Tarts, shortcakes and more desserts fit the feeling of summer

Summer's high temperatures lend themselves to certain desserts with a strong baking and pastry component, from strawberry shortcake to ice cream tarts.

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June 18, 2018 4 min read

Summer is well-known as a time for seasonal favorites like cookouts, seafood shacks and cool, refreshing beverages. That’s not all that goes along with the warmest time of year, however. Boulder pastry arts students can draw inspiration from a variety of sources to craft delicious tarts, shortcakes and more. Let’s look at a few examples that can be served today or provide an inspiration for your own creative take on these classics.

A strawberry shortcake served on a plate.Strawberry shortcake is one of many desserts that can taste best with fresh ingredients grown during the summer.

A sweet, chilly and highly customizable dessert

Pastry chefs have long been familiar with the tart, even before the advent of modern cooking – its history stretches all the way back to the Middle Ages. While it’s most commonly associated with fruit fillings in the modern culinary world, the definition of this dessert is surprisingly broad. Outside of having a pastry base and lacking a top crust, a tart can have any sort of filling – even something savory.

The concept of an ice cream tart offers a new take on a treat already regarded as a summertime favorite, mixing in a variety of cool, sweet flavors that help eaters beat the heat. The process isn’t particularly complicated, either. You can make your own shortcrust pastry base or simply blend your choice of cookie in a food processor, then mix in butter, press into the bottom of a pan and freeze before adding ice cream. Martha Stewart offered a simple example of a black-and-white ice cream tart that is endlessly customizable by changing the flavors of cookie and ice cream involved, as well as adding fruit, nuts and other ingredients as a topping or mix-in.

Looking for a more traditional, fruit-based summer tart? Consider this lemon sugar cookie tart recipe from our archives.

A shortcake classic

The strawberry shortcake is an iconic dessert with a history dating back hundreds of years. It’s still served in restaurants, at cookouts and at dinners throughout the year, although its most popular period is by far during the summer. The mix of macerated berries, sweet syrup, shortcake and whipped cream or ice cream are cool, refreshing and evoke a time when fresh fruits can be used to their fullest.

Bon Appetit’s strawberry shortcake recipe offers a classic take on the process of creating this widely loved standard, with a focus on fresh ingredients and from-scratch cake bases. You can use this recipe as is or make it your own with a variety of substitutions. If you have the capacity, a house-made ice cream could substitute for the whipped cream, and you can experiment with using other fruits – or a mix including  strawberries – to make your own mark on this dish.

A year-round cake favorite

Some desserts are so good that they’re eaten year-round, no matter the temperature outside or setting for the meal. Chocolate cake is one of those widely enjoyed favorites, mixing cocoa flavor across both moist, firm cake and sweet, thick frosting to provide bite after bite of enjoyment. You can draw on this list of many different types of chocolate cake for initial inspiration or a firm plan for what you intend on serving to your diners.

To dress up this recipe for summer, consider adding a cool component by serving with an ice cream. A more substantial change can come from using fresh fruits to craft a puree or sauce that’s served along with the cake. You can also focus on presentation by decorating with strawberries, raspberries and other fruits that pair similarly well with the flavor of chocolate.

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