Photo by Maria Robledo
To make all the elements of an ideal dessert, click here for instructions for stovetop-cooked fruit; here for roasted fruit; here for easy butter dough; and here for a guide on how to roll and cut the dough.
My taste in desserts leans toward rather sloppy, warm desserts I can eat out of a wide shallow soup bowl with a large soup spoon. So I've devised an approach I call Bowl and Spoon Desserts: freeform assemblages of cooked fruit with various embellishments, depending on my mood and how much time I have.
By "cooked fruit" I'm talking about warm fruits that taste like the inside of a pie. This can be as simple as briefly cooking berries with some sugar, lemon juice, and a split vanilla bean on the stove top until they melt slightly and their juices run. (The vanilla bean amplifies the fruit's own sweetness and perfume.) Or it might take the form of roasted fruit such as pears or peaches. Roasting tends to bring the out the best in fruits. The dry heat concentrates the flavors and caramelizes natural sugars. The flesh becomes soft and creamy.
I pile the cooked warm fruit into a bowl and embellish it in endless ways: with a scoop of ice cream, frozen yogurt or sorbet; or a sauce (such as whipped cream, crème fraiche, or one made from another fruit); and/or sometimes a prebaked pastry lid, or a thin butter cookie, which turns it into a freeform upside-down tart.