Photo of a bowl of mixed berries

A summer of desserts

Four delectable fruit desserts to enjoy all summer long
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These recipes follow the Canadian fruit harvest, starting with spring rhubarb and strawberries, and continuing through summer cherries, blueberries and peaches. They are generously sized — perfect for families or to take to the cottage or camp — and leftovers make welcome encores.

The Very Best Rhubarb Strawberry Crisp
Start the summer with a popular twosome, rhubarb and strawberries, in a classic crisp. Beloved by pros and baking novices alike, crisps are the simplest of recipes, and this one’s dashing red colour, unapologetic juiciness, balance of sweet and tangy and crunchy topping make it simply ravishing. But enough — just bake it!

1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
¹/3 cup (75 mL) all-purpose flour
½ tsp (2 mL) ground cinnamon
6 cups (1.5 L) sliced fresh rhubarb or
thawed frozen rhubarb
4 cups (1 L) halved strawberries

1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
¾ cup (175 mL) packed light brown sugar
½ cup (125 mL) butter, softened
½ cup (125 mL) slivered almonds, optional

Set out a 12- x 8-inch (3 L) glass baking dish or a shallow ovenproof baking dish with a 12-cup (3 L) capacity on a large rimmed baking dish. With the rack in the centre, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

Filling: In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon. Add the rhubarb and strawberries. Toss to mix; scrape into the
baking dish, levelling the top.

Topping: In a smaller bowl, use a fork to
combine the flour and sugar; work in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. Mix in the almonds, if using. Sprinkle evenly over the filling.

Bake until golden brown on top, bubbly around the edges and the fruit is tender, about 1 hour. Serve hot or warm, or let cool on a rack. (Make-ahead: Store at room temperature for up to 8 hours; reheat to serve.)

Makes 10 generous servings.

(500 mL) of the strawberries with fresh or thawed frozen blueberries.

Peach Pudding
This delicious, easy dessert is in the pudding cake family. These treats start with layers of fruit and cake batter, which are covered with a hot syrup that, once in the oven, does a culinary somersault, producing cake on top and pudding-sauce underneath. The fresh Canadian touch is sliced peaches, but the same quantity of nectarines, apricots or apples would make tasty variations.

Batter and Fruit
4 cups (1 L) sliced peeled peaches
¼ cup (60 mL) butter
1 large egg, at room temperature
½ cup (125 mL) milk, at room temperature
1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
½ cup (125 mL) granulated sugar
2 tsp (10 mL) baking powder
½ tsp (2 mL) grated nutmeg
¼ tsp (1 mL) salt

1 cup (250 mL) packed light brown sugar
1 tbsp (15 mL) all-purpose flour
1½ cups (375 mL) water
1 tbsp (15 mL) butter
2 tsp (10 mL) grated lemon zest
2 tbsp (30 mL) fresh lemon juice

Butter the bottom and sides of an 8-inch (2 L) square metal baking pan or a similar-sized heatproof baking dish with an 8-cup (2 L) capacity. Place the pan on a rimmed baking sheet and set aside. With the rack in the centre, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

Batter and Fruit: Layer the peaches in the baking dish; set aside. Melt the butter in a medium bowl over simmering water; let cool. Whisk in the egg, then the milk. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg and salt. Pour the butter mixture over the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon just until the batter is smooth. Spoon over the peaches, smoothing the top; set aside.

Sauce: In a medium saucepan, stir together the brown sugar and flour. Add the water. Bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce the heat to medium and boil gently until syrupy, about 5 minutes. Stir in the butter, lemon zest and juice. Pour all over the batter. Do not stir.

Bake until a skewer inserted into the centre of the pudding comes out clean, and the sauce bubbles around the edges, 30 to 40 minutes. Enjoy hot, or let cool on a rack and serve while still warm and saucy. (Make-ahead: Let cool completely. Cover and store at room temperature for up to 1 day. Reheat to serve.)

Makes 8 servings.

Pat-in-Pastry Blueberry Tart
With blueberries, the baker has a choice of two varieties: low-bush wild or high-bush cultivated. While wild blueberries are renowned for the intensity of their flavour, they are pricey and often harder to find than cultivated. Luckily, both are great candidates for this tart, which features a filling made with a clever mix of fresh and cooked berries. And you don’t have to worry rolling out pastry, either!

Pat-in Pastry
1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (60 mL) ground almonds
3 tbsp (45 mL) icing sugar
Pinch salt
2/3 cup (150 mL) cold butter, cubed

Blueberry Filling
2/3 cup (150 mL) granulated sugar
2 tbsp (30 mL) cornstarch
Pinch salt
½ cup (125 mL) cold water
1 tsp (5 mL) grated lemon zest
4 cups (1 L) fresh blueberries, divided
2 tbsp (30 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) butter

¼ cup (60 mL) sliced almonds
1 cup (250 mL) 35% whipping cream
½ cup (125 mL) plain 2% Greek yogurt
1 tbsp (15 mL) icing sugar
¼ tsp (1 mL) almond extract

Set out a 10-inch (25 cm) tart pan with a removable bottom. With the rack in the centre, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

Pat-in Pastry: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, ground almonds, sugar and salt. Add the butter and, with a pastry blender or fingertips, work in until the mixture is crumbly. Using your hands, press small handfuls of the mixture at a time into pieces of dough that hold together. Press the dough, small amounts at a time, up the side of the pan, then over the bottom. Smooth the surface.

With a fork, prick the pastry at 1-inch (2.5 cm) intervals, and then line with foil. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until the pastry is crisp and light sandy in colour, about 12 minutes. Let cool on a rack. (Make-ahead: Store at room temperature for up to 4 hours. Or wrap and enclose in an airtight container and freeze for up to 2 weeks. Unwrap and let thaw at room temperature before filling.)

Blueberry Filling: In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Whisk in the water and lemon zest until smooth; mix in 2 cups (500 mL) of the blueberries. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat; cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is deep blue, glossy and thick, about 6 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and butter. Let cool slightly, about 5 minutes.

Gently stir in the remaining blueberries. Spoon filling evenly into the prepared crust. Refrigerate
until set, about 1 hour. (Make-ahead: Refrigerate for up to 8 hours.)

Topping: In a dry skillet over medium heat, lightly toast the almonds; remove from the skillet and let cool. Beat the cream to stiff peaks. Whisk in the yogurt, icing sugar and almond extract. Pipe or spoon decoratively over the filling. Sprinkle with toasted almonds. (Make-ahead: The finished tart can wait in the refrigerator for up to 4 hours.)

Makes 8 servings.

Raspberry-Blueberry Tart: Replace 1 cup (250 mL) of the fresh blueberries folded into the cooked filling with fresh raspberries.

Super-Blue Blueberry Tart: Pump up the filling with an additional 1 cup (250 mL) fresh blueberries added to the cooked filling.

Tip: For a more modest whipped cream topping, halve all the ingredients and pipe or spoon the mixture around the edge of the tart. Garnish with
the almonds.

Summer-Easy Panna Cotta with Cherry Compote
This creamy, no-bake Italian dessert plays backup to a fresh cherry compote, which is enhanced with a little zing of balsamic vinegar. Normally, panna cottas are unmoulded onto plates, but you can skip that step and simply serve these right in the ramekins they were made in. You can also serve them in individual bowls, glasses or even demitasse cups. The containers you choose should each hold ½ cup (125 mL) of the panna cotta with extra room on top for the compote.

1 tbsp (15 mL) unflavoured gelatin
3 tbsp (45 mL) cold water
2 cups (500 mL) 35% whipping cream
2/3 cup (150 mL) granulated sugar
2 cups (500 mL) well-shaken buttermilk
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
Cherry Compote, see below

Set eight 1/2-cup (125 mL) or slightly larger ramekins on a tray; set aside.

In a small bowl, stir the gelatin and water until blended. Let stand for up to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, combine the cream and sugar; heat until steaming and sugar has dissolved, stirring a few times. Remove from
the heat. Scrape the gelatin into the sweetened cream and stir until
completely melted. Stir in the buttermilk and vanilla.

Strain into a 4-cup (1 L) liquid measuring cup or spouted pitcher.
Divide the panna cotta mixture evenly among the ramekins. Let cool.
Cover and refrigerate until set, 4 hours. (Make-ahead: Refrigerate for
up to 3 days.) Spoon the Cherry Compote on top to serve.

Makes 8 servings.

Cherry Compote
3 cups (750 mL) pitted sweet cherries, about 18 oz (500 g)
¼ cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
1 tsp (5 mL) grated orange zest
½ cup (125 mL) strained fresh orange juice
1 tsp (5 mL) balsamic vinegar, approximate

In a medium saucepan, bring the cherries, sugar, orange zest and juice
to a simmer, stirring gently. Simmer until cherries are tender, about
5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the cherries to an airtight
container. Boil the liquid until slightly reduced and syrupy, about
3 minutes. Pour over the cherries along with the vinegar. Let cool.
(Make-ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 4 days.) Taste and refresh with a little more balsamic vinegar if desired.

Makes about 1¹/3 cups (325 mL).

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