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Grilling immediately calls to mind smoky meats, vegetables and even seafood. However, many people may not know that grills can be an ideal place to cook dessert.

Outdoor grills are relied on to impart flavor and facilitate outdoor entertaining. Yet, when it comes time to serve dessert, hosts and hostesses often turn to store-bought treats or delicacies that must be cooked in the oven. But various delicious desserts can be prepared over an open fire.

Tips for safe home grilling

• When grilling, place the grill in a safe location. Grills should be at least 10 feet away from the house when they are in use. Also, keep the grill away from wooden overhangs or other structures attached to the house, such as garages and porches.

• Before using a gas grill, inspect it to make sure there are no gas leaks. Ensure hoses are properly connected and that the grill looks in good repair.

• Use propane and charcoal grills outdoors only. Never bring such grills into your house, even if it seems like there is ample ventilation. Potentially fatal carbon monoxide can build up quickly.

• Keep children and pets away from the grill area. Grills can be knocked over easily, and kids and pets may burn themselves if they bump into a hot grill.

• Clean the grill regularly. Grease and fat buildup forms in the tray below the grill and can be quite flammable. By brushing off the grates after each use and periodically removing food and grease buildup, you can prevent flare-ups that may ignite the grill.

• Always tend the grill while cooking. Walking away for even a minute may lead to accidents.

• Store unused propane tanks upright at all times to prevent leakage. Keep them outdoors and beyond the reach of children. Never smoke near propane cylinders and never move a lit grill.

• Keep a fire extinguisher handy in the event of a flare-up. A hose may not prove effective on a grease fire.

• It’s also important to emphasize food safety when grilling. Invest in a food thermometer so you can test the internal temperature of foods and prevent foodborne illnesses.

Grilling is a great and flavorful way to cook. But safety must remain a priority when grilling.

Grilled fruit: Slice up melon, pineapples, peaches, mangoes -- just about anything you can think of. Cook for a few minutes over low heat. The grill will help release the sugars and create that extra-tasty caramelization. Grilled fruit is a dessert without too many extra calories.

Grilled s'mores: S'mores are the quintessential campfire food, and they also can be cooked on the grill. If you don't trust little ones around the hot coals or propane, have them prepare the s'mores and then wrap them in foil. Adults can them toss them on the hot grates for a little while, until the foil packets can be unwrapped to unveil melted chocolate and marshmallow goodness.

Grilled cake: Use a firm cake, such as pound cake, and slice into thick pieces. Grill for a few minutes to warm, then top with fresh berries and homemade whipped cream for an easy and tasty treat.

Grilled cobbler: Dutch ovens are one of the great tools of outdoor cooking. Dutch ovens are heavy, cast-iron pots that can be lowered into a campfire. However, Dutch ovens also can be placed in the belly of a grill. Line with foil and fill the Dutch oven with a favorite cake mix, the corresponding oil amount, fresh berries and even chocolate chips. Let cook for 30 to 40 minutes on low heat until the mixture is bubbly.

Grilled dessert pizza: Ready-made or homemade pizza dough can be oiled and grilled over medium heat for a few minutes until grill marks form and the dough starts to puff and harden slightly. Turn over and cover with chocolate-hazelnut spread or some preserves. Grill for another few minutes until the dough is cooked through. Transfer to a cutting board and add sliced bananas.

Grilled menu options can extend to dessert to make outdoor entertaining even easier.

NAN Dining Guide Spotlight on 07/22/2018

Print Headline: Let grilled desserts add spark to outdoor entertaining

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