For some of us, the mention of “dessert” whisks us away to a
chocolate-covered fantasy world complete with caramel oceans and hikeable mountains of ice cream. But summer is as good a time as any to remember that there’s more to our favorite meal than those decadent, creamy confections. In much of the world, particularly across warm-weather climes, dessert is a fruit-based affair. Some of our favorite Caribbean, South American, and Southeast Asian recipes are sweet but refreshing treats bursting with the flavors of coconut, pineapple, and more.
Naturally, fruity desserts tout brighter colors that make them
worthy of an Instagram post (bonus points if you snap them in front of a beautiful tropical view). And don’t forget to wash them down with one of our favorite tiki and tropical cocktails. From rum-laced banana fritters to a Filipino fruit salad, finish up a great meal with a few of our favorite desserts that literally grow on trees.
These sandwich cookies, adapted from chef Frederico Ribeiro of New York’s Te Company, are an homage to the classic Taiwanese pineapple cake. Here a super-buttery vanilla bean shortbread gets a nutty dose of hazelnut flour, and sweet pineapple-rosemary jam gets balanced by the spicy, fermented, and grassy flavor of Japanese yuzu kosho paste.
Get the recipe for Pineapple Tea Cookies »
Rice Cakes Stuffed with Coconut and Brown Sugar (Yi Bua)
Slow-cooking pineapple whole on the grill concentrates and enriches its flavors while keeping the fruit tasting bright. “The pineapple must be very ripe,” Mallmann says. “If not, it’s useless. The slower you do it, the better.”
Get the recipe for Four-Hour Pineapple »
This cake is brought to the next level with a caramel topping.
Get the recipe for Colameco’s Pineapple Upside Down Cake »
With their powerful coconut flavor, chewy texture, and crisp edges, these gluten- and dairy-free all-coconut bar cookies (made with coconut extract, oil, and flour) are the ultimate macaron.
Get the recipe for Coconut “Macaroonies” »
Use very ripe organic bananas for these silver-dollar-size fritters, as they will mash the best and create a smooth, sweet batter.
Get the recipe for Banana Fritters with Cinnamon-Sugar and Rum »
This custardy ice cream gets its tropical flavor from paw paws, a musky-sweet fruit native to the American Midwest that tastes somewhere between a banana and a mango, with a plush, creamy texture.
Get the recipe for Paw Paw Ice Cream »
This passion-fruit-drizzled cake gets its tangy moist crumb from yogurt.
Get the recipe for Yogurt Bundt Cake with Passion Fruit Sauce »
Get the recipe for Thai Black Sticky Rice Pudding with Coconut Cream »
Thick Italian meringue is sandwiched between moist layers of cake, which is topped off with sweetened shredded coconut in this recipe from chef Thomas Keller.
Get the recipe for Thomas Keller’s Coconut Cake »
This great recipe from Philadelphia’s Moonstruck restaurant showcases the bite-size coconut cream balls rolled in cinnamon, sugar, and cocoa.
Get the recipe for Chocolate Coconut Balls »
Anna Watson Carl relies on sweetened condensed milk to add richness to this frozen dessert flavored with coconut milk, lime zest, and toasty pistachios. Simply macerated peaches provide a fresh, fruity counterpart.
At Portland, Oregon’s
Måurice restaurant, pastry chef Kristen Murray layers sponge cake with buttercream and white chocolate ganache, and garnishes the torte with honeyed pineapple slices and candied pine nuts.
A simple and satisfying loaf cake, mango bread combines fresh and pureed mango with walnuts and shredded coconut for a treat that can be enjoyed any time of day.
Get the recipe for Mango Bread »
These lightly spicy coconut cookies are somewhere between a classic American macaroon and a Mexican street snack.
Get the recipe for Chile-Lime Macaroons »
Coconut Lime Custard Pie
“When I introduce this dish to my friends for the first time, they are confused and a little hesitant to eat it. Once they try it, though, they fall in love.” – Leah Cohen of
Pig & Khao. Get the recipe for Phillippine Fruit Salad »
Coconut milk gives these donuts from Seattle’s Top Pot donut shop a super-moist interior and a gratifying crust.
Get the recipe for Top Pot Triple Coconut Donuts »
Spiced Mango Sorbet with Pistachio Tuiles