Fresh fruit desserts are the perfect end to any summer meal. They’re cool, healthy and delicious, and with these recipes they’re simple to prepare. Does it get any better than this?
1. Strawberries and Cream
Strawberry shortcake without the cake, this ridiculously delicious dessert is a lot simpler than the traditional version, and lighter as well. Rather than having to heat up the house baking a cake, all you have to is rinse and slice fresh strawberries, then top with homemade whipping cream. All you need is:
- 1 pound of fresh strawberries
- 1 cup of heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Could this recipe get any easier? Rinse the strawberries, then core and slice them. The presentation looks best if you divide them into individual serving cups (between two and six, depending on how big you want your servings to be), but you can just dump them all into one big bowl and let your guests dish it out themselves if you’d rather. Then mix the cream, sugar and vanilla in a separate bowl, and beat with an electric mixer until the cream stands up in soft peaks. Add a dollop over each dish and you’re good to go!
Note that if strawberries aren’t your thing you can easily substitute them with any fresh summer fruit of your choosing—pretty much everything goes with sweet cream! And for an extra decadent finish, try freezing a bar of very dark chocolate, then grate it over the top of the dessert.
2. Flavored Lemonade
This is another of our favorite easy summer dessert recipes, and the best part is it works whether you’re a lemonade artisan or a busy mom. All you have to do is puree frozen fruit—peaches, mangos, any kind of berry—and add it to your lemonade, and suddenly you’re the one who really went the extra mile. You’ll need:
- 8 oz. of any kind of frozen fruit
- 1/2 gallon lemonade, prepared (this can be made from an old fashioned recipe with sugar and lemons, or straight from a can or bottle. Your call.)
- Mint leaves (optional), for garnish
Set the frozen fruit on the counter for 10 to 15 minutes, until it starts to soften, then puree in a blender. Add to lemonade and mix well. Garnish with mint leaves, if desired, and serve very cold.
3. Frozen Watermelon
This is honestly exactly as easy as it sounds, and incredibly refreshing on those days when it’s just too hot to move. The only ingredient is:
Cut the watermelon in circles lengthwise, with each slice about 1” thick. Cut off rind and slice circles into sticks, also about 1’’ wide. Insert a skewer lengthwise into each piece and lay close (but not touching) on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper. Freeze until solid, then enjoy.
Another one of the classic summer fruit dessert recipes, milkshakes don’t have to be complicated, fattening, or even particularly high in sugar. To cut the calories and add a boost of vitamins, skip the ice cream and make milkshakes with your favorite frozen fruit. Use:
- 2 cups milk
- 2 cups frozen fruit
- 1 to 2 Tbsp. sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
Pour milk, vanilla and 1 to 2 Tbsp. of sugar, depending on how sweet you like your milkshakes, into your blender and blend for 20 to 30 seconds, until the sugar is dissolved. Add the frozen fruit 1/2 cup at a time and blend until smooth. Pour and serve.
Hint: if you like thinner milkshakes, or your blender doesn’t have a good motor, you may want to use only 1 1/2 C fruit.
5. Rainbow Skewers
A favorite—and beautiful—summer dessert recipe for outdoor gatherings are rainbow skewers. To make them, all you need are a variety of colorful fruits. We’ve provided our favorites as suggestions, but don’t hesitate to mix and match with whatever your preferred fruits are. You will get the best results using seasonal, local produce in this recipe. Our suggested Ingredients:
Cut the fruit you are using into pieces no larger than 1” cubes, then thread them onto skewers starting with the blueberries. Thread several berries on and push them nearly to the top of the skewer, then add several pieces of kiwi and so on. Ideally, each fruit will take up 1/4 of the available space on the stick. Arrange on a serving platter in the shape of a rainbow and serve with whipping cream, vanilla yogurt or chocolate pudding for dipping.
6. Banana Pudding Pie
While this definitely falls into the category of a summer fruit dessert, bananas’ year-round availability means that if you fall in love with it, you can have it through all four seasons. The simple ingredient list also means that you can fall back on it easily any time that you planned another dessert, only to find out at the last minute the store was out of fresh strawberries or mangos. Ingredients:
- 1 or 2 bananas
- Store-bought graham cracker crust
- Instant vanilla pudding
- Milk, as directed on package
Slice the banana(s) into thin circles and arrange on the bottom of the pie crust. For a fuller, richer banana flavor, use two bananas and layer the slices in two or three layers on the bottom the crust; for a more subtle flavor stick with one banana and one layer of slices. Prepare the pudding as directed for pie (note this is not the same as the normal “pudding” directions; pie directions reduce the milk and are usually located on the narrow edge of the carton). Pour the pudding carefully into the crust, trying not to disturb the banana slices, then chill for at least three hours before serving.