Ginger Peach Crisp

This ginger peach crisp recipe is made with a warm ginger-vanilla peach filling and topped with a crispy almond oat topping. Does it get much better than a hot bowl of peach crisp and a melty scoop of cold vanilla ice cream on a summer day? ♡ My go-to ginger peach crisp recipe is one […]

This ginger peach crisp recipe is made with a warm ginger-vanilla peach filling and topped with a crispy almond oat topping.

Ginger Peach Crisp

Does it get much better than a hot bowl of peach crisp and a melty scoop of cold vanilla ice cream on a summer day? ♡

My go-to ginger peach crisp recipe is one of those summertime faves I look forward to all year long. The moment that fresh, ripe, juicy peaches finally arrive on the scene, we turn on the oven (ever so briefly) to bake up a hot and bubbly pan to serve after dinner as the evening sunshine lingers. Then any leftovers are — of course — absolutely happening for breakfast the next morning. But once you finish up one pan, somehow another gathering always has a way of popping up that calls for one more batch, followed by more peachy breakfasts, followed by one more batch…and the delicious cycle keeps going. I mean, once you get going with this ginger peach crisp, why stop?

I’m especially partial to this particular recipe because it’s quick and easy to prep, it’s naturally gluten-free and vegan, and the addition of fresh ginger makes all of the flavors here absolutely shine. It’s also a very flexible recipe, so feel free to sub in different kinds of fruit, nuts or seasonings that you love best. And if you really want to go decadent, I also sometimes serve this peach crisp drizzled with my favorite bourbon caramel sauce, which our friends and family absolutely adore.

So round up a few pounds of peaches while they’re still in season, and let’s bake up a delicious crisp together tonight!

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How to Soften Brown Sugar

Excited to make a recipe only to discover that your brown sugar is hard as a rock? Learn how to soften brown sugar with 4 simple methods, plus a tip for keeping your brown sugar soft so this never happens again. This post contains affiliate links. If you think that being a full-time baking blogger …

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Excited to make a recipe only to discover that your brown sugar is hard as a rock? Learn how to soften brown sugar with 4 simple methods, plus a tip for keeping your brown sugar soft so this never happens again.

Several white bowls on a marble countertop filled with soft brown sugar and hard brown sugar clumps.

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If you think that being a full-time baking blogger means that I always have things together in the kitchen, please think again.

I can’t tell you how often I have to throw together a buttermilk substitute because I forgot to pick up buttermilk at the store, or how often I need to reference my own post on how to make self-rising flour.

Knowing some simple baking tips and tricks has saved me a trip to the store more times than I can count.

I recently used my brown sugar substitute to throw together a batch of brown sugar after forgetting to buy some. As I was mixing it together, I realized that I’ve never shared with you how to soften brown sugar.

Give these tricks a try next time you find yourself staring at a bag of rock-hard brown sugar.

White bowl filled with hard clumps of brown sugar.

BAKING PREDICAMENT: HARDENED BROWN SUGAR

I think we’ve all probably been in this situation. You are excited to be making banana oat muffins or grilled peaches, but when you open up your container of brown sugar, you find that it is lumpy and hard as a rock.

Brown sugar needs moisture to stay often. It hardens when the moisture in the sugar evaporates.

I used to think that was it, end of story. Time to throw it out and buy a new bag of brown sugar.

But not only is that a waste of money, it’s also totally not true! 

Not only is it possible to soften brown sugar, there are multiple ways to do it using things you probably already have in your kitchen.

So next time you’re making brown sugar simple syrup or  overnight cinnamon rolls (or the famous TikTok cinnamon rolls with heavy cream), don’t stress if your brown sugar has hardened. 

Hand stirring soft brown sugar in a white bowl with a fork.

HOW TO SOFTEN BROWN SUGAR

There are 4 methods for softening brown sugar that I really love, plus a bonus 5th method that works with some caveats.

All of these methods bring moisture back into the sugar. Some do so quickly, while others take a bit of time. They all work well, so pick the one that works best based on what you have available and how much time you have to work with.

While there are other methods out there, these are my favorites and the ones I think work best.

Hand placing a damp paper towel over the top of a white bowl.

The microwave method

If you need to know how to soften brown sugar quickly, the microwave method is for you. This is definitely the fastest method, so it’s great if you need soft brown sugar right now.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Place the hard brown sugar in a microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Wet a paper towel and wring it out so it’s slightly damp.
  3. Cover the bowl with the damp paper towel and microwave in 10-second increments until the brown sugar is crumbly again, using a fork between intervals to help break up the sugar.
Hand using a fork to break up clumps of brown sugar in a white bowl.

How long will this take? Well, it’ll depend on how much brown sugar you’re trying to soften and just how hard and dry it is.

Be patient and don’t get discouraged if you don’t see much progress after the first couple of intervals. Keep going – all of a sudden, you’ll find yourself stirring beautifully soft brown sugar again.

Hand placing a lid on an airtight container. Through the lid you can see a slice of bread inside.

The bread method

This next trick sounds weird, but I promise that it works. 

For this one, all you have to do is place a slice of fresh bread in an airtight container with the hardened brown sugar.

Let the bread sit in the sugar container for about a day. At that point, the sugar will have absorbed enough moisture from the bread to become soft again.

Use a fork to break up any remaining clumps of sugar and remove the bread so it doesn’t mold.

Clumps of hard brown sugar on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

The oven method

The oven method isn’t as quick as the microwave method, but it is still a good trick for softening brown sugar pretty quickly. And it works well if you don’t have a microwave handy.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Place the hard brown sugar on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  2. Place the baking sheet in a 250°F oven.
  3. Check on the brown sugar every few minutes and break it up with a fork. Return it to the oven and repeat until the brown sugar is soft.
  4. Let the brown sugar cool slightly before using in your recipe.

DO NOT try to speed up this process by raising the oven temperature! Just like with the microwave method, it’s hard to predict how long it will take, so be patient and keep at it.

Fork stirring soft brown sugar on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

The terra cotta method

This method is the only trick that might require you to buy some special equipment, since it uses a piece of terra cotta.

You can purchase special terra cotta brown sugar savers – disks of terra cotta that are the right size to pop into a container of brown sugar. You can also purchase special brown sugar storage containers that have a spot in the lid made to hold a terra cotta disk.

If you have a small, clean terra cotta plant saucer, you could use that instead, but you want to make sure that it has never been used for plants and that it will fit in your brown sugar container. 

I think it’s easier to buy the disks made for this purpose, since the size is better and you know they’re nice and clean.

Hand placing a disk of terra cotta in a bowl of water next to a container with hard brown sugar lumps in it.

To use terra cotta to soften your brown sugar:

  1. Soak the terra cotta disk in water for 20 minutes.
  2. Pat the terra cotta dry with a clean towel to remove excess water.
  3. Place the dry disk in an airtight container with the brown sugar. The terra cotta will revive the sugar in about a day, or keep new brown sugar from drying out.

BONUS! The apple method

I promised you 4 methods, but here’s a bonus 5th method!

I am listing it as a bonus method because it does come with some caveats.

Use the same instructions as the bread method, but use a few apple slices instead of a slice of bread. 

Place the apple slices in an airtight container with the brown sugar and give it about a day to do its job. Make sure you remove the apples after the brown sugar has softened.

Here are the caveats: The apples can get pretty mushy and it can transfer some of its flavor to the brown sugar. (So it would be fine for making apple coffee cake but maybe not in other recipes.)

Definitely keep all of that in mind if you plan to give the apple method a try!

Soft brown sugar inside of a closed airtight container.

HOW TO KEEP BROWN SUGAR SOFT

It’s helpful to know how to soften brown sugar, but it’s even more helpful to know how to keep it soft so it never hardens to begin with!

Always store brown sugar in an airtight container, rather than the bag or box it came in. That will help extend its shelf life quite a bit.

Some people will keep a slice of bread in their brown sugar container to keep it soft, but that’s a mold situation waiting to happen if you ask me.

In my opinion, the best way to keep brown sugar soft is to use the terra cotta method. The soaked terra cotta kept in an airtight container will help maintain the correct moisture level for your brown sugar.

The terra cotta will keep your brown sugar soft for 3-6 months. Make sure you re-soak it as needed according to the manufacturer’s directions. 

That way, you never have to worry about rock-hard brown sugar again and you always have perfectly soft brown sugar for all of your favorite recipes!

White bowls on a marble countertop. One is filled with soft brown sugar, another is filled with hard brown sugar clumps.

How to Soften Brown Sugar

Excited to make a recipe only to discover that your brown sugar is hard as a rock? Soften your hardened brown sugar with these 4 simple methods.

Materials

  • Hardened brown sugar

Tools

Instructions

Microwave method

  1. Place the hard brown sugar in a microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Wet a paper towel and wring it out so it’s slightly damp.
  3. Cover the bowl with the damp paper towel and microwave in 10-second increments until the brown sugar is crumbly again, using a fork between intervals to help break up the sugar.

Bread method

  1. Place a slice of fresh bread in an airtight container with the hardened brown sugar.
  2. Let bread sit for about a day. Use a fork to break up any remaining clumps of sugar and remove the bread so it doesn’t mold.

Oven method

  1. Place the hard brown sugar on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  2. Place the baking sheet in a 250°F oven.
  3. Check on the brown sugar every few minutes and break it up with a fork. Return it to the oven and repeat until the brown sugar is soft.
  4. Let the brown sugar cool slightly before using in your recipe.

Terra cotta method

  1. Soak a terra cotta disk in water for 20 minutes.
  2. Pat the terra cotta dry with a clean towel to remove excess water.
  3. Place the dry disk in an airtight container with the brown sugar. The terra cotta will revive the sugar in about a day, or keep new brown sugar from drying out.

Did you make this project?

Show me! Tag me on social. @jamiemba

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Grilled Peaches

Grilled peaches are a fun and easy way to celebrate one of summer’s best fruits. Topped with brown sugar and spices, these peaches are amazing when served with a scoop of ice cream and a drizzle of honey. This post contains affiliate links. One of our favorite summer fruits is peaches. However, the ones that …

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Grilled peaches are a fun and easy way to celebrate one of summer’s best fruits. Topped with brown sugar and spices, these peaches are amazing when served with a scoop of ice cream and a drizzle of honey.

Honey being drizzled over grilled peach halves arranged on a wooden platter.

This post contains affiliate links.

One of our favorite summer fruits is peaches. However, the ones that we typically purchase from the grocery store here in Ohio are totally hit or miss. 

Some are delicious and some are bland and mealy. If you’ve ever bitten into a mealy peach, you know why my daughter thought she disliked fresh peaches for an entire summer when she was around 3. 

A few years ago, we ordered fresh peaches from The Peach Truck, but your girl is not made to wait in long lines to pick up a crate of peaches that seemingly go bad within a few days, so I wisened up and ordered a dozen at a time from their website along with their peach jam.

I know mail order peaches may seem a little ridiculous to some, but to us, those peaches are worth every single penny. And if you’ve ever had one, you know exactly what I am talking about – they are truly peach perfection. 

We typically enjoy the peaches fresh, but we also love whipping up peach desserts like these simple grilled peaches. Top them off with ice cream or whipped cream for a sweet and delicious summer dessert.

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Strawberry Pretzel Salad

Strawberry pretzel salad is a vintage classic. This jello salad features a buttery pretzel crust, tangy cream cheese filling, and a sweet strawberry topping.  Let me start out this post for Strawberry Pretzel Salad by saying I know this is not a salad. But it’s been a midwest staple dessert for as long as I …

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Strawberry pretzel salad is a vintage classic. This jello salad features a buttery pretzel crust, tangy cream cheese filling, and a sweet strawberry topping. 

White plate with a slice of strawberry pretzel salad on it. The dessert is topped with whipped cream and a pretzel.

Let me start out this post for Strawberry Pretzel Salad by saying I know this is not a salad. But it’s been a midwest staple dessert for as long as I can remember.

I fondly remember making this with my Nana for all types of occasions. I have lost my Nana’s exact recipe, but recreated it using the same ingredients from her classic sweet-and-salty dessert.

A buttery, salty pretzel crust layered with a no-bake style cheesecake filling and topped with Jell-o and strawberries. As you can imagine, this strawberry pretzel salad speaks to my cheesecake-loving heart.

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Strawberry Pie Filling

This strawberry pie filling is quick and easy to make, whether you plan to use it as a pie filling or a topping! This recipe is made without jello and lets the sweet flavor of summer-ripe strawberries shine through. This post contains affiliate links. This has been the Summer of Strawberries around here. Whether they’re …

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This strawberry pie filling is quick and easy to make, whether you plan to use it as a pie filling or a topping! This recipe is made without jello and lets the sweet flavor of summer-ripe strawberries shine through.

Mini strawberry pies in graham cracker crusts topped with whipped cream.

This post contains affiliate links.

This has been the Summer of Strawberries around here.

Whether they’re in strawberry popsicles, piled on top of ricotta cheesecake, or a part of a fresh fruit salsa with cinnamon tortilla chips, I can’t get enough strawberries this year.

So it only makes sense that I would want to throw together a simple strawberry pie filling to really let those beautiful strawberries shine, right??

Forget canned strawberry pie filling – this recipe is so easy and tastes so much better!

Glass jar filled with strawberry pie filling, surrounded by fresh strawberries.
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Cinnamon Tortilla Chips

Buttery, crunchy, and sweet from plenty of cinnamon sugar, these cinnamon tortilla chips are the perfect partner for summery fruit salsa, ice cream, or any sweet dip. This post contains affiliate links. When I was in college, the Mediterranean restaurant that I worked at had a pretty long list of desserts ranging from Baklava to bakery-style …

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Buttery, crunchy, and sweet from plenty of cinnamon sugar, these cinnamon tortilla chips are the perfect partner for summery fruit salsa, ice cream, or any sweet dip.

Cinnamon tortilla chips scattered on a white platter.

This post contains affiliate links.

When I was in college, the Mediterranean restaurant that I worked at had a pretty long list of desserts ranging from Baklava to bakery-style slices of chocolate cake. 

Although I love both of those options, the dessert that I remember and miss the most was a simple sundae with vanilla bean ice cream, triangles of fried pita bread tossed in cinnamon sugar, whipped cream and the sauce of your choice. I typically opted for caramel sauce and a few maraschino cherries. 

As simple as it is, I have never thought about recreating this simple sundae at home until recently when I picked up a bag of store-bought cinnamon pita chips from the grocery store on a whim. 

I decided I wanted to try that simple dessert with cinnamon-sugar tortilla chips, too, but couldn’t find any. No worries – I knew I could make them at home!

Plus, I knew they’d be the perfect pairing with the fruit salsa I’ve been obsessed with! Win-win.

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Fruit Salsa

A perfect blend of fresh fruit combines with strawberry jam and orange juice to create a deliciously sweet and summery fruit salsa. If there’s one thing about me that’s constant all summer long, it’s that I am going to overbuy fruit every single time I pass our local farm stand or even venture into the …

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A perfect blend of fresh fruit combines with strawberry jam and orange juice to create a deliciously sweet and summery fruit salsa.

Cinnamon chip in a bowl of fruit salsa, with more cinnamon chips in the background.

If there’s one thing about me that’s constant all summer long, it’s that I am going to overbuy fruit every single time I pass our local farm stand or even venture into the grocery store. 

From ripe summer berries, peaches, nectarines and grapes, our fruit bowl and fridge are loaded all summer. 

But sometimes we end up with a little more than we eat. 

Although we love using extra fruit in smoothies, yogurt parfaits, and homemade fruit sauces, we also love whipping up a batch of fruit salsa.

It’s super sweet, fresh, and loaded with delicious summer flavors. Serve it up with ice cream, yogurt, on shortcake with whipped cream, or with cinnamon tortilla chips. 

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Hot Fudge Sauce Recipe

This homemade hot fudge sauce recipe couldn’t be easier or more delicious. It’s sure to be your favorite ice cream topping all summer long. When I was a kid, we briefly lived with my great grandmother, Lottie. She was a magnificent woman and an incredible cook. I was quite young – about 5 or so, …

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This homemade hot fudge sauce recipe couldn’t be easier or more delicious. It’s sure to be your favorite ice cream topping all summer long.

Spoon drizzling hot fudge sauce back into a jar of the sauce.

When I was a kid, we briefly lived with my great grandmother, Lottie. She was a magnificent woman and an incredible cook. I was quite young – about 5 or so, but I have some pretty vivid memories of the time we spent in her home.

I remember sitting at her dining room table and coloring for hours with the crayons she kept in an old coffee can, and an old fashioned rotary phone that sat on her perfectly organized desk. 

Her home was immaculate and I remember giggling every time she told me to keep my feet off of her davenport.

She had a drawer devoted to her beloved baking tools, and even went so far as to purchase a set of miniature tools just for me. She’d neatly pull my hair back and keep it out of my face with a babushka, and then put a ball of dough in front of me. 

We’d sit at the kitchen table for hours, rolling dough and cutting perfect circles with the top of a glass. Then we’d fill, fold, and crimp each of the dough circles to create the most amazing pierogies.

On summer evenings, we’d all load up into the car and head to the ice cream parlor.

I was always a caramel sundae kind of girl, but I remember snagging bites of my dad’s Tin Roof Sundaes that were slathered in the most incredible hot fudge sauce. And even though I’ve never been much of a hot fudge kind of girl myself, Elle can’t get enough of all things chocolate.

And during the summers she is all about ice cream, especially when it’s topped with a bit of chocolate sauce, Reddi Wip, sprinkles, and – of course – a cherry.

Whether you’re out of the jarred stuff or just craving a rich, chocolatey, homemade treat for your favorite ice cream, this homemade hot fudge sauce should definitely be on your summer bucket list!

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S’mores Pie

S’mores pie comes together in 10 minutes and is the perfect no-bake dessert for summer. Who could possibly resist a slice of this s’mores goodness? This post contains affiliate links. One of the things I enjoy most is coming up with recipes that literally anyone can make – including my 8-year-old daughter. It’s so much fun …

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S’mores pie comes together in 10 minutes and is the perfect no-bake dessert for summer. Who could possibly resist a slice of this s’mores goodness?

Close up of a slice of s'mores pie on a white plate.

This post contains affiliate links.

One of the things I enjoy most is coming up with recipes that literally anyone can make – including my 8-year-old daughter.

It’s so much fun to get in the kitchen with her and watch her make a batch of classic rice krispie treats or no-bake cookies all on her own. 

I know that not everyone grew up learning to cook and bake from their parents or grandparents, so I love knowing that so many of the recipes here on MBA, including this s’mores pie, are easy enough for any beginner baker to make.

And you know what? Sometimes, even as an advanced baker, I just want a chocolate pie that I can throw together in about 10 minutes.

So whether you’re just learning to bake, are teaching a kiddo to bake, or have been baking for years, I have a feeling you’ll want to keep this recipe close at hand.

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Layered Pistachio Pudding Dessert

Cool, creamy, and full of nutty pistachio flavor, this Layered Pistachio Pudding Dessert is both delicious and beautiful! This is one simple dessert that your family will ask for again and again. INTRO WHAT IS PISTACHIO PUDDING DESSERT? You took the best things about no-bake cheesecake, eclair cake, vanilla pudding, and watergate salad and put …

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Cool, creamy, and full of nutty pistachio flavor, this Layered Pistachio Pudding Dessert is both delicious and beautiful! This is one simple dessert that your family will ask for again and again.

Slice of pistachio pudding dessert on a white plate, with the rest of the layered dessert in the background.

INTRO

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