Philacatessen | Simplest No-Bake Dessert Starring Local Fruit


I love a good dessert, but they often involve complex multistep recipes that require hot ovens —which are not conducive to summer’s heat.

Not so this gem, which I created after seeing a photo of a graham cracker/fruit/cream strata sweep across my screen last week.

The beauty of this recipe is threefold: 1. It is versatile — use whatever fruit is in season and available at the market. 2. It is quick and easy, with just five ingredients and a few minutes to assemble. 3. It delivers both sophistication — call it “American Trifle” for a fancy dinner party —and simplicity — offer it to kids as “cookies and cream.” OK, maybe fourfold, as it’s absolutely delicious.

I made my “American Trifle/Cookies and Cream” with blueberries because there was an abundance of them at my local farmers market. But strawberries, cherries, raspberries, peaches, apricots and even mangoes would be great. This is best made several hours ahead so the graham crackers have a chance to absorb the cream and take on a soft cake-like texture.

a dessert of graham crackers, fruit and whipped cream
Photo by Keri White

Simplest Summer No-Bake Dessert

Serves 8

  • 1½ cups heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar (plus more if fruit needs sweetening)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2½ cups blueberries or other seasonal fruit, rinsed and sprinkled with a bit of sugar if needed. (Note: If you are using larger fruit such as peaches or plums, peel them, cut them into small pieces and reserve the juice to add to the dish)
  • 1 package graham crackers


Whip the cream until soft peaks form. Add sugar and vanilla, and whip again until cream holds its shape and is a bit stiff. (Do not over whip or it will turn to butter.)

In the bottom of a square pan, spread a thin layer of cream. Top the cream with a single layer of graham crackers, breaking them as needed to cover the cream completely, and press gently to embed the crackers in the cream.

Spread another layer of cream, and top it with fruit and juice. Cover it with graham crackers, pressing gently again to condense the layers slightly. Repeat this process until you reach the top of the dish; end on a layer of cream.

Cover and refrigerate for several hours.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here