I eat seasonally on all levels. It’s not just about the ingredients—like using rhubarb in the spring and butternut squash in the fall. It’s about my mood, and what I’m wearing, and what makes me feel solidly like I’m one with the calendar. So during the summer, when I’m almost always too hot, I love berries and stone fruit—but I also want lots of cold, sweet things to refresh and rejuvenate me.
As such, here are my top must-have desserts for summer.
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Creamy, crisp and cold, this Italian “meringue cake” is truly just so good. It’s essentially a giant meringue ice cream sandwich, except it’s filled with super simple chocolate-swirled whipped cream instead of ice cream. Since it’s stored in the freezer, you can make it ahead for a party or just make it for yourself and eat some every day.
I will never go back to eating strawberry shortcake now that I’ve been introduced to these heavenly strawberry biscuits. The biscuits, which are studded with fresh strawberries, are light and tender and not too sweet. They’re served alongside a tangy mix of whipped crème fraiche and cream that has been swirled with delicious strawberry puree. This is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.
When Grace Parisi made this in the F&W Test Kitchen, I became Obsessed. Capital O. It’s only three ingredients, it doesn’t need to be baked, and it’s crazy good. Plus, you kind of can’t mess it up. The only catch is that you must let it sit overnight so that the cookies soften and become properly cake-like.
Our executive food editor, Tina Ujlaki, swears by this cold, lemony, silky pie. On a hot summer day, it’s the pie equivalent of a tall glass of lemonade. It’s totally refreshing and makes you pucker just a bit, as all good lemon desserts should.
It takes 10 cups of rhubarb and strawberries to make the perfect filling in this classic pie, which is a sure sign that this is going to be great. The pie bakes for 2 solid hours then cools for several hours more, but be patient—it’s worth the wait.
I love this paean to blueberries. I also love a free-form crust, which is much less scary and exacting than using a pie plate. Plus I think it makes a pie look more welcoming, like you don’t even need a plate to eat it (you definitely do not, but a napkin is a good idea).
There is almost nothing to this recipe, and that’s the beauty of it. Get great watermelon and amp it up with lime and mint. And I love the suggestion of giving it a boozy splash of rum.
Georgia peach pie! It’s juicy and sweet and screams summer to me. Bourbon whipped cream is a fun and unexpected way to jazz it up, but it can be omitted, too.