping, and blend on low speed to combine, 15 seconds.

Top the crusts with the raspberry mixture, dividing it evenly among them. The liners should be very full but not overflowing. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place it in the freezer until firm, at least 3 hours.

Remove the pan from the freezer 15 minutes before serving. To serve, peel away the foil liners from the cakes and place the cakes on serving plates.

Dollop with 1 heaping tablespoon of the remaining whipped topping. Drizzle with the reserved raspberry juice and garnish with a reserved raspberry.

Note: Store these desserts ungarnished, covered with plastic wrap, in the freezer for up to 2 weeks. Makes 12 cakes, 2½ inches each.

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