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Food52's Creative Ways with Fresh Berries

Though it's hard to make a pint of fresh berries last for more than a couple of minutes here at Food52, we’re willing to resist snacking if it means later digging into a berry pudding, popsicle, or ice cream – even more so if the recipe shows a bit of creativity. We’re not dissing the simple joy of a lip-staining berry pie, but once you get a load of these inventive approaches to the jewel-like fruits, you’ll have a hard time going back to summertime standards.

Recipe: Balsamic Strawberry Ice Cream and Dark Chocolate Cookie Sandwiches

Paired with regular sugar cookies, strawberry ice cream sandwiches taste like strawberry shortcake in hand-held, frozen form. Taken up a creative notch with balsamic-strawberry ice cream and intensely dark chocolate cookies, these sandwiches are sure to make new, happy memories.

Photo by Kris Hoogerhyde and Anne Walker 

Recipe:  Berry Summer Pudding

If you've never had Summer Pudding, now's the time. It couldn't be easier to make -- you just line a bowl with some white bread (stale is fine), fill it with berries and a little sugar, top off with more bread, and weight it down overnight. 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.

Photo by James Ransom

Recipe: Blackberry, Rosemary, and Yogurt Popsicles

Kids like to witness transformation, which is why they enjoy baking so much. But when it’s too hot to turn on the oven, it’s the freezer’s turn to do the transforming. Here, a fresh berry puree sweetened with rosemary syrup is frozen in the molds before a layer of vanilla yogurt fills in the remaining space. We can’t imagine a better way to cool down.

Photo by James Ransom

Recipe: Cherry Jam with Lemon-Pepper Shortbread

This brilliant dessert is like a deconstructed Linzer torte. Instead of jam embedded in a shortbread dough, it's spooned on top -- which means you can make both components ahead of time (up to 2 days) and assemble them to serve. In fact, you should make the shortbread at least a day ahead because the lemon and pepper come out of hibernation with a little sitting.

Photo by Sarah Shatz

Recipe: Wild Berry Basil Panna Cotta

Barely sweetened with sugar and infused with a mere whisper of basil, we love the confidence of this panna cotta -- when fresh berries are good, there's no need to shout about it! But this recipe has a few more tricks up its sleeve, deftly employing sour cream for tang and whipped cream to lift the pudding. We used a tart mix of blackberries, raspberries, black currants and gooseberries; you should buy the best berries you can find and add sugar to taste.

Photo by Sarah Shatz

Recipe: Raspberry Custard Cups

These custard cups are the brilliant lovechild of raspberry cheesecake and crème brulée. You fold tangy cream cheese into an egg-and-flour-enriched custard, which is then studded with plump whole raspberries and covered in a cap of rich brown sugar. We’re told to brulée the custard, and then sprinkle the sugar on top; but we found that popping the ramekins back into the oven for a few minutes gave us that crisp shell we craved. The choice is yours -- they're silky and delicious either way.

Photo by James Ransom

How do you prepare summer’s best berries in creative and surprising ways? Share your comments below!