Last week I was writing about slushies, a summer staple, and this week I had my mind stuck on dessert dips.

Are you a fan of dessert dips? I don’t mean just that sweet cream cheese dip that comes with a fruit platter, or the chocolate dipping sauce that might come with a fruit platter, or even the caramel sauce that people might put out with a fruit platter. I have nothing against fruit, I just want to see something a little more creative.

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First up I have this s’mores dip, where you make a simple, rich ganache with semi-sweet (or try bittersweet) chocolate chips and hot heavy cream, then you cover it with mini marshmallows and broil it in the oven to get that nice toasty top. You can serve it with graham cracker quarters for a very traditional s’mores, or try a pretzel chip for a little sweet and salty combination, or a shortbread cookie for something totally different. A friend brought this dip to a fall cookout and it was one of those things that we adults could not stop eating.

Carrie's Kitchen: A quartet of slushies to cool down with this summer

On some days I like to fantasize about a more indulgent cold drink. About something much more fun than a drink: a slushie.

Next, I’m a sucker for a good key lime pie, so I am excited to make this key lime pie cheesecake dip. This is great for those times when you don’t want to make a whole cheesecake, but you just want a smaller portion of that flavor profile to keep you from ordering a 1,000-calorie dessert at a restaurant. Eat it with fruit, if you wish, or again, go for the graham crackers, maybe even a chocolate graham cracker? And if no one’s looking … a spoon.

Next, I’m not the biggest fan of nuts in desserts but I know others are, so I wanted to share this recipe for butter pecan cookie dough dip. This has a rich buttery flavor with a hint of maple, toasted pecans and is a great topper to actual butter cookies.

And finally, I’ve never been a fan of banana cream pie, but I would be much more likely to take a taste of banana cream pie dip. This is another super easy dip, where you make the pudding, make a sweetened cream cheese with sweetened condensed milk, combine to two mixtures, and then layer the thickened pudding with sliced bananas and whipped topping and a crumbly mixture on top of whatever you’re going to serve it with — preferably vanilla wafers for that nostalgic, blank-canvas backdrop.

Each of these dips makes a kind of a small portion for a crowd, so you could use it for a dinner party, or plan to double it if you’re having a big cookout. Now I can’t wait until the Fourth of July to serve these up. Better start stocking up on graham crackers and butter cookies now!

Enjoy!

Easy S’mores dip

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 cups mini marshmallows

Graham crackers, cookies, or pretzels for dipping

Place chocolate chips in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a microwave safe bowl, heat heavy cream in 30-second increments until hot. Pour heavy cream over chocolate chips and allow to melt for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir until chocolate is completely melted.

Pour chocolate into a metal 9-inch pie pan. Top with mini marshmallows.

Place in the oven and turn on the broiler. Broil for 3 to 4 minutes, or until marshmallows are toasted to your liking. Remove from oven and enjoy with graham crackers, cookies or pretzels for dipping.

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Key lime pie cheesecake dip

8 ounces cream cheese, softened at room temperature

1/2 cup sugar (or more or less to taste)

3 tablespoons lime juice (from 2 small limes or 3 key limes)

Zest of 2 small limes

1 pinch vanilla bean powder (or ½ teaspoon vanilla extract)

1 pinch salt (optional)

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Graham crackers, cookies, and/or fruit for dipping

Cream together the cream cheese, sugar, lime juice, lime zest, vanilla bean powder, and salt using a stand-up mixer for about 2 minutes. Taste and see if it needs more sugar or more lime juice and adjust as needed.

Add the whipping cream and mix on medium speed until the cream is fully incorporated with the cream cheese mixture. Transfer to a serving bowl and chill for 30 minutes, or until serving. Serve with graham crackers, cookies, or fresh fruit for dipping.

Butter pecan cookie dough dip

1 cup whole pecans

4 tablespoons butter, softened

1/4 cup sugar white

1 teaspoon maple extract

1 tablespoon milk

1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

14 butter cookies or more, for serving

Add pecans to a skillet and heat over medium heat until dark brown, stirring frequently. Let cool. Use a nut grinder to grind the pecans, or place in a sealable plastic bag and roll with a rolling pin.

Beat butter and sugar in a mixing bowl for 3 minutes, scraping down sides as necessary. Add maple syrup and milk and beat well.

Add flour and salt in a small bowl and mix well. Add flour to the dough and beat until well mixed . Fold in pecans.

Eat by the spoonful or serve with butter cookies for dipping. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Banana cream pie dip

1 (3.4-ounce) package instant French vanilla pudding

1 1/3 cup whole milk

1 cup sweetened condensed milk

8 ounces whipped topping thawed, divided

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 large bananas

Vanilla wafers for serving

Add milk to instant pudding and mix until thickened. Set aside.

Place cream cheese in bowl of stand mixer. Whip cream cheese until smooth. Add sweetened condensed milk and mix until combined.

Add 3/4 of the whipped topping to the cream cheese mixture and fold in. Fold in the prepared pudding until combined.

Pour 1/2 of the mixture into a pie dish or other shallow dish. Slice one large banana into thin slices and then cut slices in half circles. Layer on top of the pudding mixture. Top bananas with other half of the mixture.

Top pudding with last 1/4 of the whipped topping. Crush about 6 vanilla wafers and sprinkle around the edge of the dip. Slice the remaining banana and place along the edge in a decorative fashion. Serve dip immediately with vanilla wafers.

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