From raspberry bars to blueberry-lime snack cake, these four desserts make the most of the sweet, tart, beautiful fruits that now fill our gardens and markets.
By Yankee Magazine
Jun 07 2021
The Joy of Summer BerriesPhoto Credit : Kristin Teig | Styling by Catrine Kelty
When the first berries of summer start rolling in, the only thing to do is eat them greedily, by the handful. I purchase punnets of strawberries at the market that never make it home, stain my fingertips and lips purple upon the discovery of a fat thicket of blackberries along the trail, plunk myself directly in the center of a scrubby field of wild blueberries and make like little Sal in Robert McCloskey’s famous children’s book.
Last year I moved cross-country from San Francisco, where I’d lived for 16 years, to Maine, where my wife grew up. It was midsummer by the time our family settled into our old farmhouse and tentatively began to get our bearings. We delighted in finding a secret cove for swimming, the best ice cream cones (at Bresca & the Honey-bee, in New Gloucester), and someone to repair the aging push mower we’d found in the barn, so that we could attempt to restore order to the lawn.
But no discovery was as thrilling as the gift from our new neighbor. “If you want,” he mentioned offhandedly one day, “you’re welcome to go pick some of the raspberries out back. I don’t care for them.” I wandered behind his house, a modest bowl in hand, expecting to find some scrubby bushes. Instead, I was greeted with thorn-free canes standing six feet high, laden with fat rubies, their flavor concentrated by Maine’s dry summer. I went home and fetched a bigger bowl.
To those spoils, I added buckets of blueberries I picked on a hot August morning and precious containers of black currants from the local farm stand, which I separated from their stems carefully, using the tines of a fork.
We New Englanders might try to tide ourselves over with out-of-season berries in winter, but they are mere facsimiles, and we know it. The real thing is worth waiting for, and once raspberries, currants, blackberries, blueberries, and black raspberries become abundant in late summer (and after we’ve eaten as many out of hand as possible), it’s time to start cooking.
This summer, in addition to the requisite pies and jams, maybe you’ll want to try a new recipe. A blueberry-lime snack cake is like a muffin writ large, ideal for breakfast. Raspberry bars with cocoa streusel are a fine afternoon treat. Maple tart, its sweetness offset by crème fraîche and blueberry compote, is an elegant dessert for any summer meal. And for those humid dog days, we’re offering an extra recipe online: raspberry semifreddo, a fancy yet simple riff on an ice cream cake, to provide sweet relief.