Summer desserts should be fuss-free. My favorite ones to entertain with require very simple preparation, minimal (if any) heat, yet are still fancy enough to enchant dinner guests. My trick for making a simple sweet seem sophistocated? When in doubt, add some booze!
More often than not, I’ve got a bottle or two of liqueur languishing in the cabinet. There’s the Campari I bought for IPA spritzers, the triple sec used once for a round of Cosmos. It’s easy to forget about them, since they keep indefinitely and hang out in the back of the cabinet when not in use. Dessert offers a great opportunity to use up leftover liqueurs, or at least make a substantial dent.
Here are some of my favorite simple dessert ideas with liqueurs, perfect for summertime entertaining!
10 Easy Ways to Use Liqueurs in Summer Desserts
1. Campari Sundaes: Pour a shot of Campari over a scoop of vanilla ice cream. To really bring out the bitter notes in the liqueur, top with a bit of lemon zest, grated with a fine microplane.
2. Grand Marnier Fruit Salad: Just before serving, toss berries and stone fruits with a splash of Grand Marnier and a splash of orange juice.
3. Kahlua Whipped Cream: Add a few tablespoons of Kahlua to heavy cream before whipping. Use this to top slices of [store-bought] chocolate torte or scoops of coffee ice cream.
4. Southern Comfort Peach Parfaits: Arrange layers of peaches in single-serving jars or glasses, and sprinkle generously with Southern Comfort. Add a layer of vanilla pudding, another layer of peaches and SoCo, and top with whipped cream and a sprig of mint.
5. Bailey’s Brownies: Replace the oil in a boxed brownie mix recipe with Irish Cream. To make a sundae of it, top brownies with mint chip ice cream and drizzle with more liqueur.
6. Chambord Coulis: In the blender, puree a half-pint of raspberries with a few tablespoons of Chambord. Pass through a fine mesh strainer, then spoon onto dessert plates alongside angel food cake. Garnish with more raspberries.
7. Limoncello Glaze: In a small bowl, mix a cup of powdered sugar with a shot of limoncello and the zest of one lemon. Drizzle on top of pound cake and garnish with a sprig of basil.
8. Curaçao Crush: Pour a shot of Blue Curaçao over shaved ice, and you’ve got sno-cones for grown-ups.
9. Kirschwasser Chocolate Cake: Using a boxed chocolate cake mix, substitute kirsch for the water. Top the cake with whipped cream and decorate with fresh cherries, pitted and halved.
10. Amaretto Apricot Trifle: Layer amaretti cookies, sliced apricots sprinkled with Amaretto, and whipped cream in a trifle dish until full, then garnish with toasted sliced almonds and amaretti cookie crumbs.
(Image credits: A_Lein/Shutterstock)