Memorial Day

9 Breezy Memorial Day Desserts Anyone Can Pull Off

Memorial Day rental kitchen, we see you.

May 15, 2019
Photo by James Ransom

Cool thing about me: I have never appropriately packed for a three-day weekend. When faced with the prospect of a day off work—and, accordingly, some overly ambitious road trip upstate, or train trek to the beach—I lose all rational sense of what clothes I wear and why. I go from being a functional human being who can complete many disparate tasks in a short amount of time, to someone who throws six overly heavy sweaters into a weekend bag and calls it a day.

Blame a temperature-controlled environment, or some sort of pathology. Either way, I've given up all hope of ever looking effortlessly styled as I bound from the kitchen of an Airbnb, swathed in seasonally appropriate linen, definitely not barefoot because I remembered shoes other than thick boots.

But there is one area of the packing department where I shine: dessert preparedness. As in, traveling with the materials necessary to pull together an exorbitant trifle, or a three-tiered cake in a pinch.

It's taken me lots of trial and error in many ill-equipped kitchens (or, you know, campsites), but recently I've gotten the packing list down to a science:

  • Whisk: a critical instrument for whipping cream by hand, and so much lighter to pack than a hand mixer.
  • Nine-inch cake pan: a stalwart size; and, when needed, easy to adapt any recipe to fit.
  • Parchment paper: for fuss-free lining of cookie sheets, muffin tins, and in desparate (pan-free) moments, the shelves of the oven (hi, toast).
  • A cup measurer: because if you're going to have to eyeball a bunch of measurements, this is the most versatile jumping off point.
  • A tablespoon measurer: ditto; a teaspoon should occupy about a third of it; a quarter cup equals four of these, et cetera.

If you've got those essential tools, the world of three-day weekend travel is your oyster, dessert-wise. Here are nine favorites you can pull together so easily, they'll have you feeling like it's a four-day weekend:

Maialino's Olive Oil Cake

You know that old saying, "When there's a will—plus a nine-inch cake pan, a whisk, and two rental house mixing bowls—there's a way?" Yeah, that's about this olive oil cake. True story: I once made it in a particularly sparse rental kitchen without any cup measurers, and it was still gone in 15 minutes.

Berries with Rosé

Just when you needed another excuse to open more rosé, this sophisticated—yet wildly simple—dessert blows into town, and steals the show. It's excellent topped with whipped cream, or you can swap in your favorite ice cream flavors. Oh, and save any leftover rosé syrup for cocktails.

One-Step, No-Churn Coffee Ice Cream

This brilliant Nigella Lawson recipe is basically magic: It yields creamy, airy ice cream with zero cooking, zero churning, and zero fussing. Your wand to wave? A whisk. Serve the ice cream as-is, straight from the freezer, or make like a three-day weekender and crumble cookies over the top.

Berry Summer Pudding

For a juicy, berry-filled bread pudding that tastes like it took all day to make, look no further than a loaf of sandwich bread. In this recipe from Food52's Co-Founder and President Merrill Stubbs, you'll use it to line a bowl, which you'll then layer with barely cooked fresh berries, and more bread. Weigh the whole thing down to chill overnight, and as Merrill writes, "The result is the essence of summer: The bread absorbs the juices and melts into a sweet, fragrant sponge, and when you cut into the pudding, the berries tumble out like so many rubies and sapphires."

Chocolate Chip Cookies With Maple & Olive Oil

These caramelly, rich cookies are studded with pools of chocolate, and just so happen to require little more than a whisk, bowls, and some baking sheets to whip up. Oh, and did we mention they're vegan? They're vegan.

Classic Icebox Cake

Whipped cream and chocolate wafer cookies to the rescue! If you can stack, you can make this festive chocolate icebox cake. It's equal parts summery and simple.

Swedish Gooey Chocolate Cake

This deeply decadent, fudgy chocolate cake takes just five ingredients and 20 minutes; no sifter, stand mixer, or double boiler in sight.

Homemade Vanilla Pudding

If there's a more straightforward vanilla pudding recipe around, we haven't met it! This one—which asks only for a whisk, a saucepan, gentle heat, and something to stir—is the perfect blank canvas for toppings.

Ridiculously Easy Hot Fudge Sundae

These stunning ice cream sundaes with hot fudge require merely a whisk, plus a pan and spoon for the fudge. Psst: Don't skip the cherry on top.

What's your go-to dessert for long weekends? Let us know in the comments!

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Ella Quittner

Written by: Ella Quittner

Ella Quittner is a contributing writer and the Absolute Best Tests columnist at Food52. She covers food, travel, wellness, lifestyle, home, novelty snacks, and internet-famous sandwiches. You can follow her on Instagram @equittner, or Twitter at @ellaquittner. She also develops recipes for Food52, and has a soft spot for all pasta, anything spicy, and salty chocolate things.

1 Comment

Laurence T. May 24, 2019
You MUST include here the No Churn Lemon Ice Cream! So fast, so wonderful, so “summer”. And so perfect paired with a slice of Louisa’s Cake.