Enjoy fresh fruit throughout the summer

Try a new way to enjoy everything from raspberries to plums in seasonal desserts that will tickle your taste buds

    Summertime is the perfect time to enjoy the fruits of the orchard — berries, peaches, plums and other lucious fruit fresh off the trees and bushes.
    Not only is fruit delicious in season, it is a cool way to top off a warm summer day.
    A favorite way to enjoy these fruits is in a dessert. You can enjoy them in their raw state or enhance the flavor with whipped cream, a balsamic drizzle or a simple glaze. Or dip them in a simple sprup or melted chocolate.
    Macerate your fruit to soften and sweeten it.  The term may not be familiar to you, but all it really means is to soak the fruit in sugar to help draw out the juices. Stir the fruit into yogurt or ice cream or eat it straight.
    Grill fruit to caramelize the sugars and add a smokey flavor.
    Make a jam and use it on more than just toast. Slather it between the layers of a cake or dollop it on a s’more. Melt it and brush it on a fruit tart or swirl it into ice cream.
    Or you can bake them into everything from cobblers to tarts to crisps and cheesecakes. Use refrigerator pie dough or frozen puff pastry to make the dessert even simpler.
    And if the hot weather means you don’t want to turn on the oven, try making a dessert in a slow cooker. It will give you a moist, tasty dessert without heating up the kitchen.
    Following are a few summer fruit desserts from foodnetwork.com.



Boozy Cherry-Chocolate Pies

3/4 cup turbinado sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1/2 cup light rum
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
Kosher salt
3 pounds Bing cherries, pitted and halved
3 tablespoons cornstarch
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1-1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
Flour, for dusting
1-1/2 14-ounce packages refrigerated piecrust dough
Heavy cream, for brushing
Vanilla ice cream, for serving

    Whisk sugar, rum, vanilla, orange zest and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl until the sugar dissolves. Add cherries and cornstarch and toss. Set aside for about 30 minutes, until juicy.
    Place six five-to-six-inch ceramic tart dishes on a baking sheet that’s lined with foil and coated with cooking spray. Add 3/4 cup cherries to each dish using a slotted spoon. Top each with one tablespoon butter and two teaspoons chocolate.
    Transfer remaining cherry mixture to a saucepan. Add 1/2 cup water and simmer over medium heat for five to seven minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Divide among the tart pans and cool completely.
    Dust a surface with flour. Using a paring knife, cut six circles from the piecrust, 1/2 inch bigger than the tart dishes. Place on another baking sheet and chill.
    Top each dish with a piece of dough, pressing the edge against the dish to seal. Pierce the piecrust several times with a knife. Bake on a rack in the lower third of a 375-degree oven for 45 minutes, then brush each pie with heavy cream and sprinkle with sugar. Continue baking about 15 minutes more, until golden. Serve with ice cream.

Slow-Cooker Brown Sugar Cheesecake

12 graham crackers, broken in half
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon lightly packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch fine salt
3 large eggs, room temperature
3 small ripe peaches, pitted and cut in to 1/4-inch wedges

    Loosely roll a 20-inch long piece of aluminum foil into a one-inch cylinder. Form a seven-inch diameter ring with the foil. Fill a six-quart slow cooker with 1/2 inch of water and place the foil ring in the bottom.
    Place graham crackers in a food processor and process until finely ground. Add four tablespoons melted butter and pulse until mixture looks like wet sand. Brush the inside of an eight-inch springform pan with the remaining butter. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan and one-third of the way up the sides. Use the bottom of a round drinking glass to help press the crumb mixture into the pan.
    Place cream cheese, 1 cup brown sugar, sour cream, vanilla and salt in the food processor. Blend until very smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add eggs, pulsing until smooth and uniform. Pour filling into the crust.
    Gently place the cheesecake on the foil ring in the slow cooker. Drape a double layer of paper towels over the opening of the slow cooker and place the lid over the paper towels, making sure the ends of the paper towels extend out of the lid. Cook on low heat for fourt hours, until cheesecake is just set but still jiggles slightly when the pan is moved.
    Turn off the heat and remove the lid. Wipe the inside of the lid and replace the paper towels with new paper towels. Cover the slow cooker and cool the cake in the slow cooker for two to three hours.
    Remove cheesecake, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for three hours to three days.
    One hour before serving, place peaches in a mixing bowl with the remaining brown sugar. Toss to combine and macerate at least one hour, stirring occasionally.
    Run a small knife around the edge of the cheesecake and remove the outer ring of the pan. Spoon peaches and juices over the cheesecake to serve.

Blueberry Peach Cobbler

1 prepared pie crust sheet
2 1-pound bags frozen peaches, slightly thawed and coarsely chopped
1 pint fresh blueberries
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
Sugar cubes, crushed for dusting

    Roll pastry to fit a two-quart oval baking dish.
    In a large bowl, combine peaches and blueberries. Mix in flour, sugar, nutmeg, vanilla and butter cubes. Pour into the baking dish and cover with pastry. Using a fork, cut off excess dough and create a decorative edge by pressing tines of a fork along edge of pan and pushing down. Cut three slices in top of the pastry. Brush with egg wash and dust with sugar. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 45 to 50 minutes, until golden brown on top and edges are bubbling.


Toasted Pound Cake With Strawberries and Chocolate Cream

1 cup cold heavy cream
1/4 cup chocolate syrup, plus more for drizzling
1 quart strawberries
2 tablespoons sugar
2 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 slices pound cake

    Beat heavy cream and chocolate syrup in a bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed about three minutes, until soft peaks form. Refrigerate.
    Hull and chop all but six strawberries. Toss with sugar in a bowl. Set aside.
    Melt chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl on medium-high power for about two minutes, in 30-second intervals, stirring, until smooth. Dip the six whole berries in the chocolate, transfer to a sheet of parchment paper and let cool.
    Heat two tablespoons butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add pound cake slices and cook two to three minutes per side, until golden brown. Transfer to a plate.
    Wipe out skillet and melt the remaining butter. Add chopped strawberries and 1 tablespoon water and cook about two minutes, until juicy.
    Drizzle chocolate syrup on each plate, then top each with a piece of pound cake. Add chopped strawberries and their juices, a dollop of chocolate whipped cream and a chocolate-covered strawberry and serve.


Balsamic Strawberries

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 bayleaf
1 cup marscapone cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
3 pints quartered strawberries

    Boil balsamic vinegar with honey, bay leaf and a pinch of salt about four minutes, until thick. Discard the bay leaf and let the syrup cool.
    Beat mascarpone, heavy cream, sugar and vanilla with a mixer until soft peaks form. Toss strawberries with half of the balsamic syrup.
    Serve with the mascarpone mixture and the remaining syrup.

Italian Fruit Toast

Eight 1/4-inch slices ciabatta, cut on the bias
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups ricotta, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups mixed fresh berries or fruit of your choice
Honey, for drizzling
Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling

    Brush ciabatta slices on both sides with olive oil, then sprinkle both sides with 1/4 cup sugar, gently rubbing it in.
    Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Place sugared bread in the skillet and cook about two minutes per side, until golden brown and caramelized on both sides. Remove to a wire rack to cool briefly.
    In a medium bowl, mix ricotta, vanilla and the remaining sugar with a rubber spatula. Divide mixture among the toast and spread evenly. Top with berries, drizzle with honey and sprinkle with flaky sea salt.


Lemon Raspberry Tarts

For curd:
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
3 medium lemons, zested and juiced
3 tablespoons butter
For raspberry sauce:
1 pint raspberries
2 tablespoons sugar
For tarts:
12 frozen phyllo tart shells
1/2 cup heavy cream
Splash vanilla extract
12 small fresh mint leaves

    To make curd, whisk together sugar and eggs in a heatproof bowl until sugar is completely dissolved. Reserve one teaspoon of the lemon zest for garnish, then stir lemon juice and remaining zest into the sugar-egg mixture. Put bowl over a double boiler and cook six to eight minutes, whisking, until thickened. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter. Scrape into a clean bowl. Press plastic wrap onto the surface of the curd and refrigerate at least two hours.
    Reserve 12 raspberries for garnish and put the rest into a small pan. Add sugar and cook over medium-low heat, breaking up berries to release the juices. Do not let boil. Strain juice into a bowl and let cool.Discard solids.
    Put the phyllo shells on a baking sheet and bake in s 350-degree oven for three to five minutes, until lightly browned. Place shells on a rack to cool.
    Spoon a small amount of raspberry sauce into each tart shell. Whisk cream with one to two spoons raspberry sauce and a splash of vanilla. Fill each shell with the lemon curd, then top with a dollop of whipped cream and a whole raspberry. Sprinkle with reserved lemon zest and add a mint leaf.

Blueberry-Nectarine Crisp

For filling:
2 pints blueberries
5 nectarines, peeled, pitted and cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 cup sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup cornstarch
For topping:
1-1/4 cups whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Kosher salt
1-1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Ice cream or whipped cream, for serving

    For filling, combine blueberries, nectarines, granulated sugar, lemon zest and cornstarch in a large bowl. Place mixture in a wide shallow baking dish  or eight one-cup ramekins. Set aside.
    In a food processor, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and a pinch of salt and pulse. Add butter and vanilla and pulse, until the mixture looks dry and crumbly. Add one tablespoon water and pulse until the mixture starts to come together. If the mixture still seems dry, add one more tablespoon water and pulse again. Sprinkle topping over the blueberry mixture.
    Bake in a 350-degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until the filling is hot and bubbly and the topping is crispy and browned. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.


Grilled Peaches and Cream

8 peaches
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter
2/3 cup sour cream
2/3 cup cold heavy cream
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Candied pecans

    Halve and pit peaches. Toss with light brown sugar and melted butter. Grill over medium-high heat for two to three minutes per side, until marked.
    Whisk sour cream and cold heavy cream with brown sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Dollop whipped cream on the peaches and top with candied pecans.


Roasted Stone Fruit

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 to 4 pounds stone fruit, such as peaches, plums and apricots, pitted and cut into big equal-sized chunks
Two 3-inch cinnamon sticks
1 cup ruby port
Freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 pint vanilla ice cream

    Butter the inside of a medium cast-iron skillet. Add fruit and cinnamon sticks, port and a few grinds of pepper. Sprinkle brown sugar on top. Roast in a 425-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until the fruit is soft. Discard cinnamon sticks and serve with ice cream.

Strawberry Cobbler

For filling:
1/3 cup strawberry jam
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 pounds strawberries, hulled and quartered
For biscuit topping:
1-3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Vanilla ice cream, for serving

    Whisk together jam, cornstarch, sugar, lemon juice and 2 tablespoons water in a large bowl until well combined. Add strawberries and toss gently to coat evenly. Transfer mixture to a two-quart baking or gratin dish, using a spatula to gently pack the fruit into an even layer. Set aside.
    Pulse together flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder and salt in a food processor. Add butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 3/4 cup cream and vanilla and pulse until dough just starts to come together. Do not over mix.
    Spread dough evenly over the strawberries, drizzle with the remaining cream and sprinkle with the remaining sugar.
    Place cobbler on a baking sheet and bake in a 375-degree oven for one hour, until the topping is lightly browned and the fruit is bubbling. Let the cobbler cool completely before serving with vanilla ice cream.




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