Summer Sweets | Desserts for the Sweetest Time of Year

In my humble opinion, the best time of year is upon us: summer! It brings that longawaited warm weather and the undeniable urge to go outside for that much-needed vitamin D in those sweet sun rays. The precious moments and flavors of summer know how to bring the sweetness! When you think of summer staples, you may think of ice cream, and there are so many more sweet delights in the summer months— think corn, peaches, all manner of berries, and more. If you are like me, you always ask for the dessert menu; here are some fun ways to sweeten your own summer menus.

VERY BERRY PAVLOVA
In my house, this is the ultimate Mother’s Day treat, but it is perfect any time of year. I love that is a “blank canvas” to add whatever is in season to the top. Berries create a delicious, gorgeous result for a summer splurge.

PAVLOVA

  • 4 egg whites
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

WHIPPED CREAM

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream, very cold
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

TOPPINGS
Raspberries, blueberries, or blackberries (whatever looks best to you!) Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Draw a 9-inch circle on parchment and flip over on a baking sheet. With stand mixer and whisk attachment, whisk egg whites and salt on high until firming up, about 1 minute. Slowly add sugar until shiny, stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. Remove bowl and sift in cornstarch; add vinegar and extract. Gently fold. Place within the drawn circle on the parchment and bake for 90 mins. Turn off the oven and fully cool in oven. While cooling, make the whipped cream. Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, whip together heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla until peaks are formed. Be careful not to over whip! Immediately use or cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. When you are ready to enjoy the pavlova, top with whipped cream and mixed berries.

SWEET CORN ICE CREAM  
This is a unique take on ice cream that everyone will love. The corn is sweet this time of year and makes for a perfect frozen dessert. This recipe calls for an ice cream maker, but it is super simple, sweetly refreshing and screams summertime!

  • 2 large ears fresh corn, cut off the cob
  • 1 cup whole milk 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 3/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a food processor or blender, puree corn. In a heavy-bottom saucepan combine the pureed corn, milk, cream, honey, and about half the sugar. Heat the mixture on medium-high until almost “scalding.” Be mindful, as boiling milk mixtures tend to bubble up and burn quickly (this can be tricky, so don’t leave your pan). Remove from heat and cover while going on to the next step. In another bowl, whisk together yolks, remaining sugar, and salt. Put the milk mixture back on medium heat and whisk the yolk mixture in. Once incorporated, turn heat to mediumlow and stir constantly with a wooden spoon or spatula. Try not to let the egg curdle because the heat is too high. If that starts to happen, remove from heat, and let cool before returning to the stovetop.

Once the mixture has thickened to a custard form, strain through a mesh strainer, pressing to remove all liquid and discarding any solid bits of corn or cooked egg to ensure a smooth texture. Stir in the vanilla, cover and refrigerate overnight. The next day, run the custard in an ice cream machine (per manufacturer’s instructions) and transfer to bowl. Cover and freeze once more for 3 hours to overnight.

FOOLPROOF PEACH TARTE TATIN
Peaches and summer go hand in hand! This recipe is “fancy” yet super simple with some great shortcuts. I love using storebought puff pastry because, let’s face it, puff pastry is very labor-intensive and hard to do well. It’s ok to “cheat” a little for such a magnificent result!

  • 6 fresh peaches, peeled and sliced into 8 wedges
  • 2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 (17.3-ounce) package frozen puff pastry, thawed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium-sized bowl, add peaches and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar, as well as the salt, cinnamon, cayenne and lemon juice. In a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Coat the pan with butter and be careful not to burn. Sprinkle the skillet evenly with the remaining sugar. Place peach slices flat on the top (this is where you can make a fun design too). Cook over medium to low heat, no stirring, until mixture turns a rich caramel color, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat.

Place puff pastry over top of the fruit and gently fold edges. Be incredibly careful as the skillet will be HOT! Bake 25 to 30 minutes and until golden brown. Allow cooling for at least 10 minutes and then gently invert on a wire rack. The peaches may fall off or move, but just place them where you like. Allow to cool for another 5 minutes before serving.

CORNMEAL CAKES WITH STRAWBERRY BASIL COMPOTE
We all love the idea of a traditional strawberry shortcake, but these tangy and sweet cakes take a different spin on the summertime classic. They are versatile and can be enjoyed as a dessert or a breakfast sweet. I love the addition of the earthy basil with the sweet contrast of the strawberries.

COMPOTE

  • 1 pound strawberries, cleaned, trimmed and hulled
  • Handful of fresh basil 2 tablespoons rum (optional) or 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

PANCAKES

  • 1 1/2 cups half and half
  • 4 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups fine cornmeal
  • 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 5 tablespoons butter, divided

Cook strawberries, basil, rum and sugar in a heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat. Stir continuously until strawberries are softened and syrupy, about 15 minutes. Let compote cool.

Whisk together half and half and vinegar in a small bowl and let it curdle slightly (this will give the cakes a “lacey look” and a slightly tangy taste), about 5 minutes. Once slightly curdled, whisk in eggs. In a separate bowl, combine cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder and salt and slowly add to wet ingredients. Whisk to fully combine. Melt 2 teaspoons of butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Ladle 1/3 cup batter into skillet. Cook cakes until lacy and golden underneath. Flip and cook about 1 minute more. Repeat about 8 times. To serve, spoon compote on top.


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