Now that frost is on the pumpkin, the fall entertaining season is in full swing. With summer vacations and summer fruits only a memory, the emphasis is on foods that are associated with this time of year.
Good cooks like to take advantage of the bountiful assortment of fall foods at roadside stands and supermarkets. Many of these can be transformed into wonderful make-ahead desserts.
Today's hostesses want to be with their guests instead of spending all of the party time in the kitchen. They like to make desserts before guests arrive so they can concentrate on preparation of main dishes.
Ice cream and other frozen desserts are often overlooked when the weather is nippy because they are associated with the summer. Actually, many of these contain flavors that fit into fall menus. Best of all, they are made ahead of time and require no last-minute preparation.
It's hard to resist Frozen Eggnog-Pumpkin Pie, which provides the same flavors as traditional pumpkin pie but is much easier to make. Instead of regular pastry, the crust is made of gingersnaps. There's no baking. The filling contains pumpkin and spices, plus either eggnog or vanilla ice cream.
Mincemeat Mousse and Chocolate-Mint Truffle Mold are elegant desserts that should be made at least several hours before serving time. Freeze, then unmold on a fancy cake plate for the grand finale of a special dinner.
For maximum flavor and texture, cover frozen pies, cakes, molds, or ice cream with tightfitting lids, foil, or plastic wrap. To store individual servings such as Frozen Melba Cups in a minimum amount of freezer space, freeze them in muffin pans; then remove them from the pan and store them in tightly sealed freezer bags until needed.
Here's a variety of make-ahead frozen desserts from ''Ice Cream'' by Mable Hoffman (Tucson, Ariz.: H. P. Books, $5.95). Frozen Eggnog-Pumpkin Pie 20 gingersnaps, crushed (11/2 cups) 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted 1 pint eggnog or vanilla ice cream, softened 1 cup cooked pumpkin 3/4 cup sugar 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1 cup whipping cream Whipped cream, optional
In small bowl, combine gingersnaps and butter or margarine. Press over bottom and up side of 9-inch pie pan. Refrigerate at least 15 minutes. Spoon ice cream evenly over chilled crust. Smooth surface with back of spoon. Cover with foil or plastic wrap. Place in freezer; freeze about 3 hours or until firm.
In medium bowl, combine pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg; set aside. In small bowl, whip 1 cup whipping cream until soft peaks form. Fold into pumpkin mixture. Spread evenly over ice cream. Return to freezer; freeze about 4 hours or until firm. Garnish with additional whipped cream, if desired. Makes 6 servings. Gingerbread Roll 4 eggs 1/2 cup sugar 3/4 cup all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger 1/2 cup molasses Powdered sugar 1 quart orange sherbet or frozen orange yogurt, slightly softened
Grease bottom and sides of a 151/2 by 101/2-inch baking sheet with raised sides. Line bottom with waxed paper. Grease paper; set aside. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. (190 degrees C.).
In large bowl, beat eggs until thick and lemon colored. Gradually beat in sugar until thick and smooth. Stir in flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and ginger. Stir in molasses; beat until smooth. Pour into prepared baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven 12 to 15 minutes or until cake shrinks from sides of pan.
Lay a clean towel on flat surface. Dust with powdered sugar. Immediately turn out hot, baked cake onto prepared towel. Remove waxed paper. Carefully roll up warm cake and towel from narrow end of cake. When cool, carefully unroll cake and remove towel.
Spread sherbet or frozen yogurt evenly over cake. Reroll cake and serve immediately; or wrap in foil and place in freezer until serving time. To serve, cut in slices. Makes about 10 slices. Apple-Walnut Frozen Custard 2 cups milk 1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed 2 eggs, beaten 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 4 tart cooking apples, peeled, cored 1/2 cup light corn syrup 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1 cup whipping cream 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
In small saucepan, combine milk, brown sugar, and beaten eggs. Cook and stir over low heat until mixture thickens slightly and coats a metal spoon. Stir in cinnamon and nutmeg; cool to room temperature. Cut apples into small pieces. Puree apple pieces, corn syrup, and lemon juice in blender or food processor until almost smooth.
In large bowl, combine pureed apple mixture, cooled custard, whipped cream, and walnuts. Pour into ice cream canister. Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions. Makes about 2 quarts. Peppermint-Stick Ice Cream 2 egg yolks, beaten 1/2 cup sugar 1 cup milk 1 cup whipping cream 1/2 cup crushed peppermint stick candy
In a small saucepan, combine beaten egg yolks, sugar, and milk. Cook and stir over low heat until mixture is slightly thickened and coats a metal spoon.
Remove from heat; stir in whipping cream and 1/4 cup crushed candy. Cool to room temperature. Pour into ice cream canister. Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions. When frozen, stir in remaining crushed candy. Makes about 1 quart. Mincemeat Mousse 3 egg yolks 3/4 cup sugar 1/2 cup orange juice 1/2 cup mincemeat 3 egg whites, at room temperature 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar 1/2 cup whipping cream Chopped walnuts (optional) Whipped cream (optional)
In large bowl, beat egg yolks until thick and lemon colored, 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside. In small saucepan, combine sugar and orange juice. Stir over medium heat until mixture comes to boil. Beating constantly, immediately pour hot orange syrup over beaten egg yolks. Continue beating until mixture doubles in volume, about 5 minutes. Stir in mincemeat; set aside.
In medium bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until peaks are stiff but not dry. Fold into egg yolk mixture; set aside. In small bowl, whip 1/2 cup cream until soft peaks form. Fold into egg yolk mixture. Spoon into a 6-cup mold or souffle dish. Cover with foil or plastic wrap. Place in freezer; freeze 3 to 6 hours until firm.
Place medium platter or serving plate in refrigerator to chill, about 30 minutes. To unmold, dip frozen mold quickly in and out of lukewarm water to depth of contents. Invert mold onto chilled platter or plate; remove mold. Garnish with chopped walnuts and whipped cream, if desired. Cut into wedges to serve. Makes 8 servings. Chocolate-Mint Truffle Mold 10 whole ladyfingers, split horizontally 1 cup butter at room temperature 2 cups sifted powdered sugar 3 1-ounce squares unsweetened chocolate, melted 4 eggs 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract Whipped cream (optional)
In bottom of 8-inch springform pan, arrange 10 ladyfinger halves cut side down like spokes of a wheel. Reserve remaining ladyfinger halves. In large bowl, beat butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in melted chocolate. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in peppermint extract. Gently spoon into pan without disturbing ladyfingers in pan.
Over top of filling, arrange reserved ladyfinger halves cut side down like spokes of a wheel. Cover pan with foil or plastic wrap. Place in freezer; freeze at least 4 hours. Remove side of pan; cut into wedges. Garnish with whipped cream, if desired. Makes 8 servings.