Whether you’re a buyer, a baker, or somewhere between, these seasonal treats are tried and true but, most importantly, EASY.
Summertime dessert to buy: popsicles or ice cream treats.
Seriously, who doesn’t love some form of popsicle or ice cream treats? And with the growing number of low-sugar, dairy-free, and vegan cold novelty products, you’re sure to find something even for someone with lots of food restrictions.
Assortment packs of cool treats are a great choice, since those maximize the options for everyone to find at least one thing they like.
Summertime dessert to make: cheesecake (or pudding tart).
The reason I love making cheesecake is that you can make it exactly as difficult as you want. You can make everything from scratch (in which case, I recommend this recipe), or you can make what I like to call “cheater’s cheesecake.”
By that I mean a straightforward 5-step cheesecake:
1) buy a crust. Or make one if you have a husband whose favorite meal train-related job is smashing up graham crackers.
2) buy a bucket of pre-made no-bake cheesecake filling. Side note: the containers for these are great to save for giving away when you deliver your next meal to someone.
3) add in flavors to the filling, being careful not to beat the air out of it.
4) dump the filling into the crust.
5) add a topping.
Here are my top three summertime cheater’s cheesecake flavor combos:
- Filling: add the peel and juice from one lemon. Topping: blueberries.
- Filling: add the peel and juice from one lime. Topping: strawberries (a finely chopped jalapeño can be fun too!).
- Filling: add in some chili. Topping: mangos.
Depending on crust choice, cheesecake is easy to make gluten free. If you are baking for someone who eats vegan, has a dairy intolerance, or limits sugar, consider substituting an appropriate pudding for the cheesecake filling. The texture is very different from a cheesecake, but it makes a great tart-like dessert.
Wintertime dessert to buy: a hot chocolate bar.
This is a adaptable dessert for all ages. Buy hot chocolate mix and add-ins or toppings:
– candy canes
– rolled wafers
– sandwich cookies
– espresso powder
–mini chocolate chips,
– and, of course, whipped cream.
If you want to make this gift even more special, find a meaningful mug or spoon to gift as well.
Wintertime dessert to make: cookies.
Cookie time is the most wonderful time of the year. You can make cookies from scratch or from a box/bag mix. And you can easily make no-bake, gluten-free, low-sugar, or vegan cookies.
I find that iced cookies are a big hit with children, particularly if the cookies are iced with their names (despite my subpar icing abilities). For more grown-up options, while the classic chocolate chip cookie is always a wise choice, other options such as gingerbreads, nutty shortbreads, and pebbernødders can help you lean into the celebrating cold weather.
If you need more ideas, check out Food Network’s top 100 cookie recipes for Christmas 2020 here or Betty Crocker’s holiday cookie recipe typology here.
Anytime of the year, to make or buy: BROWNIES.
Brownies are indeed the MVPs of the meal train dessert world.
Whether you get them at a store, whip them up from a box mix, or make them from scratch…from chili to mint, cookie batter to espresso, turtle to raspberry, peanut butter to coconut…fudgy, chewy, or cakey…I’m sure there’s a brownie out there for every person. So if you need a dessert in a pinch, I’d vote for a brownie every time.