So here’s the funny thing about this recipe. I was reading a cookbook the other day and saw a recipe for a lemon fool. I immediately thought, how fun, I’ll make a fool for April Fools… Here’s where it gets interesting, the difference between a fool and an eton mess is simple: crumbled meringue cookies. So here I am in my kitchen, whipping up some cream, folding in some lemon curd and crumbling cookies…turns out, I made Eton Mess (this is not the first time this has happened). Whose the fool now?

Lemon Eton Mess (inspired by Nigella Lawson)

Serves 4, generously

2 cups heavy cream

1-2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons limoncello (optional)

1 cup lemon curd

1 cup crumbled meringue cookies, or more if desired

In a large bowl whip heavy cream to soft peaks. Add sugar and limoncello and continue whipping till you’ve achieved stiff peaks. Gently fold lemon curd into the whipped cream until the cream is streaked with ribbons of curd. Carefully spoon “the mess” into parfait glasses or bowls. Sprinkle with desired amount of crumbled meringue. Serve cold and enjoy.

 

Blood oranges are not in season for very long but my land are they lovely and delicious.

If you’ve never had blood oranges before, they are not as harshly acidic as regular oranges and have a mellow, earthy, subtly sweet flavor that is really fantastic. There are many ways to enjoy blood oranges but using this simple, boozy marinade is one of my favorites. Eat them on their own for a light dessert or over frozen yogurt to spice up a classic.

Marinated Blood Oranges (adapted from Healthy in a Hurry)

Makes two small servings

3 blood oranges, supremed

1-2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 tablespoon cointreau or other orange flavored liqueurs

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, allow to marinate for 10 minutes. If less liquid is desired, strain the oranges and serve alone or with frozen yogurt. Enjoy.

Doesn’t poached fruit sound classy and elegant and like something only one would do if forced? Well listen, I thought the same thing until I actually poached fruit at home. I did it at pastry school — but we also made five other fruit desserts that day and so I wasn’t exactly tuned in to how delightful poached fruit was…

So here’s the thing, poached fruit is super easy to make and it’s also extremely versatile as you can flavor the poaching liquid with any thing you desire: ginger, lemon, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, the list goes on and on. Plus, in addition to the spices that you can add, you can also feel free to have a little fun with what kind of liquid you poach in. I started out with a vanilla sugar syrup but you can poach in wine or even add tea to the liquid too (that’s what’s next for me!). Even better, try adding some dried fruit, think cherries, figs, apricots, into the poaching liquid about five minutes before the fruit is tender. This plumps up the dried fruit and makes it oh-so-delicious and juicy.

You can use poached pears as an elegant dessert served with some lovely vanilla ice cream and a little of the reduced poached liquid as a sauce, put it into a salad or you can do what Collin Murray does, dice up the poached pear and eat it with the plumped cherries, Greek yogurt and granola. Classy breakfast.

Vanilla Poached Pears with Dried Cherries (inspired by several vintage and modern sources — mostly by David Lebovitz)

3 pears, not over-ripe, peeled, halved and cored

4 cups water

2 cups granulated sugar

1 vanilla bean, spilt

½ cup dried cherries

In a large pan, combine the water, sugar and vanilla bean; heat till the sugar has dissolved. Gently place the pears in the liquid and place a mesh strainer over-top to prevent the pears from floating. Allow the pears to simmer about 20 minutes before checking them by inserted a paring knife into one of them — if it goes in easily, the pear is done. Add the cherries into the strainer making sure that the liquid is covering them and allow them to plump up, about five minutes.

Once tender, allow the pears to cool in their poaching liquid. If you want, take a cup of the poaching liquid and boil it until it is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Use this sauce as a topping if serving the pears as a dessert.

Store the pears in their poaching liquid in a covered container in the fridge for no more then one week. Enjoy.

This little torte was sort of a gamble that paid off. Sometimes I’m guilty of buying fruit just because it looks pretty…am I the only one who does this? Anyway, after I bought the lovely couple pounds of apricots, I had to figure out what to do with them, hence the conceptualization of this little torte.

Apricots, like many stone-fruits, will continue to ripen after you purchase them so they tend can be a time-sensitive fruit to have in the kitchen. Always try to smell fruit before you buy; if it smells good, it’s ripe and should taste just as delicious. Similarly, make sure that you don’t pick your summer fruits randomly but instead give them a feel first. Though most apricots, peaches and the like should be firm, you don’t want them to be hard or mushy — they should be just right.

I found the inspirational recipe in the German section of the “international” cookbook published by The New York Times back in the 1960′s. The original recipe used a tart apple at the filling and I worried that the apricots might be too juicy in the torte and make it more soggy then delicious. However, I really shouldn’t have been so foolish. The apricots added a lovely sweetness and texture and Collin Murray immediately declared this torte to be the German version of a cobbler and promptly helped himself to seconds.

This cake, which is free of butter(!) and oil(!) is pretty quick to throw together and I have a sneaking suspicion that you could use several different kinds of fruit if you lacked apricots — strawberries, peaches, apples or cherries — go crazy my friends.

Apricot Torte (adapted from The New York Times Internal Cookbook)

Makes one 8-inch square or round torte

1 egg

¾ cup granulated sugar

½ cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of salt

1 cup apricots, cut into thin slices

½ cup walnut pieces, chopped

1 teaspoon vanilla paste

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Butter the inside of a square or round baking dish and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. In a medium sized bowl, beat the egg with an electric mixer until it is thick and light yellow, about three minutes. Gradually beat in sugar and beat an additional one minute.

Gently fold the flour mixture into the egg being careful not to overbeat. Stir in apricots, walnuts and vanilla and quickly pour into prepared baking dish.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown and firm to the touch. Serve warm or cool with or without whipped cream.

Sometimes desserts are so good that I’m literally lost for words. This dessert is that good. Man-alive, that good. In fact, it is a testament to my love of all you faithful readers that I’m even sharing this with you and not keeping it to myself to eat with big ‘ol spoon and a happy face smeared with whipped cream and raspberries.

I’ve made Eton Mess before and I have to say that it is one of the easiest desserts to make, which is probably why I love it so much. However, this version of Eton Mess is just a little bit fancy — dare I say, this Eton Mess is classy. Gasp.

The reason for its classiness is the addition of raspberry jam and raspberry liquor…do I have your attention now? Prior to being submersed into the raspberry jam stripped whipped cream, lovely fresh raspberries get nice and happy (read: drunk) in luscious raspberry eau di vie called framboise. The result is a tripe threat of raspberry awesomeness that had Collin Murray begging for seconds and thirds.

Do not fear if you cannot find framboise — it’s a fancy-pants thing that my oh-so-nice father-in-law sent me after Collin Murray and I exhausted nearly every liqour store in our area. As a substitution, you could sprinkle your delicate raspberries with a touch of sugar, depending on their sweetness, and then mix in the juice of half a lemon and allow them to break down or macerate a little to release some of their lovely juices.

 

This dessert is everything you want in a summer dessert, easy, quick, ovenless and most of all, totally and utterly delicious.

Triple Raspberry Eton Mess

Serves 4, generously

1 cup raspberries

2 tablespoons framboise

2 cups heavy cream

1-2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons raspberry jam

1 cup crumbled meringue cookies, or more if desired

 In a small bowl, combine raspberries and framboise. Allow to soak for 20 minutes.

In a large bowl whip heavy cream to soft peaks. Add 1 tablespoon sugar and continue whipping till you’ve achieved stiff peaks. Gently fold in jam and set aside.

Fold drunken raspberries into whipped cream. Carefully spoon “the mess” into parfait glasses or bowls. Sprinkle with desired amount of crumbled meringue. Serve cold and enjoy.

This recipe was a delightful surprise to me. Having never made a cobbler, I was unprepared for the magic that happened in my oven. Magic I tell you.

Though it’s a wee bit early in Canada for peaches to be perfect, I found these lovelies at the market and just couldn’t resist. Having grown up in orchard-central, Collin Murray has a special affinity towards ripe, juicy peaches and I had a feeling that he might not be able to resist a peach cobbler. Of course, I was right.

As I said, a little magic went down in my oven. When you make a cobbler, you starter with melting butter in a baking dish, then adding a very moist, fluffy batter, then you top that batter with some lovely sugared peaches — NO STIRRING REQUIRED! However, when I opened the oven wouldn’t you know that the peaches had done a disappearing act to the bottom and the batter had puffed up to the top, like, well, magic. Honestly, I had a little moment of terrible fear that something had gone amiss but then I realized, that’s just the cobbler’s way.

Cobblers are just one of the many fetching desserts that can be made with fruit during the summer. Sweet and refreshing, cobblers, crisps, and the like are a great way to make use of the wonderful produce that summer brings us.

The recipe that I adapted this from was called Prize Winning Peach Cobbler and I must say that with a couple of minor adjustments (ahem, more fruit, less sugar), this little number is a total winner, especially when topped with some creamy Vanilla Ice Cream.

Peach Cobbler Surprise (adapted from The Gasparilla Cookbook)

Makes 1-8-inch square cobbler

½ cup unsalted butter

4-5 firm but ripe peaches

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (about ½ a lemon)

½ cup granulated sugar

¾ cup flour

Pinch of salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup granulated sugar

¾ cup milk

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Place the butter in an 8-inch square baking dish and allow to melt in the oven as it heats. Remove when melted.

Wash peaches and slice thinly. Toss with lemon juice and sugar and set aside about 10-15 minutes or until most of the sugar has dissolved.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder and remaining sugar. Slowly whisk in milk being careful not to over-mix. Pour batter into the 8-inch pan, over the melted butter. DO NOT MIX. Carefully and evenly pour the peaches and sugar over the batter. Bake for 50-60 minutes. Delicious hot or cold. Enjoy.

I found this recipe by chance. Normally when I get a new vintage cookbook, I flip through, page by page, armed with sticky notes. Usually the cookbooks end up with dozens of paper flags marking the pages of delicious-sounding, quirky or fun recipes. But sometimes I miss things. This recipe is one such a thing. And boy am I glad I found it.

Collin Murray loves a fruit crisp. I don’t know what it is, the oats, the fruit, the crispy topping; whatever it is, the man loves it. So when I saw the original recipe, it caught my eye because I wanted to make my man some tasty desserts.

Usually crisps are called such because of the baked topping. What differentiates this recipe is that it has fruit baked in-between to layers of crispy deliciousness. It’s like a fruit crisp sandwich…or a crisp cake…

For this recipe I used frozen berries. Though in my neck of the woods there are lovely strawberries making an appearance at the store, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries are still painfully far away from being in season and darn it, I wanted a mixed berry crisp. Instead of using berries from far parts of the world that aren’t in their peak, frozen berries can be an excellent substitute. If you like, you could use fresh strawberries, rhubarb (though I would add a little more sugar) or a combination of the two — all of which would be make for a lovely crisp.

I have to tell you that I’m very happy I came back to this recipe. Not only did I find this crisp cake to be delightful but Collin Murray’s day was made — happy husband, happy life…that’s how that saying goes, right?

Mixed Berry Crisp Cake (adapted from The Colorado Cache Cookbook)

Serves 4-6

1 cup all purpose flour

 ¾ cup oats, not quick cooking

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup brown sugar

½ cup unsalted butter, melted

4 cups frozen mixed berries (or other fruit mix)

2 tablespoons cornstarch

¼ cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons water

Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Pour in butter and mix until all the flour has been moistened and the mixture is clumpy.

In a large saucepan, on medium high heat, combine berries, cornstarch, sugar and water. Allow the berries to thaw and the mixture to thicken.

In a rectangular baking dish (6×10 to 9×13 inches), press about three quarters the crumb mixture evenly into the pan. Pour the berry mixture over the crust and sprinkle with the remaining crumbs, trying to cover the fruit if possible.

Bake for 25 minutes or until the fruit mixture is bubbly. Serve warm with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or all by itself. Enjoy.