Blueberry season is finally here and it’s time to put them to use in the kitchen. These three refreshing desserts are just right for relaxing during the dog days of summer. Your kids, or the kid within you, will line up by the freezer door for quick and easy pops made with blueberries swirled into yogurt. Or pick up some peaches and blueberries — and a pint of ice cream — for refreshing and fruity sundaes. Finally, make-ahead lemon semifreddo topped with a berry sauce is sure to wow guests at any summer get-together. Blueberries — and sunny days that feel like they’ll go on forever — are what New Englanders wait for all year long.
Warm Roasted Peach and Blueberry Sundaes
Makes 4 servings
Peaches and blueberries are the soul mates of high summer, celebrated here in this simple dessert. You can sauté the peaches in butter ahead of time, and finish the dessert just before serving. Freestone peaches pull easily away from the pit, while clingstone peaches (as the name implies) take a little more coaxing to release the fruit. Serve with scoops of vanilla ice cream and Summer Berry Sauce for a stunning dessert.
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ripe freestone peaches, halved and pitted
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons amaretto or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cup fresh blueberries
Vanilla ice cream, for serving
Summer Berry Sauce, for serving (see accompanying recipe)
Toasted almonds, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
In a 9-inch cast iron or ovenproof skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the peaches, cut sides down, and cook for 3 minutes.
Place the skillet in the oven and roast for 5 to 6 minutes, or until the peach skins wrinkle. Remove the skillet from the oven and cover with a lid for 2 minutes to steam and loosen the skins. Remove the skins. (If they’re are stubborn, leave them on. The fuzz disappears when the peaches bake.) Transfer the peach halves, cut sides up, to dessert bowls; set aside.
Stir the brown sugar, water, and amaretto or vanilla into the skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring, for 2 minutes, or until the mixture bubbles uniformly. Drizzle each peach with 1 teaspoon of the syrup.
Add the blueberries to the skillet and stir for 1 to 2 minutes or until the berries are heated through and release some of their juices.
Place a scoop of ice cream on top of each peach and drizzle with the warm blueberries and the Summer Berry Sauce. Sprinkle with toasted almonds to serve.
Lemon Semifreddo With Summer Berry Sauce
Makes 8 servings
The classic, feather-light, and refreshing Italian dessert, semifreddo (“half-frozen”) is an ideal make-ahead treat for a summer party. It’s akin to frozen lemon mousse, and pairs well with a berry sauce. Traditionally, semifreddo is made in a loaf pan; here it’s served as a round “cake.”
½ cup sliced almonds
1 cup heavy whipping cream
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch fine sea salt
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup superfine sugar
1 cup plain, whole-milk Greek yogurt
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Line an 8-inch springform pan with plastic wrap so that the excess drapes over the sides. Place in the freezer.
On a baking sheet, spread the almonds and toast in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Set aside to cool.
In an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream until it holds firm peaks, being careful not to over-whip. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate.
Wash and dry the mixer bowl and whisk attachment thoroughly. On low speed, beat the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar until foamy. Gradually increase the speed and slowly add the sugar, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, until the whites are thick and glossy and hold firm peaks (about 3 to 4 minutes).
In separate large bowl, whisk the yogurt, lemon juice, and lemon zest until smooth. Fold in the whipped cream, followed by half the whipped egg whites. When they’re incorporated, fold in the remaining whites. Transfer to the springform pan and sprinkle with the almonds. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 4 hours or overnight, until firm.
A few minutes before serving, remove the semifreddo from the freezer. Unlatch the pan’s spring and peel off the plastic wrap. Transfer the frozen round to a serving plate and serve with the Summer Berry Sauce.
SUMMER BERRY SAUCE
1/3 cup granulated sugar
Pinch fine sea salt
1 cup fresh raspberries, divided
1 cup fresh blueberries, divided
1 teaspoon tapioca flour or cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a saucepan over medium heat, stir the sugar, 2 tablespoons of water, and salt until the sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a boil. Add ½ cup each of raspberries and blueberries. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring, until the berries release their juice.
In a bowl, stir the tapioca flour or cornstarch and 4 tablespoons of cold water until smooth, then stir it into the berry mixture. Cook, stirring, for 30 seconds, or until the mixture thickens and looks clear. Stir in the vanilla. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the remaining blueberries and raspberries. Refrigerate until cold. Serve as an accompaniment with the semifreddo.
Blueberry Yogurt Popsicles
Makes 10 Popsicles
These are nothing like store-bought Popsicles — the yogurt makes them creamy while the berries are still on the icy side. Use plain yogurt if you don’t want them to be too sweet and add honey or agave syrup to taste. You’ll need a mold that makes 10 ice pops (3 to 4 ounces each), and 10 sticks.
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons agave syrup or honey, or more to taste
2½ cups whole milk or low-fat Greek yogurt, plain or vanilla flavor
In a blender, puree the blueberries, lemon juice, and the agave syrup or honey until smooth. Taste for sweetness and adjust with agave or honey.
In a shallow bowl, whisk the yogurt to smooth out the lumps. If using plain yogurt, add sweetener to taste. Drizzle the blended berries over the yogurt and stir a few times with a skewer to form streaks of blueberries.
Spoon the yogurt and blueberries mixture into the molds, leaving a ¼-inch head space at top of each to allow for expansion when freezing. (So that it looks marbled in the molds, avoid stirring the mixture too much.) Wipe the edges of the molds with a damp paper towel and place the lid on top. Insert the sticks into the molds, leaving about 2 inches of each stick above the mold. Freeze for 3 to 4 hours, or until firm.
To serve, place the mold bottom side down in a container of hot water (do not submerge) and release the pops.
To store, place the pops in sealable bags and keep in the freezer. Let stored pops sit at room temperature for a few minutes to soften before serving.Writer and photographer Sally Pasley Vargas is the author of “The Cranberry Cookbook, Food for Friends,” and “The Tao of Cooking.” Send comments to email@example.com. Excerpted from “The Blueberry Cookbook: Year-Round Dishes from Field to Table” by Sally Pasley Vargas, Down East Books.