The easiest summer dessert is, of course, just a piece of perfectly ripe fruit. But even the most produce-centric of us can want to mix it up sometimes. These recipes make the most of delicious summer fruit and recognize the need for cooling ice creams and sorbets as those heat waves hit.
Homemade ice cream is easier to make than you may think. And no, you don't even need an ice cream maker, just follow these directions for making ice cream without an ice cream maker.
Fresh fruit pies—with a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream—can be made year-round with frozen or canned fruit, of course, but what we love about those pies is that they remind us of the bright warm days of summer. Peach Pie is a perennial favorite, of course, although Blueberry Pie (or Deep-Dish Blueberry Pie or even Spiced Blueberry Pie!) is always a solid choice, too. (Get tips on making your own pie crust, if you're so inclined.)
And don't forget about turnovers (a.k.a. hand pies)! They are a great alternative to full pies. They are a bit more work to make, but easier to transport and serve—an important part of much summer entertaining. Sour Cherry Turnovers are one of my favorite ways to enjoy the all-too-brief sour cherry season. Blueberry Turnovers are easy to adapt with other fruit.
Traditional Stone Fruit Tarts or a Peach Crostada are always a hit, but if less baking is more your style this Blueberry and Jam Tart with a Gingered Graham Crust is one of my favorite desserts to whip up in the summer—the minimal cooking time and easy prep play in its favor, as does the tremendous taste. This Black Cherry Tart has a similar appeal.
This Sweet Corn Cake has fresh corn kernels puréed into the batter—heavenly with whipped cream and berries or simply with a cup of coffee. Buttermilk Cake is also a breeze to make and makes a perfect serving base for ripe berries. Want your fruit in the dessert not just on top of it? Try a rich Blueberry Yogurt Cake or easy Strawberry Cornmeal Shortcakes or Blueberry Shortcakes.
Berry Cobblers of all sorts are an easy and casual way to turn ripe fruit into tempting desserts—lightly sweetened berries or other fruit are topped with a sweet biscuit batter in artful clumps or a rustic crust and baked until the fruit is juicy and bubbling and the crust is browned and crunchy. Buttermilk Berry Cobbler, Raspberry Cornmeal Cobbler, and Sour Cherry Cobbler are all excellent examples.
7. Berry Fools
Fool—a mixture of lightly sweetened whipped cream and mashed or puréed ripe fruit—are traditionally made with strawberries. But berries of any sort work in this beyond-easy dessert that also never fails to impress. This Raspberry Fool is, dare I say, even better than the strawberry classic it mimics. Dress fools up with a bit of liqueur if that's your style.
Crisps are fruit topped with a mixture of oats, flour, sugar, and sometimes nuts. They are easy to customize with your favorite fruits, and spices or nuts in the topping. Hazelnut Berry Crisp is a great option, as is Blackberry Honey Crisp or Blueberry Almond Crisp. You also may want to give Rosemary Pear Crisp a try.