25 Desserts for When Nothing’s in Season
Give some of these virtually produce-less recipes a try.
Necessity is the mother of invention and all that. Even in the depths of winter, when fruit trees are barren and you’re sick of looking at squash-based pies, dinner parties go on and sweet-tooth cravings rage. (Or maybe you planned poorly and are scrambling through your pantry to find something that can be turned into dessert without the addition of fresh produce.) Either way, dessert must be made, and we’re here to tell you that it’s going to be okay: We’ll get you through this. Forget about what’s in season (because not much is right now) with these 25 perennially achievable sweet things.
You’ve heard of cookie shot glasses, but how about a cookie bowl? Expand your dough-based dishware game for this Willy Wonka-esque dessert. Chocolate chip cookies are always in season.
When fruits are failing you, tea can provide your sweets with a reliably interesting and complex flavor profile straight out of your kitchen cabinet. With this sweet matcha glaze, you’re basically having breakfast for dessert—and we salute you for it.
It’s a good idea to always have some chocolate on hand anyway—because why not?—but in the dregs of winter, chocolate is your dessert savior. Keep this recipe for fudgy, perfectly dense brownies in your back pocket for the weeks when the farmer’s market is looking less than inspiring.
This rice pudding leans on a little bit of citrus zest, but lemons and oranges are so omnipresent at your average supermarket that they basically exist without seasons (just like the dried spices used here). Hey, we’re making the rules here.
There’s a reason why so many wintery desserts are heavy on the spices—they keep well. This cake is heavy on the warm winter spices, and you don’t even have to stress about smooth icing, since the whole point is to get a peek of the cinnamon-brown layers through the frosting.
Chef Eric Werner from Tulum, Mexico hot-spot Hartwood offers up a recipe that pulls all of its flavor from your pantry, not the produce section. A mixture of oversized dried coconut flakes and finely shredded dried coconut, plus sticky-sweet cream of coconut (and a bit of rum), makes for a perfect sweet end to a meal.
What is more blessedly seasonless than a good PB&J? The West Coast ice cream makers at Salt & Straw up the ante a bit with a chocolate peanut butter fudge, but you can still go with your favorite store-bought jam. No fresh berries are harmed in the making of this ice cream.
Brooklyn-based ice cream wizard Sam Mason cooks the honey in this ice cream recipe until it’s basically smoking, and you’re going to wonder if any of your other cooking mistakes might be able to be turned into something so delicious. Bonus: he also showed us a thoroughly browned butter and sage ice cream, too.
This herbaceous, lemony granita is super simple to bring together, and you don’t even need an ice cream maker to make it. You can serve it without the strawberries, too, if you're not feeling the out-of-season-flavorless-rock thing.
We put Milk Bar’s Christina Tosi and Action Bronson in a kitchen together, and this unholy delight came out of it. Tosi’s signature Cereal Milk ice cream blended with Action’s signature baklava (and some smoky bacon fat, because fuck it) creates a true work of art.
These pedas combine three ingredients—cardamom, saffron, and pistachios—that create such a perfect trinity of flavors that you’ll never have a chance to miss fresh fruit. Dip these in milky chai for dessert (or breakfast, we’re not judging).
The etymology of the term “chess pie” is dubious at best, but all you need to know is that it’s delicious and super simple to make. The custard filling in our recipe here calls for Meyer lemons, but easier-to-find traditional lemons work just fine, too.
“Churros are pleasure,” says chef José Chesa, owner of 180 Xurros and Xocolata in Portland, Oregon. Sugar-coated fried dough is a perennial pleasure, indeed.
There’s not really a dessert that’s more southern than pecan pie, except, of course, if you throw some bourbon in there. With this much chocolate, nuts, and booze, you’ll eschew fruit pies even when you’re in peak peach or cherry season.
Jaggery is an unrefined sugar that’s popular in many parts of the world, but most so in Southeast Asia. California chef Russell Moore shared this recipe for ice cream subbing jaggery for regular granulated sugar, and it makes a perfect blank canvas for any toppings of your choice.
Both dessert and digestif, this grasshopper milkshake is simple, boozy, and refreshing.
When you break through the golden brown pie crust surrounding a whole lemon, a gush of sweet, citrusy syrup bursts out, pooling into a little “pond.” Consider this the British proto-molten lava cake.
We’re pretty sure the idea behind monkey bread is that it’s an ideal dessert or snack for “sharing,” but who says you have to plan to serve this to other people. Treat. Yo. Self.
Do you have an irrational fear of making (or, more specifically, failing at) pie crusts? No? That’s just us? Cool, whatever. This chocolate pie uses a fool-proof, pressed shortbread crust anyway, though, for any other scaredy cats out there.
Do bananas even have a season? Maybe they used to, but can you think of a single time in your life when you’ve entered a grocery store and not seen perfectly ripe bananas? Right. So this bananas foster recipe, complete with flaming rum step, is here for you 365.
The beauty of the icebox cake is that you can just leave the leftovers in the icebox. Bam. You have a chocolatey, peanut-buttery fix waiting for you in the freezer whenever you get an itch.
We stand by that bananas-for-all-seasons assertion. Plus, these paletas have just a touch of dark rum hidden in there, and we’re big advocates of putting booze in your ice cream.
There’s hardly a combination of flavors more guaranteed to be lethally delicious than dark chocolate and espresso. Call this a layer cake even though it only has one.
We’d call this a “grown-up” ice cream sandwich, because there’s booze in it, but that claim doesn’t really hold up since the crew from Coolhaus went ahead and threw Lucky Charms marshmallows in it. Whatever, you’re an adult—you can eat all the sugary cereal you want! TAKE THAT, MOM!!!
This is it. We’ve reached the pinnacle of the “dessert when nothing’s in season” category. Back in the day, when lemons weren’t so easy to get your hands on in places like the American frontier, resourceful people used vinegar to add that little bit of tartness that their baked goods would otherwise be lacking. So trust us, this is a tried and true way for getting through the winter to the bounty of spring.