sweets for summer snackin
June 17, 2019 1:27 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for summer dessert ideas that are elegant in their simplicity. Something a bit unexpected, maybe just a smidge on the fancy side – but not too fussy or overdone. (This is for an upcoming potluck.)

Example: lemon panna cotta with a blueberry-cassis coulis. It's a pretty simple dish – but (in my neck of the woods, at least) one rarely encounters panna cotta. So it has a certain "ooo, what's this?" factor. And it's served cold, so it's great on a hot day.

Something that uses fresh fruit that's in season (in July in the mideastern US) could be nice – but that's not a requirement.

Other than that – this is wide open. Whatever dessert you're thinking about right now is the one I want to hear about. Go! 🍮
posted by escape from the potato planet to Food & Drink (37 answers total) 49 users marked this as a favorite
One of my friends wowed a potluck with "Nantucket strawberries" - this was just fresh ripe strawberries, a bowl of sour cream, and a bowl of dark brown sugar. You dip the berry in the sour cream and give it a light roll in sugar. The complexity of flavor is pretty great.
posted by Miko at 1:32 PM on June 17 [10 favorites]

Any summer fruit...mangos, watermelon, peaches... Is delicious sliced and sprinkled with Tajin seasoning, which is probably in the "ethnic/Mexican" section of the supermarket. Spicy, sour, and salty! You can grill the fruit first for extra yum.
posted by EmilyFlew at 1:32 PM on June 17 [7 favorites]

A Victoria Sandwich is always nice, dead simple to make, fruity, and pretty if you dress it up.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:35 PM on June 17 [2 favorites]

Pavlova, they are easy, delicious and pretty. Or an Eton Mess if it doesn't hold together well.
posted by jennstra at 1:36 PM on June 17 [13 favorites]

Smitten Kitchen has a lot of desserts that fit this ask. This lemon tart is one of my favorites. It’s easy to make, and can be dressed up with berries or cream, or just a bit of powdered sugar.
posted by Maeve at 1:37 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]

Ripe strawberries (lightly macerated), good vanilla ice cream, and a drizzle of the fancy balsamic vinegar that comes in the little bottle. Heaven.
posted by Weeping_angel at 1:37 PM on June 17

Similar to Weeping angel's suggestion, but minus the ice cream:

really good strawberries, a little bit of raw or brown sugar, basil (chiffonade), and a really really good balsamic (the stuff from Modena, for example).

This is classically French, incredibly refreshing, and just delicious.
posted by cooker girl at 1:41 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]

I don't know if this counts as a drink or a dessert, but a Sgroppino is a glass of Prosecco with a scoop of lemon sorbet in it. Various sites tell you to fancy it up with a shot of vodka, limoncello, etc, but really all you need is Prosecco (chilled) and lemon sorbet (preferably not too sweet). Garnish with a sprig of mint or lemon balm if you have them.
posted by Pallas Athena at 1:42 PM on June 17 [6 favorites]

Grilled peaches and/or pineapple. Just slap 'em down on the grill for a minute or two. Maybe sprinkle some brown sugar on 'em if you want.
posted by bondcliff at 1:47 PM on June 17 [2 favorites]

These are fun if your patience and knife skills are up to the task, and it looks a little classier than the mixed salad version of same.
posted by ftm at 1:48 PM on June 17

This mango, blueberry and ginger fruit salad is simple with a somewhat unexpected flavor combination that elevates it somehow.
posted by kittydelsol at 1:53 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]

A sweet watermelon gazpacho.
posted by Candleman at 1:57 PM on June 17

Figs with goat cheese and honey! Take a fig and slice it nearly to the base in a cross pattern, put a little dollop of goat cheese in the cut and drizzle with honey. Can also be used as an appetizer by adding chunky cracked pepper or Aleppo pepper.
posted by gregr at 2:02 PM on June 17 [5 favorites]

I love to make a simple "stone fruit salad" with any combo of cherries, peaches, and nectarines chopped, a bit of lemon juice (to keep the colors bright), and just enough good (full-fat, but unsweetened) yogurt. Add some granola and you breakfast!
posted by dbmcd at 2:08 PM on June 17

Summer pudding is a fantastic dessert. Easy to make, highlights fresh berries, and absolutely to die for if you substitute the plain white bread with an enriched bread like brioche or challah. My mom saves panettone from Christmas time to make her summer puddings and it's oh so good.
posted by burntflowers at 2:09 PM on June 17 [4 favorites]

I love this spicy Thai fruit salad.

From the same part of the world, sticky rice with mango is also damn good.
posted by praemunire at 2:15 PM on June 17

Speaking of Smitten Kitchen, I love these Almond Rhubarb bars. The chevron pattern with the rhubarb is the right level of effort (minimal) to look fancy and they are perfect summer desserts: sweet, tart, and cold.
posted by damayanti at 2:19 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]

Zabaglione with strawberries (or raspberries).
posted by ourobouros at 2:22 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]

I love Pavlova with fresh whipped cream and raspberries on top. This is eaten cold, put the wc and berries in just before serving. I make mine about 1 1/2 inches thick, so not too thick. Once cooked I cut it up into portion sizes pieces and then add the wc and berries. It's apt less messy this way. Garnish tray with fresh mint.
posted by waving at 2:35 PM on June 17 [2 favorites]

Strawberry shortcake with local ripe berries.
Homemade ice cream and/or ices and/or gelato, with a shortbread cookie.
I have made both Pavlova and strawberries and Eton Mess with great results.
Anything with lemon curd and/or fruit, so yellow cake layered with lemon curd, topped with whipped cream & berries.
Pie. I am putting net on my cherry tree in hopes of homemade, homegrown cherry pie. Peach pie or crisp is delicious. If i get tired of those, I will learn to make pear tart.

For anyone who can't eat dairy, the ReddiWip almond is quite good, and the coconut is a bit oversweet but still good, and it's nice to have an alternative.
posted by theora55 at 2:43 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]

Mango Fool is pretty easy and so tasty.

Mango Fool
3 cups ripe mango puree, sieved
1 Tablespoon lime juice
1/2 cup sugar
3 cups stiffly whipped cream, chilled.

Combine mango puree, lime juice, and sugar; chill thoroughly.
Just before serving, fold whipped cream into mango mixture. Blend lightly so that mixture has streaks of cream and mango.
posted by gudrun at 2:55 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]

Instead of Pavlova, make or buy individual meringue nests and take those, some whipped cream and some berries to your event. (If you make them in advance they get soggy).

Dollop the cream into each nest, fill with berries. Very classy, pretty, tasty, and very easy.
posted by lollusc at 3:16 PM on June 17

Grilled ripe peaches, cut side down. These are amazing, but the peaches must be perfectly ripe.

Juicy ripe strawberries drizzled with excellent aged balsamic vinegar

Curls of wonderful parmesan cheese (curled with a vegetable peeler) artfully piled on a beautiful plate and drizzled with wonderful honey.

Trifle, slightly cheating with bought pound cake, ladyfingers, or angel cake. You redeem this cheat with homemade lemon curd, and layer slices or cubes of cake, berries (whatever is in season and relatively cheap at the farmer's market), pouring lemon curd sparingly between layers. Traditional trifle also requires drizzling the cake with sherry or another fortified wine, but if the cake is not dry you can skip this step, rendering it suitable for children. Top with lightly sweetened whipped cream. Extravagant and can be made entirely ahead, apart from the whipped cream. This is an absolutely fabulous dish for a pot-luck or picnic. You can spend a lot of time being gloriously artistic arranging the cake and berries beautifully against the side of a glass dish - again, traditional - but your guests will be blown away whatever dish you choose.
posted by citygirl at 3:33 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]

Homemade plum ice cream because it's so vibrantly pink.
posted by vunder at 3:40 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]

A medley of grapefruit, oranges and blood oranges, peel removed and sliced into wheels, arranged on a platter. Drizzle with rose water and sprinkle a tiny bit of grated nutmeg on them.
posted by Liesl at 3:44 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]

Strawberries sliced and marinated in balsamico. Serve with or without whipped cream or marscapone (or even ricotta). Trust me, it's better than it sounds.
posted by Quisp Lover at 3:46 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]

Simple syrup, orange juice, vanilla and mint make an easy dressing for sprucing up fruit salads.
posted by eponym at 3:48 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]

Liesl’s suggestion reminded me of this recipe for orange slices with honey and cinnamon, which I have never made but want to.
posted by Weeping_angel at 3:52 PM on June 17

Icebox cake
posted by decathexis at 4:09 PM on June 17 [2 favorites]

Forgotten Cake!

It's essentially a pavlova. Top it with whipped cream and some macerated berries on the side.
posted by brookeb at 4:54 PM on June 17

A fruit plate with a combo of frosted grapes, blood oranges drizzled with rosemary honey, and some sort of strawberry/balsamic arrangement.
posted by jessamyn at 5:23 PM on June 17

Peach melba is a classic. I think the peaches are better grilled than poached.

And nthing strawberries with balsamic as a sophisticated but super-simple option.
posted by potrzebie at 9:27 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]

This brown sugar bourbon peach shortcake has been a hit every time I've made it. It's one large shortcake (instead of individually-sized biscuits) and it's pretty easy to make and transport all the elements separately and then assemble on-site. Most of the time I don't even bother to cook the peaches as the recipe indicates; I just slice them up and let them macerate for a little while in the bourbon and sugar.
posted by karayel at 10:07 PM on June 17

  • Chè thái
  • Thach (suong sa) ca phe - coffee/coconut agar agar jelly; don’t have to make so many thin layers
  • Avocado halves or slices drizzled with condensed milk and sprinkled with crushed peanuts
  • Assortment of ‘fancier’ fruit such as star fruit, dragon fruit, lychee, rambutan, jackfruit, longan — in a carved watermelon basket
  • Stone fruit caprese salad?
  • Goi cuon summer rolls with shredded (with mandolin) fruit — e.g. (green) mango, apple, peach — and mint or basil with sweet peanut or honey sauce (and salt flakes)??

posted by eyeball at 2:34 AM on June 18

Another idea: mille crepe cake with whipped cream and thinly sliced fruit like strawberries or kiwi. Nobody has to know if you use store-bought crepes.
posted by eyeball at 2:47 AM on June 18 [1 favorite]

Mango float! https://www.manilaspoon.com/2013/07/extra-special-mango-float.html More than the sum of its parts :)
posted by hellomiss at 5:02 AM on June 18

Ice cream sandwiches aren't as nice as a lot of the suggestions here, but they're pretty great even if you get inexpensive cookies and plain ice cream. You can also fancy it up with more expensive and unusual elements. Make ahead of time, wrap in parchment or waxed paper, and stick in the freezer.
posted by bunderful at 5:19 AM on June 18 [2 favorites]

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