Summer Sweetness

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Story by Dave Eckert   |   Intro image courtesy of Affäre

There are so many things I love about summer, it’s hard to know where to begin. But, if there’s been one constant favorite over the past 40-years, it’s my wife’s tasty, seasonal, fresh-fruit based summertime desserts. From her Ozark Triple Berry Pie to her delicious blueberry crisp to everything in between, summer at my house is three months of one tempting dessert treat after another. Here, I decided to take a peek at what others are doing to sate their summertime dessert appetite.

I started with input from some of my favorite area restaurants. At Affäre, a long-time go to spot for me, Pastry Chef Koltin Heuser says he enjoys featuring seasonal ice creams and sorbets. “I love them because I can showcase a variety of ever-changing, seasonally-inspired flavors, including Black Forest, apple strudel, strawberry-rhubarb, blackberry balsamic, peach ginger, Kahlua, chocolate-pumpkin lebkuchen spice, and white asparagus,” Heuser shared. Heuser says he looks forward to the season because of the unique variety of produce and the fact that fruits are at their peak. I asked him to pick a favorite. “Fruit mousse in a chocolate cup is a great dessert in the summer. I serve sorbet with it because it’s refreshing and highlights the best produce the season has to offer,” Heuser stated.

Photo courtesy of Acre: Pilsen Photo Co-op

Up in Parkville at the wonderful regionally-focused Acre, Chef-Owner Andrew Longres agrees with Heuser on both loving the season and appreciating all of the perfectly ripe fruit. His favorite to beat the summer heat? Keep it simple with the best the season has to offer. “When it comes to dessert, we’re not trying to make things super complicated, which is why we only have three: Maxine’s Lemon Cake (citrus), something chocolate, and something with seasonal fruit. Peaches are my favorite summer fruit because they are so versatile. You can stew them, grill them, slowly roast them, marinate, pickle, or serve them fresh with sweet cream and some kind of crumb, like strudel. There are all sorts of applications. We are looking forward to debuting our peach panzanella featuring grilled peaches, beans, burrata and bread with red wine or vinegar reduction with aromatics that offer sweet and sour all at once. You might also see peaches on foie gras,” Longres said. I say yum!

Photo courtesy of Sweet Peaches Cobblers: Zach Bauman

At Sweet Peaches Cobblers, they make delicious ready-to-bake frozen cobblers and fillings that you can pick up in your local grocery store. President and CEO Denisha Jones says she loves the season, especially the strawberries and peaches. “I look forward to exploring more with regards to grilling and reaching beyond dessert to savory applications. I’m thinking peaches and chicken for my kabobs, washing it down with a cold glass of strawberry lemonade. My favorite summer dessert is Sweet Peaches Nana’s Kitchen Peach Cobbler topped with some vanilla bean ice cream.  It’s my favorite because it reminds me of family, and it just melts in your mouth!” Jones exclaimed.

Photo courtesy of Sugar Whipped Bakery

So, what can you expect from your local bakery in the summer sweet category? Well, if that local bakery is Plattsburg’s Sugar Whipped Bakery, the answer is A LOT! Owner Melissa Fahlstrom weighed in with a big list of summertime specialties. “Frozen key lime pie on a stick, either coated in dark chocolate or with raspberry and coated with white chocolate. Cheesecake waffle cones coated with white or dark chocolate, filled with flavored no-bake cheesecake, including strawberry crunch, cookies and cream, cake batter, peanut butter cup, and mocha crunch. We also make small batches of ice cream from scratch for ice cream cookie   sandwiches – chocolate chip with vanilla ice cream, and dark chocolate cookies with espresso ice cream. Then there’s the classic throwback – the ice box cake. I usually rotate three flavors through the summer – vanilla, grasshopper, and peanut butter. Layers of thin crispy cookies with layers of whipped cream,” Fahlstrom shared. Oh gosh, Melissa, you had me at hello!

Photo courtesy of Stacy Weible

Finally, I leave you with a strawberry lemon curd cheesecake from active Hardcore Foodies member and talented home cook and baker Stacy Weible. “It’s a graham cracker crust with a cheesecake base that I swirl a strawberry reduction in. After it cools overnight, I top it with fresh lemon curd and meringue swirls that I lightly toasted. I made one last year after a visit to Gieringers to pick fresh strawberries. I had so many strawberries, I decided on the reduction, so that I could freeze some. A strawberry cheesecake sounded delicious, and I love anything lemon, so it just sounded like the right combination for a summer dessert,” Weible told me. As beautiful as it is delicious, Weible’s strawberry lemon curd cheesecake is the perfect way to end our exploration of summertime sweets. 


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