Best Easy-to-Make Cottage Desserts (and thanks, Twitter!)

We do an annual Buck Lake get together at my cottage where I meet up with my neighbours at the lake for a pot-luck. This year, however, my neighbour is hosting. She plans to serve BBQ ribs and corn, and I’m to provide dessert for ten or so people.

I was at a loss for what to make, so I turned to Twitter. My Twitter pals responded instantly with all kinds of wonderful suggestions including some desserts I’d never heard of before (Eton Mess?).  I thought I’d post them up for those of you looking for great (and simple to make) cottage desserts. There were so many great ideas that  I am sure I missed a few, but thanks again to everyone who participated!

Most people recommended using seasonal fruit somehow, and I agree it would be a shame not to.  My old pal and fellow foodie Ross Macfarlane says this recipe for peach pie is his absolute favourite, and provided a link to the recipe  which claims to have a fool proof pastry.  The nice thing about pie, of course, if like me you aren’t good at pastry making, is that you can buy pre-made pastry shells. A lot of my Twitter pals provided suggestions that involved using pre-made tart shells or meringues, and I certainly like serving things that are quick to make but look like I slaved over a hot stove for hours!

David Allison suggested I grill pitted peaches or plums on the BBQ, served with Greek yoghurt or creme fraiche, and said I should chuck handfuls of chiffonade (finely shredded mint leaves) on top. “Trust me,” he added, “grind black pepper on the top.” I am sure the heat would bring out the sweetness in that fruit, and I’m intrigued with the notion of adding black pepper. Super easy!

Speaking of easy, this was a combination I would never have thought of. Allan Pollock suggested serving vanilla ice cream drizzled with honey and whiskey, which he had discovered in Cinque Terra, Rio Maggiore, Italy. Here’s a picture of where he first had it: how beautiful is that!

baking 1

Fellow mystery author Elizabeth Duncan suggested a no-bake cheesecake. I got a lot of recommendations along those lines, and I do love cheesecake. Pearl Pirie, a local food columnist (and Ottawa poet) suggested making one from cool whip mixed with cream cheese and topped with cherry or blueberry filling.

Former Deputy Chief of Police Jill Skinner recommended cheesecake too as being “simple but decadent”, also with either blueberry or cherry topping, although she doesn’t use fresh. (She will send me her favourite recipe; I’ll post it when I get it.)

A lot of people favoured fresh blueberries, which are in season right now and packed with flavour. @Ivriniel provided me with a recipe for a blueberry buckle with a vanilla lemon sauce that sounds delectable: she says the sauce is to die for. The recipe comes from Vegetable Heaven by Mollie Katzen: click to enlarge.



Fellow realtor Bob Blake suggested a blueberry crumble with vanilla yoghurt or whipping cream. His wife Gail  made one for an island picnic and it served 12. They bought the blueberries at the Brockville Farmers Market a two minute walk from their condo and an hour later, it was ready. Now that’s fresh!

Norma Graham suggested a zucchini cake, baked in a bundt cake pan. Here’s her recipe:

1/4 cup softened butter

1/2 cup oil (I use sunflower but any will do)

1 3/4 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup buttermilk (or milk soured with a bit of vinegar)

Beat together until smooth. In a separate bowl combine:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup cocoa

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

Mix and stir into the wet ingredients.

Add 2 cups grated zucchini and 1/2 cup chocolate chips. Pour into a greased and floured bundt pan. Bake at 350 until it rebounds when poked, about 40 minutes. Let cool and remove carefully from pan. Drizzle a thin chocolate icing over the top.


Alexandra Macqueen put forward a trifle, while Nick Neuheimer, who I worked with years ago at Canadian Medical Association, suggested Cherries Jubilee. Those are a bit out of my wheelhouse, but I can see how a flaming pan of cherries at a BBQ would be pretty spectacular!

Reema Faris recommended I make an Eton Mess. I’d never even heard of this dessert before but it involves filling meringues (which she suggested buying pre-made) with strawberries or a mix of berries and peaches. She too provided a recipe: again, click to enlarge.

baking 4


I got the same recommendation from @kitzfuhel who suggested buying the meringues at Loblaws  and filling them berries and cream. @OttawaMaryJ agreed that meringues, topped with fresh fruit and perhaps plain yoghurt and drizzled with melted chocolate would be delicious.

Pete Patterson liked the idea of yoghurt or ice cream or sherbet with berries;  Margaret Mitchell  suggested topping them with maple syrup. She also recommended baking a Queen Elizabeth cake which she said had lots of online recipes a good story behind it “even if the Palace denied it” which intrigued me enough to look it up. It was developed for Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, apparently, when rationing was still in place so it has only a few ingredients: sugar, flour, eggs, dates and butter, with a shredded coconut topping. (When I have time to do more research, I’m going to check into that backstory!)

Catherine Morris would use Amaretto or Grand Marnier on those fresh berries with whipped cream or ice cream – I like the way her mind works!

Jody David Beeching came up with a Malva Pudding as delicious and easy to make. It reminds me of a fruit cocktail cake I used to whip up in one bowl; it was smothered in a warm caramel sauce and was always a big hit. Here’s a picture of a Malva pudding — the link will also take you to the recipe.

baking 5

(photo credit to Debbie Boere Vrou).

@NancyFromCanada thought that since it was a BBQ, I should make S’mores with either graham crackers or french biscuits covered in chocolate. Leacy O’Brian thought this recipe from Paula Roy, the Food Editor at Ottawa at Home,  for S’more Brownies would be perfect but thought I’d need two pans, it’s that good! (She says she uses the premium red cocoa from Bulk Barn when she makes them).

Paula was kind enough to provide me with a link to the recipe on her blog, Constantly Cooking, and says they are the best brownies she’s ever made!

baking 6

(Photo courtesy of Paula Roy).

One of the more unusual suggestions was from Michael Maidment, CEO of the Ottawa Food Bank. He suggested frying sliced apples and bananas in butter and serving with ice cream. Leacy O’Brian said she thought a  Cuban banana liqueur would work with that recipe and she would flambe it. That’s one I have to try for sure!

Gisele Larocque  is a wonderful baker, married to one of my favourite contractors, Richard Larocque of Vala Home Improvements. She suggested making a fruit pizza. She makes them as small tarts and serves them with strawberries, blueberries and raspberries on top – a real crowd pleaser and this recipe  serves 24!

baking 7

Stella Campbell recommended making an ice cream cake with a graham wafer bottom. “Soften 2 litres of good vanilla ice cream. Crumble 2 Skor bars in ice cream saving a bit to sprinkle over top. Pop back in freezer & voila. Perfect to follow ribs.”

And finally, Aaron Wise suggested a cobbler – easy to make, he said, and can be prepped ahead (I’ve asked him for his recipe) and Susan Abbott suggested brownies with fresh fruit on the side.

So there you go, and now you know why I spend so much time on Twitter! Thanks, everyone!


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