For some people (okay, for me), the July farmers' market generates as much excitement as crippling anxiety. There's just so much there—what to do with all of it? To help you narrow it down, we've gathered our best summer fruit desserts. You’ll find trifles layered with berries and cream, plus cupcakes inspired by every kid's favorite summer beverage (strawberry lemonade). There are easy no-bake desserts for when you don't want to turn on an oven...and let's be honest, no one wants to turn on the oven when it is nearly triple-digit temperatures outside. But there's also plenty of ice cream recipes for those same triple-digit-temperature days. And, if worse comes to worst, eating your summer fruit raw—or with a dusting of confectioners' sugar or a drizzle of honey—is always a good option.
Springy, spongy, and sweet as can be, this trifle begins with a homemade Madeira cake. Once baked and cooled, it's cut into cubes and layered with a raspberry-mango jelly, rich custard, fresh raspberries, and chopped mangoes.
Inspired by everyone's favorite thirst-quenching beverage, these stunning, swirled cupcakes were created by our Resident Erin Jeanne McDowell. They're made with a summery strawberry purée that uses a pound and a half of fresh berries, which is folded into the batter. Don't forget to top them with a luscious lemon buttercream!
Buttery, classic shortbread is as good as it gets...or so we thought. This version calls for half cornmeal and half all-purpose flour, which gives it an extra crumbly texture. Freeze-dried blueberries and a combination of fresh lemon juice and zest bring bright, summery flavor.
While there's nothing like the feeling of waving down the ice cream truck as it drives down your street and ordering a Firecracker Popsicle or ice cream sandwich, why not try making your own batch of ice cream this summer?
"They are also unexpectedly marvelous—with rich flavor and a velvety texture—simply poached in strong coffee with a little brandy," says recipe developer Alice Medrich of the juicy plums that make an appearance in this summer dessert.
First things first, we need to talk about the pillowy pink and white meringue that tops this fruity cake (though we wouldn't go so far as to call it a fruitcake). Fresh raspberries are macerated in superfine sugar and then get blended into a smooth purée. When folded with a stiff meringue, it creates a stunning marble effect that is absolutely enchanting atop a raspberry-studded yellow cake.
"Cake can be spicy. Cake can be weird. This one is both," says recipe developer Sarah Jampel. She's not kidding. The peanut streusel is made with roasted, unsalted peanuts, graham cracker crumbs, cinnamon, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. But trust us, it totally and completely works.
Leave it to Rick Martinez to reinvent the way that we think about ice cream. He starts by churning homemade vanilla bean ice cream...pretty normal, right? But the real magic occurs when he whisks together a chile fudge sauce and spicy berry sauce, respectively, and layers all three components on conchas (a traditional Mexican sweet bread).
Don't be fooled by the dark ripples throughout this buttery pound cake. It looks like chocolate, but in fact it's a swirl of seasonal freeze-dried blueberries. They're ground into a fine powder and mixed into half the batter for this eye-catching summer dessert.
Still have some sourdough starter sitting around that you made at the beginning of quarantine? Use it in the pastry for this summer galette, which has a rustic finish and a colorful, juicy filling. Cut a slice (or two), add a dollop (or two) of whipped cream, and polish it off in a bite (or two).
A gracious duo of almond milk and coconut oil provide plenty of moisture in this dairy-free dessert for summer. A crumbly mixture of chopped walnuts, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, flour, and brown sugar is scattered generously over a bubbly peach filling.
After blueberry picking, you have to deal with both the purple stains smeared across your white pants and a huge bushel of berries. We have solutions for both, but here we're specifically focusing on how to make a 30-minute jam using a cup of fresh blueberries. It's nothing short of a miracle.
No chocolate here! This summery twist on the timeless French treat feels seasonally appropriate and is chic as ever.
You want chocolate-dipped cherries or berries but you don't want the complicated process of having to temper chocolate. We get it, which is why we developed this easy, peasy two-ingredient recipe that does not require a pastry degree in order to absolutely nail it.
Rye flour brings nuttiness to the crust for this low-key, free-form pie that is jam-packed with a syrupy berry filling that is perfect for summer gatherings.
If you can't decide between sorbet and ice cream, make this fragrant berry dessert. Start by making a lime and strawberry sauce, using small, local strawberries, if possible, which become plump and syrupy when cooked with honey. Spoon it over a tart sherbet for a refreshing summer dessert.
Pandowdy is a fun word to say, but it's also a delicious dessert to eat. It's not unlike a cobbler or a crisp, but rather than using a crumble or biscuit topping, summer fruits—in this case peaches and blueberries—get topped with an array of cutouts from a homemade lemon-cornmeal crust.
No fussy water bath, no finicky ice cream maker. This pretty-in-pink ice cream dessert inspired by the flavors of a classic strawberry cheesecake is a piece of cake to make.
Roasting sweet cherries with sugar not only makes them extra juicy and jammy, but it also helps to develop rich caramel flavors that make this otherwise simple sorbet taste extra-special (bonus: it's vegan!).
You only need four ingredients to make this low-key chilled dessert for summer—stock up on blueberries at the farmers market and then pair them with heavy cream, honey, and your favorite type of plain yogurt.
Black raspberries are a rare gem. If you come across them and want to make the flavor last all summer long, turn them into this old-fashioned ice cream that gives recipe developer Merrill Stubbs all the nostalgic vibes.
Think of this as your best, most summery coffee cake of all time. A combination of fresh strawberries and strawberry jam concentrates the fruit flavor for an extra jammy bite.
There's a couple of ingredients that team up to elevate this basic yellow cake. Almond flour and almond extract are used in addition to the usual all-purpose flour and vanilla for an extra-crumbly texture and sweet flavor. It pairs miraculously well with sugary ripe peaches scattered on top of the batter.
Let's be real: Mom will love eating a slice of this cake 365 days a year.
Nutty tahini and crunchy sesame seeds are a match made in fruit dessert heaven. But the fun doesn't stop there, folks. A duo of olive oil and orange juice make this cake extra moist and ensure that every bite tastes like pure sunshine.
"If you aren't as plum crazy as I am, Goin assures that this dessert can be made with any super-ripe summer fruit: blackberries, nectarines, or figs," says recipe developer Sarah Jampel, who adapted this cake from The A.O.C. Cookbook.
The extra-wide strips of dough used to form the top crust of this peach pie mean that you'll get an extra-crunchy bite of crust once it's baked. Plus, the pieces are far less likely to break when you crisscross them to form the lattice topping.
Strawberry shortcakes are a timeless summer dessert, but we felt like it was time for an upgrade. So we added some rye flour to the biscuit, topped each with a sprinkle of crunchy sugar, and turned the filling into a particularly flavorful combination of roasted strawberries and rhubarb accented with citrus zest and fresh ginger.
It doesn't get more classic or easy than this free-form rustic galette filled with two pints of fresh blueberries. As for that herby crust, recipe developer Lisina says, "I added some rosemary, which I think pairs really well with the fresh blueberries."
The easiest? Really? YES! This simple shortcake recipe is made possible with just a few basic pantry ingredients (all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt, and heavy cream), plus three glorious pints of fresh, in-season strawberries. Work the dough by hand until the ingredients come together and then form 8 individual buttery biscuits.
Use whatever slightly-sweet, very crunchy cereal you have, or make a crumble of your own volition for this tart cake that marries rhubarb and raspberries (no, not strawberries!) together for a summer fruit dessert.