Ina Garten's 4-Ingredient Dessert Is Perfect For Lazy Summer Nights

If her fans have learned anything from Ina Garten, it's that dishes don't have to be complicated to be delicious. If the right ingredients are used, even the simplest of meals can be sublime. This goes for desserts, too. And when summer hits and the days are hot and long, the last thing anyone wants is to be stuck at the stove or oven cooking or baking. That leaves many of us looking for uncomplicated dishes that use few ingredients and don't take much time to make. Garten's recipe for frozen berries with hot white chocolate checks all the right boxes for times like this.

It takes just four ingredients: frozen berries, white chocolate, vanilla, and heavy cream. This simple dessert requires a little bit of planning ahead, but once the berries are frozen, putting together the rest is a snap and can be done in minutes. You'll have plenty of time to enjoy that perfect summer evening weather on your patio — balcony, veranda, stoop, whatever you have — while enjoying a sweet treat.

Fire and ice

This dessert is basically warm, melted white chocolate poured over frozen berries. Garten uses a mix of blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries, but you can use whatever berries you'd like — or whatever looks great at the farmer's market on any given week. If you want a goblet full of strawberries and nothing else, go for it. If the blackberries look particularly plump and smell sweet, don't pass them up. After prepping them (de-stemming, slicing, etc.), she lays them flat on a sheet pan and puts the pan in the freezer until the berries are frozen. Once this happens, you can store them in a freezer bag if you're not using them right away. And if you can't prep them fresh, as the Contessa herself often states: store-bought is fine.

To make the dessert, melt some white chocolate in a bowl sitting over simmering water (aka a double boiler) together with heavy cream and vanilla. Once it's smooth, remove it from the heat. Place the berries in serving bowls and pour the warm chocolate over them. You'll get a hot and cold contrast between the frozen berries and hot chocolate — and a flavor contrast of tart berries and sweet white chocolate.

Of course, use good ingredients

In addition to using the best ingredients you can find, it is a good idea to use fresh berries whenever you can. Yes, pre-frozen will work just fine in a pinch (or if you're just not feeling like washing, prepping, and freezing a bunch of berries). However, they probably won't be as attractive as freshly frozen ones. It's also important to freeze your berries flat on a pan and not to place them in a freezer bag together while they're fresh. If you do this, they will all freeze together in a clump, and it will be difficult to separate them, leaving your berries broken and your fingertips freezing.

When it comes to the chocolate, you don't want to use white chocolate chips, which contain stabilizers to help them hold their shape. You need the chocolate to melt smoothly, so use a baking-quality bar as it should melt beautifully over gentle heat.

Garten is clearly no stranger to extremely simple desserts, as you can see in her limoncello, ice cream, and biscotti dessert. Of course, a lot of easy summertime desserts revolve around ice cream or gelato — like creamy affogatos. The point is: Desserts don't have to be difficult, time-consuming, or fancy to be delicious and satisfying. Sometimes the best ones are the polar opposite of fancy, which, arguably, makes them even better.