Top 10 Easy Summer Desserts Using Berries

August 16, 2013

It’s hot, it’s summer, and there are vibrant, succulent, in-season berries calling to you every time you go to the farmers market, grocery store, or local berry farm. These easy berry desserts are perfect for sultry summer nights when you want something sweet… now.

1. Eton Mess Eton Mess is a classic British treat consisting of strawberries, crushed meringue, and whipped cream. Legend has it that the dish was created when a meringue dessert was dropped and trampled by a dog at Eton College, but we promise it’s more delicious when prepared by human hands!

How do you make it?

Heat a pint of raspberries in a small saucepan with a few tablespoons of sugar over very low heat until the berries start to release their juices, then puree in a food processor and leave to cool. Hull and quarter a pint of strawberries, whip a cup of cream until soft peaks form, and roughly crumble four storebought meringue nests. Fold everything together gently, then spoon into four glasses. Serves 4.

2. Berry Yoghurt Popsicles Are your kids constantly pestering you for tubs of candy-filled, fudge-swirled, super-sweet ice creams from the grocery store? Offer up these super easy berry yoghurt popsicles instead. Just as refreshing as ice cream and far healthier to boot, no one will mind if you sneak a popsicle for yourself. After all, it’s hot out there!

How do you make it?

Blend together 2 cups of Greek yoghurt (full-fat, low-fat, or fat-free, the choice is yours), ¼ - ½ cup of honey (to taste), and 1 ½ cups of your favourite summer berries (blueberries are great!). Pour into 8 popsicles moulds and freeze for 4 hours or overnight. Alternatively, you can blend the yoghurt and honey and then fold a mix of berries through, for a polka-dot popsicle effect. Serves 8.

3. White Chocolate Blackberry Blondies If you’re looking for an easy berry dessert to take along to a dinner party, make these white chocolate blackberry blondies. Rich and moist with white chocolate, fresh blackberries provide a tangy-sweet burst to each bite.

How do you make it?

Melt 100g each of white chocolate and butter in a large bowl, then stir in ½ cup of sugar. Gradually stir in 2 lightly beaten eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1 cup all-purpose flour. Fold in 1 cup blackberries, then pour into a greased and lined 8x8-inch square tin. Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes. Cool in tin before cutting into squares. Makes 12-16 blondies.

4. Balsamic-Macerated Strawberries No one can deny that strawberries are perfection when picked and eaten at the peak of ripeness, but did you know that mixing them with a little balsamic vinegar plays up their sweetness? Try this sophisticated trick and you’ll never look at strawberries the same way again.

How do you make it?

Wash, hull, and slice a pint of strawberries, and place in a non-reactive bowl. Gently toss with 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar and 2 tablespoons sugar. Set aside for half an hour at room temperature, or until the strawberries have released their juices and are glossy. If you’re truly daring, stir through a little julienned basil or mint. Serve with ice cream, sweetened ricotta cream, or grilled pound cake. Serves 4.

5. Raspberry Whip This ethereally light and sweet frozen mousse is dairy-free, gluten-free, fat-free, and calls for only four ingredients: raspberries, egg whites, sugar, and a little lemon juice. You won’t believe how fluffy and delicious this dessert is!

How do you make it?

Place 300g raspberries (fresh or thawed from frozen), 2 egg whites, 1 cup superfine sugar, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice in the large bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, and start whipping on low until combined. Gradually increase the speed then whip on high for 10 minutes, at which point the mousse will have greatly increased in volume. Scoop the fluffy mousse into a large bowl or 8 – 10 individual serving bowls, and freeze at least 4 – 6 hours or overnight. Serve directly from the freezer. Serves 8 – 10.

6. Blueberry Mint Granita Craving sorbet but don’t have an ice cream maker? Granita is the magical solution to this common summertime dilemma. Blend, freeze, scrape, eat. Blueberries never tasted so good.

How do you make it?

In a food processor, blend 400g blueberries, ½ cup sugar, ¾ cup water, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and ¼ cup mint leaves. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve, discarding solids. Pour mixture into a 9x13-inch shallow baking tin and freeze for three hours, scraping with a fork every 20 minutes. Garnish with fresh mint. Serves 4.

7. Impossible Raspberry Pie Impossible pie is the simplest pie you’ll ever make. Mix together a few pantry-staple ingredients and, while baking, the pie forms its own crust. With a handful of raspberries thrown in for good measure, this custard-y pie is sure to delight.

How do you make it?

In a large bowl, beat together 4 eggs, ½ cup melted butter, ½ cup all-purpose flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup desiccated coconut, 2 cups milk, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Stir in a handful or two of raspberries. Pour into a greased 10″ Pyrex pie dish, and bake at 350°F for 40-50 minutes or until edges are golden. Cool in dish. Serves 8.

8. Raw Vegan Berry Crisp When it’s far too hot to turn on the oven, or you’ve got guests with dietary restrictions coming over, this raw vegan berry crisp will have you dancing with delight at each bite. With nuts, dates, coconut, and berries as the star ingredients, this dessert is quick, fabulous, and healthy too.

How do you make it?

Puree two cups of sweet strawberries then mix with two cups each of halved pitted cherries and blueberries. Divide this between 4 ramekins. In a clean food processor, pulse together 1 cup walnuts, ½ cup almonds, ½ cup pitted Medjool dates, ½ cup coconut, and a pinch each salt and cinnamon until a crumbly, moist texture forms. Sprinkle crumble evenly over the berries in the ramekins. Alternatively, you can layer the berries and crumble for a parfait-style dessert. Serves 4.

9. Mini Berry Tarts This is a recipe for the times you need dessert in ten minutes flat. Storebought pastry cases, cream cheese, sugar, and gorgeous fresh berries create something that is more than the sum of its parts: mini berry tarts. Bet you can’t stop at just one.

How do you make it?

With an electric hand or stand mixer, beat together 125g (half an 8 oz block) cream cheese with ½ cup powdered sugar and ½ teaspoon vanilla. Divide evenly between 12 storebought mini pastry cases, and top with your favourite berries (blueberries, raspberries, and halved cherries all work wonderfully). If you have time, garnish with chocolate shavings for an extra special touch. Makes 12.

10. Jam Thumbprint Cookies Remember when you preserved a whole bunch of fresh berries last summer and stored them away as jam in the back of your pantry before forgetting about them? Yep, us too. Time to pull out those jam jars for a batch of these buttery, crumbly jam thumbprint cookies.

How do you make it?

Cream together ¾ cup softened butter with ½ cup sugar. Add 2 egg yolks and ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract, beating until combined. With the mixer on low, slowly beat in 1 ¾ cups sifted all-purpose flour until a soft dough forms. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, then roll dough into 1 ¼-inch balls and place on a cookie sheet. With your thumb, make a small indent in each ball, filling each indent with a about ½ teaspoon of berry jam. Bake at 350°F for 8 – 10 minutes. Cool before serving. Makes around 30.

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