Finish any meal on a sweet note with these easy, crowd-pleasing favorites from our family of cookbook authors.
Coconut Grilled Pineapple
Cut a fresh pineapple crosswise into 1/2-inch slices, brush each side with coconut milk, and sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar. Direct grill over a hot fire so the sugar caramelizes, while the fruit stays raw in the center—2 minutes per side will do it.
—Steven Raichlen, author of Barbecue Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades
Melt salted butter in a skillet over medium heat, sauté apple slices until they start to soften, and then sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg off the heat. Top with crème fraîche or pile on top of vanilla ice cream.
—Daniel Shumski, author of Will It Skillet?
Easy Fruit Crumble
Just fill a baking dish with seasonal sliced fruit (i.e., apples, berries, or peaches) tossed with a drizzle of 100% juice, and top with a crumble of 1 cup oats, 1/2 c flour (whole grain or gluten-free), 2 tablespoons sweetener (i.e., brown sugar, coconut palm sugar), and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and bake until golden brown.
—Sharon Palmer, author of The Plant-Powered Diet and Plant-Powered For Life.
Best-Ever Chocolate Sauce
Mix 1 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder in a pot with 1 cup of sugar and gradually stir in 1 cup of cream. Drop in 6 tablespoons of butter and a pinch or two of salt and stir over medium heat until steaming hot but not simmering.
—Alice Medrich, author of Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-In-Your-Mouth Cookies and Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts
Whipped Cream Dippers
Whip a cup of heavy cream with 2 Tbsp of sugar and a little vanilla or other flavoring extract. Grab some berries, sliced fruit, cookies, leftover holiday treats and dip!
—Leanne Brown, author of Good and Cheap
Hot, Cold, Sweet and Spicy
The juxtaposition of hot and cold with sweet and spicy makes for a delicious easy dessert that both surprises and delights. Simply add a teaspoon of fermented pepper paste, or your favorite hot sauce, to a pineapple juice reduction and drizzle over vanilla ice cream.
—Kirsten K. Shockey, author of Fermented Vegetables and forthcoming Fiery Ferments
Figs & Mascarpone
Toast pistachios or almonds at 350°F for about 5 to 10 minutes, chop after cooling. Sweeten mascarpone cheese with honey, maple syrup or powdered sugar, dollop on fresh figs cut in half, and garnish with toasted nuts.
—Alison Cayne, author of The Haven’s Kitchen Cooking School
Strawberry Cookie Sandwiches
Macerate chopped strawberries in freshly squeezed orange juice and grated ginger overnight. Whip heavy cream until peaks form and julienne some fresh mint to mix into the strawberries before serving; layer ingredients on homemade or store-bought butter cookies.
—Alexandra Stratou, author of Cooking with Loula
Sautéed Salted Dates
The way these were described to me the first time I had them was nature’s version of salted caramels—and they are just as addicting. Heat some olive oil in a pan and toss in dates (large Medjool ones work best), watching carefully and turning a few times so they don’t burn; once warm and gooey, toss with big flaky sea salt (like Maldon) and serve.
—Julie Pointer Adams, author of Wabi Sabi Welcome
Frozen Pear Perfection
Freeze a can of pears in syrup then puree with a hearty glug of spiced apple cider, a pinch of cardamom and some candied ginger until it is the consistency of sorbet. Serve with Amaretto whipped cream and a pear slice for garnish.
—Rachael Narins, author of Cast-Iron Cooking
And, if all else fails, there’s always beer…
Find a beer that fits the occasion and the meal you just had. Ales made with chocolate, truffles, fresh fruits, or aged in whisky barrels have the same flavors as a decadent dessert with the added pop of alcohol.
—John Holl, author of Dishing Up New Jersey and The American Craft Beer Cookbook