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3 dessert recipes you can make outdoors

Photo Credit: Derick Jaros

Southern Kitchen's cast iron skillet chocolate chip cookie

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3 dessert recipes you can make outdoors

With longer daylight hours upon us, dining outdoors becomes an extended ritual throughout the summer in the South. As the sun sets on your outdoor dinner party, don't head indoors for the sweet finish -- just make these three timeless dessert recipes kids and adults alike will enjoy at the patio table, on a picnic blanket or by the campfire.

Butterfinger Lush

Chocolate and peanut butter are such a fantastic combination, but a multi-layered confection with different textures that highlights the two star flavors is a can’t-miss summertime treat. You’ll need a night to allow this to properly set up in the refrigerator before serving, but your patience will be well-rewarded. The dense peanut butter mousse against the creamy chocolate pudding provides a decadent mouthfeel that's only somewhat lightened by fluffy whipped cream. If you’d prefer more texture on top than offered by crushed Butterfinger bars, chopped peanuts and chocolate chips make a fantastic addition.
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Cast Iron Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie
Why make individual cookies when one giant, almost-cake-like cookie can be much more of a showstopper? Using a cast iron skillet will reward you with a crispy exterior and that gooey center that most of us crave in a cookie, except this will be much larger and worthy of cutting into thick wedges. If you’re hosting a crowd, make the cookie dough prior to your guests’ arrival, form it into the skillet, then bake closer to your desired serving time. Feel free to play around with the ratio of chocolate chips or add nuts if you prefer.
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Homemade Marshmallows
If you want to take your s’mores game to the next level, try making your own marshmallows. Working with boiling sugar may seem intimidating; however, once your sugar reaches 240 degrees, you’re simply pouring boiling sugar, with the addition of gelatin, into whipped egg whites, then whipping them until thick and fluff-like. When you go to cut the marshmallows into shapes -- or even spread them from the mixing bowl to the pan -- place a small amount of oil on your hands, then on your spatula and knife to prevent sticking. A pizza cutter would also be a fine tool to cut the marshmallows. One big advantage to making your own marshmallows: you're guaranteed a flat surface, which fits naturally on a graham cracker.
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Author image

Chef Jeffrey Gardner is a native of Natchez, Miss., and a graduate of Millsaps College and Johnson & Wales University. He lives in Atlanta and has served as sous chef for popular restaurants South City Kitchen Midtown and Alma Cocina. In 2013 he became executive chef for East Cobb restaurant Common Quarter and was named one of ten “Next Generation of Chefs to Watch” by the Atlanta Business Chronicle. He has appeared on TV shows including Food Network’s Chopped and Cooking Channel’s How to Live to 100, and also filmed a series of healthy cooking videos with retired pro wrestler and fitness guru Diamond Dallas Page. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling the world with his wife Wendy, watching game shows and “spending all his money on Bruce Springsteen concerts.”

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