Chatelaine Kitchen

4 tips for effortless summer desserts

With a few tricks and planning tips, adding homemade dessert to the menu is a breeze.

Peach melba.Photo, Roberto Caruso.

Grilled peach melba. (Photo, Roberto Caruso.)

Entertaining in the summer can be pretty simple, and the warm weather lends itself perfectly to easy summer desserts that will thrill and delight taste buds. Start by with firing up the grill for fish, ribs, burgers or veggies, and finish with vibrant fruits, cool treats or gorgeous make-ahead confections. So invite over your neighbours and throw a simple backyard barbecue — keeping in mind these four tips for effortless summer desserts:

1. Just add whipped cream.
Make use of the bounty of berries and stone fruits available. This is one of the simplest desserts you can serve because many fruits are at their peak, which means they are sure to be packed with flavour. Just dress them up with a dollop of chilled whipped cream. Dairy-free? Toss your favourite summer fruits with a lime-ginger drizzle for a colourful fruit salad.

Tip: Stay on top of what produce is available with this guide to summer fruits and vegetables.


2. Use the grill for dessert, too.
The barbecue isn’t only meant for the main event — you can also throw fruit on for a simple dessert. When grilling fruit, opt for firmer fruits that will stand up to grilling — such as peaches, nectarines, watermelon and pineapple. The heat will caramelize their natural sugars, resulting in sweeter, more flavourful fruit.

Try it:
Grilled nectarine crumble
Grilled peach sundaes

Tip: To avoid fruits sticking to the grates, brush the flesh lightly with neutral oil, such as canola, before grilling.


3. Go for frozen.
On the hottest days of summer, frozen desserts are the way to go. Keep things simple with three-ingredient ice cream, or try your hand at old-fashioned vanilla. Then, all you need are a few decadent toppings, and you can let your guests dress their sundaes to the nines. If you’re planning a huge spread for the main meal, sorbet is a light palate cleanser — and a refreshing end to the evening.

Tip: If you’re making a classic homemade ice cream and find it’s getting too firm in the freezer, try adding a touch of alcohol prior to churning. Since alcohol doesn’t freeze, this will keep your ice cream on the creamy side.


4. Save time with no-bake desserts.
These recipes will keep your oven off and your kitchen cool; plus — no matter how high the temperature rises — you’ll still have a delicious dessert for after dinner. No-bake desserts often need to be made ahead of time to ensure proper chilling and freezing, but this means you can prep your dessert a day or two in advance. This will keep your prep minimal the day-of, and leave you more time with your guests, if you’re entertaining. Try out our no-bake summer fruit tarts for a show-stopping dessert.

Tip: No-bake desserts can take hours to chill — read the entire recipe ahead of time for perfect results.

31 dead-simple ice cream recipes
22 of our favourite summer pies and tarts
8 delicious banana desserts


Watch: Chatelaine Quickies: Chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream