If you're looking for an excuse to make dessert, here's one that will last you for months: summer. This laid-back, sun-drenched season is full of juicy strawberries and plump plums and plumper peaches — and it sure would be a shame to ignore such bounty, right?
Here are some of our favorite fruity recipes, plus lots of icy-cold treats for after you spend too long napping in the sun (as you must).
Cakes of all kinds
A carefree pistachio cake that's as low-key as a Saturday in June. The batter comes together completely in a food processor. And the end result begs to be topped with ripe fruit and whipped cream.
Can't decide between a peach cobbler and a cake? Erin McDowell has you covered: "four layers of cake made with cornmeal for texture and yogurt for a little tanginess. They're sandwiched together with a super delicious mascarpone cream, plenty of juicy sliced peaches, and my clumpiest streusel to complete the cobbler extravaganza."
These simple stunners skip the frosting and sprinkles in favor of a gooey center of lemony cream cheese flecked with sweet-tart raspberries. The tangy, berry-filled cream cheese gives these little cakes fruit danish vibes that are 100% welcome.
Another showstopper from Erin McDowell. This time, it's a tall strawberry shortcake (get it?), held together by a magical whipped cream that won't deflate any time soon, all thanks to a secret ingredient...
This rye and plum skillet cake has no shortage of streusel. Recipe developer Sarah Jampel seasons the mixture with cinnamon and almonds, but feel free to swap in your favorite spices and nuts.
One of the most popular recipes on our site, Louisa's Cake, features grated apples. This updated version uses peaches instead. If your fruit is super-duper juicy, add another spoonful of flour to the batter.
Twice the fruit, twice the fun. Here, raspberries are mixed into the shortcake batter (oh yes), and then more raspberries are sandwiched between halved shortcakes with lots of whipped cream.
Is there anything better than a just-fried fritter? No? Good. We could eat a million of these yeasted doughnuts, especially with their honey-cinnamon glaze.
Whatever fruit looks A++ at the supermarket or farmer's market or that stand on the side of the road is the fruit you should use in this freestyle cake. Just don't forget to serve a big scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.
One dough gets used in two places here: first as a cake layer, second as a streusel topping. In the middle live lots of fresh strawberries, though you could get wild and swap in another berry of your choice.
Like chocolate-covered strawberries meet strawberries and cream. The shortcakes are ultra tender and super chocolatey thanks to cocoa powder and finely chopped chocolate. Add sweet summer berries and a good helping of freshly whipped cream and you really can't go wrong.
Cobblers and co.
12. Plum crisp
The big-little secret to this plum crisp? It's all in the oats. Instead of mixing them right into the streusel, you toast them first, which takes their flavor from good to great.
This cobbler will surprise you at its beginning (the fruit gets mixed with no thickener) and end (you sprinkle sugar, then pour hot water all over the topping). But just trust — it's genius.
A classic pandowdy crust is made up of pie dough pies. This one skips the dough-making and tears up a loaf of challah instead — and the blueberries couldn't be happier.
Sesame breadsticks as the topping to a fruit crumble? It's a thing. Or at least it is now, thanks to the brilliant Brooks Headley.
Hello, Fourth of July dessert. This cozy recipe is red, white, and blue, thanks to an assortment of berries (mixed with candied ginger!) and vanilla ice cream. You could also swap in whipped cream, crème fraîche, or a pour of heavy cream.
Who said swampy is a bad thing? Longtime Food52er Emily says it's a very good thing when it involves peak-season strawberries and a rye crust.
Pies, tarts, etc.
A pie for people who think they can't make pie. J. Kenji López-Alt's recipe calls for Ritz crackers, heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, and limes — and comes together in only 10 minutes.
"By making mint-sugar, lightly-green sugar that's been food processed with mint," writes Sarah Jampel, "you can give a pie a subtle herby flavor while steering clear from anything strange or grassy." She calls in peaches and cherries, but why not mint-sugar any fruit pie that comes your way?
A second helpings–worthy fruit tart that just so happens to be raw and vegan. Wait, what? The VIP here is cashews, which turn into both the crust and the custard.
Looks like any other blueberry pie, but not so fast: A poppy seed streusel, scattered both below and above this pie's fruit filling, makes it stand out.
If it stresses you out to wonder, "Is the fruit done?" while baking a pie, then meet this recipe, your new best friend. Blueberries are held together by a quickie "blueberry gel," and topped with a mountain of soft cream.
Flaky goat cheese pastry, you're good with just about everything, but especially sweet-tart summer berries — and even more goat cheese, because why not?
24. Peach tart
"Every cook needs a good dessert recipe that can be whipped up anywhere, especially when you're away from your kitchen and its mixer and rolling pin and comforting gadgets," writes our co-founder Amanda Hesser. "This peach tart is that recipe for me."
We had you at tahini mousse, right? Well, just you wait until you have it on top of a chocolate-cookie crust with a drizzle of date syrup on top.
There are coconut cream pies and then there's the coconuttiest coconut cream pie — with a coconut shortbread crust, coconut milk pastry cream, and coconut cream topping. Oh, and toasted coconut on top.
Bill Smith's lemon pie is famous for good reason: It's as bright and refreshing (lemon! saltines!) as it is easy-peasy to make.
Mousse usually means whipping egg whites or heavy cream, then folding ingredients together with care. But this mousse — full of melted chocolate and tangy Greek yogurt — isn't interested in any of that.
29. Matcha posset
A silky green tea custard that doesn't need egg yolks or cornstarch to thicken. Instead, it relies on just-squeezed lemon juice (and magic).
If this is the go-to chocolate pudding for chocolate expert Alice Medrich, it should be your go-to chocolate pudding, too. She loves to pour cold cream on top.
Classic Southern banana pudding gets a butterscotch-y update. You can assemble this dessert in a 9x13-inch pan (potlucks! backyard BBQs!) or in individual glasses (cute!).
32. Coffee pudding
The only thing better than a cup of hot coffee in the morning is a dish of cool coffee pudding at night. We love this version for its pinch of cinnamon and spoonful of tahini.
This fuss-free pudding thinks it's Key lime pie. And with its tart lime custard and buttery graham cracker streusel, who are we to tell it otherwise?
Meet the most foolproof summer dessert around. All you need is a loaf of white bread, some berries, sugar, and cream. Bonus points for a flavoring like rose water, or feel free to swap in vanilla or almond extract, or even rum.
35. Corn ice cream
This ice cream is sweet from sugar as it is from the corn itself, with a milky-buttery richness. Buttermilk adds tang (just like in cornbread), while vanilla keeps the vibe desserty. This is great plain, scooped on top of any fruit pie (especially blueberry), or served in a bowl with lots of caramel sauce on top.
A modern take on traditional kulfi. Meera Sodha uses evaporated milk and heavy cream to streamline the process. We love toasted pistachios on top.
37. Oreo dessert
This family-famous ice cream cake — with Oreos, vanilla ice cream, and chocolate ganache — is sure to be the talk of the party.
An Italian-inspired icebox cake from Nigella Lawson. And don't worry you don't have to make your own gelato: Just get some cream, chocolate, store-bought meringues, and coffee liqueur or rum (or both!).
DIY frozen yogurt is possible, simple, and wildly good. Ice cream whisperer Max Falkowitz figured out that all you need is yogurt (full-fat), sugar (don't reduce it), and a hefty pinch of salt.
If there's a summerier ice cream sandwich, don't tell us. We'll just be over here, blissfully eating these — with raspberry ice cream and coconut shortbread "bread."
41. Mochi ice cream
Name a cuter bite-size dessert, we'll wait. Still waiting. Still waiting...
You'll usually find salty preserved lemons in savory recipes, but in this case, it takes lemon ice cream from "I'll have two scoops, please" to "I'll have the whole container."
Is this technically ice cream? No. Do we care? No. Should you always have bananas in your freezer to make this whenever a craving strikes? Yes. Add a spoonful of peanut butter or tahini for extra creaminess.
You already know that focaccia sandwiches are perfect for picnic lunches. But did you also know that they're just as great for dessert, especially when you stuff the centers with creamy chocolate sorbet?
This story was originally published on Food52.com: 44 summer desserts because I scream, you scream, we all — you know.