A Sweet End To Summer

Five desserts that are excellent for right now

Given my penchant for all things sweet, no one is more surprised than me that we haven’t showcased more desserts over the last few months. We’re changing that today: We’ve handpicked five of our favorites, all of which are perfect for the waning days of summer. Naturally, pie and ice cream options are included, but I like to think there’s something for everyone here.


Yogurt Raspberry Fool

The easiest mousse ever and a perfect treatment for raspberries, which require no cooking at all to be tender. The yogurt adds a really nice tanginess. A fool can be made with any soft, ripe fruit — most you won’t even need to strain after puréeing — in the same way.

Makes: 4 to 6 servings
Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 cups fresh raspberries

  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more if needed

  • 1/2 cup cream, very cold

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

  • 1 cup plain yogurt

Instructions

1. Purée about one-third of the raspberries in a blender with 1/4 cup of the confectioners’ sugar. Force the purée through a fine-meshed sieve to remove the seeds. Taste; the purée should be quite sweet. If not, add a little more sugar.

2. Set aside a few berries for garnish and roughly mash the remaining berries just until they’re broken up. Toss with the remaining 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar.

3. Beat the cream with the granulated sugar until it holds soft peaks. Fold in the yogurt. Beat in the raspberry purée, then fold in the sugared berries and any juices. Taste and add more confectioners’ sugar if necessary. Garnish with the whole berries and serve immediately. Or cover and refrigerate for no more than 2 hours.

Recipe from How to Cook Everything: Completely Revised 20th Anniversary Edition 

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Frozen Hot Chocolate

Ubiquitous, yes, but: So what? Serve it with biscotti or other not-too-sweet cookies. Melt six ounces of good dark chocolate with a quarter cup of cream or half-and-half, being careful not to boil. Once the chocolate is melted, taste and add a little sugar if you like. Put it in the blender with three cups of ice and pulse until an even consistency is reached. Serve in small bowls or cups.

— Recipe from Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Express

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Fresh Fruit Gratin

Exactly what it sounds like, and who could argue with that? Use stone fruits (peaches, nectarines, plums, or apricots) or berries. Wash, pit, and prepare the fruit as needed; heat the broiler. Combine one cup of sour cream with about two tablespoons of sugar and one teaspoon of vanilla. Put two to three cups of fruit in a baking dish just large enough to hold it, top with the sour cream mixture, and sprinkle with a teaspoon of sugar; broil for about two minutes, or until the cream begins to brown.

— Recipe from Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Express

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Peach Pie

Perfectly ripe fruit — peaches or otherwise — is crucial to success here. Other fruits to substitute: apricots, plums, sweet cherries, nectarines.

Makes: One 9-inch pie (about 8 servings)
Time: About 1 ½ hours

Ingredients

  • About 2 pounds peaches (6 to 10 peaches, depending on size)

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

  • About 1/2 cup sugar, more if the peaches are not quite ripe, plus more for sprinkling

  • 1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch or 2 tablespoons instant tapioca

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or ground allspice

  • 2 recipes Flaky Piecrust, bottom crust fitted into a 9-inch pie plate, top crust transferred to a rimless baking sheet, both chilled

  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into bits

  • Milk for brushing

Instructions

1. Heat the oven to 450°F. Peel the peaches: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and drop the peaches into it, a couple at a time, for 10 to 30 seconds, until the skins loosen. Plunge into a bowl of ice water. Slip the skins off, using a paring knife to ease the process. Pit and slice the peaches, and toss with the lemon juice in a large bowl.

2. Mix together the sugar, cornstarch or tapioca, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small bowl. Add to the peaches and toss to coat them. Pile into the pie shell, making the pile a little higher in the center than at the sides. Dot with the butter. Cover with the top crust. Crimp and decorate the edges with a fork or your fingers.

3. Put the pie on a baking sheet and brush the top lightly with milk; sprinkle with sugar. Use a sharp paring knife to cut two or three 2-inch-long slits in the top crust; this will allow steam to escape. Bake for 10 minutes; reduce the heat to 350°F and bake for another 40 to 50 minutes or until the pie is golden brown. Check on the pie when
it has been baking for a total of 35 minutes and if the edges of the crust are browning too quickly, cover them loosely with pieces of foil to prevent burning. Do not underbake. Cool on a wire rack before serving warm or at room temperature. Cover and store the leftovers at room temperature for up to 2 days; if there’s still anything left after that, move it to the fridge for another couple days.

Flaky Piecrust

Makes: 1 crust for a 9-inch pie
Time: 20 minutes, plus time to chill

I’ve used this recipe and technique for years and always been pleased with the results; it may be basic, but piecrusts don’t get much more flaky and flavorful. This is enough dough for a single-crusted pie; simply double the recipe for fruit pies where you need a bottom and top (or lattice) crust.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) very cold butter, cut into chunks

  • 3 tablespoons ice water, plus more if necessary

Instructions

1. Use a food processor to pulse the flour, sugar, and salt together. Add the butter and pulse until it is just barely blended with the flour, and the butter is broken down to the size of peas. If you prefer to make the dough by hand, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and butter in a large bowl. With your fingertips, 2 knives or forks, or a pastry cutter, work the butter pieces into the dry ingredients, being sure to incorporate all of the butter evenly, until the mixture has the texture of small peas.

2. Add 3 tablespoons ice water (not just cold water). Process for about 5 seconds or mix by hand with a wooden spoon, just until the dough beings to clump together, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons more ice water if necessary. Add a little more flour if you add too much water.

3. Press the dough into a disk about 1 inch thick. It’s important not to overheat, overwork, or knead the dough; squeeze it with enough pressure to just hold it together. Wrap in plastic or put in a zipper bag, pushing out as much air as possible. Freeze the disk of dough for 10 minutes or refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling. (You can make the dough to this point and refrigerate for up to a couple days or freeze for months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before proceeding.)

4. Dust a large pinch flour over a clean work surface. Put the dough on the work surface. Sprinkle a little more flour on top of the dough and dust the rolling pin with flour. (Too much flour will dry the dough; you can always sprinkle on a little more if the dough starts to stick.) Using firm but not too hard pressure on the pin, start rolling the dough from the center outward to form a circle. If the dough feels too hard or is cracking a lot, let it rest for a few minutes. As you roll, only add flour as needed to prevent it from sticking to the pin; lift, rotate, and turn the dough with a spatula to form an even circle.

5. When the dough circle is about 2 inches wider than the pie plate and less than 1/8 inch thick, it’s ready. Roll the dough halfway onto the pin so it’s easy to move, then center it over the pie plate and unroll it in place. Press the dough into the contours of the dish without squishing or stretching it; patch any tears with a small scrap of dough from the edge and seal with a drop of water. Trim any excess dough to about 1/2 inch all around.

6. If you’re making a single-crust pie, tuck the edges under themselves so the dough is thicker on the rim than it is inside the plate; if you’re making a double-crust pie, leave the edges untucked for now. Put the pie plate in the fridge until the crust feels cool to the touch before filling or prebaking. For a top crust, make a second batch of dough, roll it the same way, and put in the fridge on a flour-dusted baking sheet.

Recipes from How to Cook Everything: Completely Revised 20th Anniversary Edition

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Ice Cream Sandwich

Let vanilla ice cream soften for five minutes. Lay cocoa snaps or gingersnaps (or vanilla wafers) out in two rows and spread raspberry jam thinly on each one. Add a scoop of the softened ice cream to half the cookies and top with the remaining cookies to make sandwiches. (Obviously, use different flavors of ice cream or sorbet if you’d like, or vary the jam — or skip it altogether.)

— Recipe from Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Express

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