Staff writer Clint Cooper has a drawer full of unused recipes in his kitchen. Once a month in Tossed & Found, he's pulling some out and giving them a try.
Normally, you can't go wrong with a chocolate dessert -- chocolate cake, brownies, chocolate chip ice cream -- but those choices may seem a little heavy when it's warm outside and you've already stuffed down a hamburger, potato salad, baked beans, slaw and chips.
So for our monthly Tossed & Found installment, I pulled out four fruit-based desserts I'd never made before. They involve strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, lemons, oranges and pineapples. OK, so the lemons are concentrated and the orange is in juice form, but you get the idea.
Of the four, the Creamy Lemonade Pie and the Summer Fruit Pizza come closest to my idea of light summer desserts.
Three of the four have cream cheese, so they were a little heavier than I anticipated. Two of them have strawberries, so you can image how heavenly the kitchen smelled during the slicing of ripe spring strawberries.
One of those, Strawberry Cheesecake Trifle, reminded me of what fun trifles can be. I've made several before, and they're not only visually appealing but can be light and certainly tasty.
I have one trifle recipe that has various chocolate candy pieces with a creamy middle that looks wonderful but seems too decadent to eat. I also have one with lemon cookies and a lemon cream that I'd like to try sometime.
But I digress. Check out these fruit-related desserts, and see if they'll fit into your summer plans.
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons 2 percent milk
1 tube (161/2 ounces) refrigerated sugar cookie dough, softened
2 cups fresh blueberries
2 cups fresh raspberries
8 fresh strawberries, sliced
3/4 cup apricot preserves
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sour cream until smooth. Beat in confectioners sugar and milk. Chill.
Meanwhile, press cookie dough onto an ungreased 14-inch pizza pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes or until deep golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Spread cream cheese mixture over crust to within 1/2 inch of edges. Arrange fruit over top.
In a small microwave-safe dish, microwave the preserves, uncovered, on high for 45 to 60 seconds or until melted. Drizzle over fruit. Chill until serving. Refrigerate leftovers.
• Clint's changes: I used skim milk instead of 2 percent because that's what I had. I didn't used the apricot preserves because I thought it would ruin the rather floral look of the dessert. I also put it in a round stoneware dish rather than a pizza pan.
• Result: It took a while to perfectly place each raspberry and blueberry, but they made a beautiful design. I didn't get a chance to try this recipe, but folks in the newsroom finished every last crumb. Those who mentioned it gave rave reviews.
-- Krista Collins, Concord, N.C., through Taste of Home online
2 (5 ounce) cans evaporated milk
2 (4 ounce) packages instant pudding mix
22 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 (12 ounce) can frozen lemonade concentrate, partially thawed
1 (9 ounce) graham cracker pie shell
Whipped cream for garnish
Sprigs of fresh mint for garnish
Lemon slices for garnish
Whisk the evaporated milk and pudding mix in a bowl for 2 minutes or until thickened. Place the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or simply beat it with a hand whisk. Beat until fluffy, use medium speed on the mixer. Add the lemonade concentrate and beat until blended. Beat in the pudding mixture until blended. Pour into the pie shell. Freeze for 4 hours or until firm. Garnish with whipped cream, sprigs of fresh mint and lemon slices.
• Clint's changes: I didn't use the garnishes.
• Result: Easy to make. In fact, the recipe made enough filling for two pies, so buy an extra graham cracker pie shell if you plan to make it. The taste is difficult to distinguish from key lime pie, but it's certainly easier than squeezing a bunch of key limes. Good stuff.
-- Junior League of Chattanooga
2 pints fresh strawberries, sliced
1 cup sugar, divided
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons orange juice
3 cups whipped whipping cream
1 (103/4 ounce) frozen loaf pound cake thawed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Toss sliced strawberries with 1/2 cup sugar and set aside. In mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, orange juice and 1/2 cup sugar until smooth. Fold in whipped cream.
Drain strawberries, reserving juice. Set berries aside. Gently toss pound-cake cubes with reserved juice. Place half the cubes in a 4-quart trifle dish or serving bowl. Top with 1/3 of the cream cheese mixture, half the strawberries and grated chocolate curls. Repeat layers. Top with remaining cream cheese mixture. Garnish with chocolate curls and strawberries, if desired. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
• Clint's changes: I boo-booed and bought whipped topping instead of whipping cream. And I chose to use angel food cake rather than pound cake because it's lighter.
• Result: Slicing the strawberries and the cake and grating the chocolate are a little time-consuming, but the result is worth it. The whipping cream, however, would have made this a slightly lighter dish.
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 can (20 ounces) crushed pineapple, undrained
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
3 egg yolks, beaten
1 pastry shell (9 inches), baked
3 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
6 tablespoons sugar
In a large saucepan, combine sugar and flour. Stir in pineapple and sour cream until combined. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat; cook and stir for 2 minutes longer.
Remove from heat. Stir a small amount of hot filling into egg yolks; return all to the pan, stirring constantly. Bring to a gentle boil; cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat. Pour into pastry shell.
In a small mixing bowl, beat the egg whites, vanilla and cream of tartar (medium speed if using a mixer) until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until stiff, glossy peaks form and sugar is dissolved. Spread evenly over hot filling, sealing edges to crust.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes or until meringue is golden. Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving. Refrigerate leftovers.
• Clint's changes: None.
• Result: Relatively easy to make. Pineapple is probably my favorite fruit, but the taste of the fruit didn't come out in this pie. Indeed, though I followed the directions to the letter, this was just not a very tasty pie. I can't put my finger on exactly why.
-- P. Lauren Fay-Neri, Syracuse, N.Y.. through Taste of Home
Contact staff writer Clint Cooper at email@example.com or 423-757-6497. Subscribe to his posts online at Facebook.com/ClintCooperCTFP.