Whether sweet and chocolaty, delicate and creamy or bursting with ripe fruit, summer’s best desserts should come together with minimal heat and sweat. Keep a few versatile ingredients on hand and it’s easy to transform great fruits or simple ice creams or sorbets into celebrations. Here are my six top picks for indulging:
Chocolate chips—Quick-melting, easy-sprinkling and ready to turn almost any mix of dried fruits and nuts into an irresistible trail mix. And don’t forget white chocolate chips, a great match for bold fruits like peaches and cherries. Next time you’re grilling, try this recipe for Grilled Bananas with Sweet Toppings opens in a new tab.
Everything coconut!—Coconut water, coconut milk, coconut oil and shredded coconut—even the names pack a tropical breeze. This versatile nut loves the limelight and is perfect for cool desserts. Enjoy it in this light ice cream look-alike opens in a new tab.
Gelatin—Refreshing, jewel-like desserts start with a little unflavored gelation and a great base of fruit juices, wines or even tea. Molded gelatin desserts are a great way to show off summer’s best fruits and berries, like in this easy Minty Blueberry Peach Shiver opens in a new tab.
Greek yogurt—Rich, luscious, protein-packed Greek yogurt makes a lighter topping than cream for fresh fruits and summer tarts, and it’s also an ideal base for dessert parfaits. Let it star in recipes like this tangy, fruity and refreshing Lemonade Ice with Whipped Yogurt opens in a new tab.
Prepared caramel sauce—Not just for ice cream! A drizzle of caramel (or its Spanish-inflected cousin dulce de leche) can take grilled stone fruits from simple to sublime, dress up slices of store-bought angel food and pound cakes or add gooey goodness to homemade shakes, like these caramel swirled treats opens in a new tab.
Sodas—Who can resist a frosty float on a sweltering day? From Italian orange to artisan root beer, today’s high-quality sodas are a wonderful base for refreshing ice cream or sorbet floats. You can even go decadent with an easy, fruit-filled variety opens in a new tab.
What are your must-have ingredients for summer desserts? Share your favorites in the comment section below.