Even though summer "officially" starts on June 22 (aka the summer solstice), the season doesn't really kick off until the Fourth of July holiday—and not just because there are fireworks to mark the occasion. By the time the 4th rolls around, the farmers markets are abundant with the ripe fruits and vegetables you dreamt about all winter long, the weather is reliably hot and sunny, and the idea of doing a full day of absolutely nothing at the beach is still a novelty.
July Fourth marks the real start of summer, and my favorite way to celebrate that is with a killer dessert table. When I was younger, I'd always make a beeline for the blueberry pie my mom would pick up from our favorite bakery in Florida, which was topped with at least two scoops of vanilla ice cream. Today, I'm still a blueberry pie fanatic, but I've also added a handful of other sweet and simple treats (think: tarts, icebox cakes, no-churn ice creams, and cookies) to my repertoire so that I can satisfy any craving.
From a super-colorful tart starring the season's best fruits to chocolate-dipped mint ice cream sandwiches you can make days ahead of time, here are 11 easy dessert recipes to keep bookmarked for the Fourth of July holiday.
You don't need to turn on the stove to make this ultra-refreshing, sweet-tart lemon ice cream, thanks to this recipe from peach farmer and cookbook author, Dori Sanders. Just juice, zest, stir, and freeze.
You'll be hard pressed to find a more showstopping summer dessert than this roasted raspberry peach tart from our resident baking pro, Erin McDowell. But don't worry—this tart's easier to make than it looks, with a small ingredients list and extra-simple instructions.
To say that I'm obsessed with these chocolate buckwheat cookies (that just so happen to be gluten-free) would be an understatement. Their pure chocolate flavor and soft, crumbly texture make it impossible to have only one...or six.
Prep the fresh raspberry ice cream and lemon-coconut shortbread a day or two ahead of July 4th so that all you have to do the day of is scoop, stack, and serve.
Harbor Bars—chocolate-dipped ice cream sandwiches made with soft chocolate chip cookies—might be a Maine thing, but they make the most refreshing treat no matter where in the world you happen to be.
Bright, fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice stars in this pillowy-soft cake, while mint adds a light touch to the crunchy, sweet glaze that's drizzled over top; the whole thing's as simple as stirring the wet and dry ingredients together, and mixing the glaze in a bowl.
It wouldn't be summer without icebox cake, and this s'mores-inspired version is one of our all-time favorites. It's got all the usual suspects—graham crackers and marshmallows—plus a homemade chocolate pudding that stands in for a Hershey's bar.
This berry-filled summer pudding from our co-founder, Merrill Stubbs, couldn't be easier to make. You'll need just white bread, sugar, summer berries, and heavy cream, which soak overnight and transform into a layered, fragrant sponge cake.
It should come as no surprise that this Genius whipped, citrusy pie is one of our most popular of all time. Clocking in at just eight ingredients (including butter, sugar, and salt), it's unbelievably easy (some might even call it lazy) and tastes just like summer.
Bring on the nostalgia this Fourth of July with these blackberry and yogurt ice pops that look just like the rocket pops you had every summer as a kid.
If you're really hoping to impress your friends and family, make them this gorgeous strawberry-lime crostata. The lime zest and juice (instead of the more typical rhubarb) brings out the sweetness of in-season strawberries and matches up nicely with the buttery crust.