A Simple Dictionary of Fruit Desserts

DSC_0630Last week on Facebook (we are friends on Facebook, right?), I posted a short list of the fruit desserts and asked others to add to them. Fourteen desserts were on the list. Together we came up with about a dozen more. Like the true food geek that I am, I took that list and kept going with it.

Here is what I hope to be a helpful list of desserts that use fruit in one form or another. What started with 14 desserts now is pushing close to the 100 mark. I’ve included some items like jams and jellies which are frequently used in desserts. and I have also listed a few very common desserts–like pies, cobblers and crisps. When you hear them you know what the recipe is, and you have some idea if it’s something you’ll like or not. But, what about a slump, a flummery or a sonker? Will you like those? What are they? Well, this list is as complete as I could come up with. Even better, each dessert has a link to an example recipe (with a few from this site). Most of the links are from other blogs instead of the big sites we are all familiar with (although there are a few links to those sites too).


I have no illusion that this a complete list, although I would like to continue to add to it with your help. If you know of a dessert that is not included here, and I’m sure there are many, please let me know the name of the desert you want to add as well as a description and a link to an example recipe in the comments. I will add to the list as I get them. If you see an inaccuracy in the definition of a dessert also let me know in the comments. Thanks!

The List:

Baked Whole Fruit: Whole apples are cored and filled with sugar and spices and baked. Recipe: Baked Apples from Simply Recipes

Bread Pudding: Bread cubes are soaked with a mixture of eggs, milk, sugar and (frequently) dried or fresh fruit and baked. Recipe: Peach Bread Pudding from Foodness Gracious

Brown Betty: An American dessert made from fruit which is layered and topped with bread crumbs that are combined (usually) with sugar and butter. Recipe: Apple Brown Betty from The Pioneer Woman

Buckle: A cake loaded with so much fresh fruit and sweet crumbly topping that it falls, or buckles in places while baking because the fruit sinks toward the bottom of the cake. Similar to a coffee cake. Recipe: Strawbery Rhubarb Buckle from Brooklyn Atlas

Butter: Fruit puree, and spices cooked down to a smooth spreadable consistency. Makes a good filling for desserts. Recipe: Crock-pot Cherry Butter from Local Kitchen

Cake: See cake cockaigne, layer cake, coffee cake, upside down cake, right-side up cake, fruitcake, etc…

Cake Cockaigne: A thick biscuit-like batter is topped with layers of sliced fruit then cinnamon and sugar and baked. The name was coined by Erma Rombauer in The Joy of Cooking to designated her favorite recipes. Recipe: Apple Cake Cockaigne from Jamie is at Home

Candied: Fruit cooked in a dense syrup which preserves the fruit. Candied fruits are used in cakes and cookies. Recipe: Making Glazed Fruit: Citron from David Lebovitz

Charlotte: A dessert with a sponge cake or lady finger outer layer and a custard and fruit inner layer. A Charlotte Royal uses a Swiss Roll cake on the outside while a Charlotte Russe uses ladyfingers. Recipe: Raspberry Charlotte from What She’s Having

Clafouti or Clafoutis: A dessert traditionally made with cherries. The fruit is arranged at the bottom of a baking dish then covered with a batter rich in eggs and milk and then baked. Recipe: Cherry Clafoutis from Joy of Baking

Cobbler: While this dish is usually a dish of baked fruit with sweet biscuit-like dumplings baked into the fruit, it can (usually in the American South) also refer to a deep-dish fruit pie with bottom and/or top pie crust. Recipe: Summer Blackberry Cobbler from Woodland Bakery Blog

Coffee Cake: A sweet quick-bread or cake made traditionally for breakfast (to eat with coffee). Coffee cakes vary widely with some versions including fruit-free cinnamon versions, nutty versions and fruity versions. Many coffee cakes have crumb toppings. Recipe: Strawberry Coffee Cake from A Beautiful Bite

Compote: Fresh or dried fruit that is stewed in a liquid of water and sugar. Recipe: Boozy Peach Compote from Bibberche

Conserve: Fruit, usually dried fruit, cooked with sugar. Similar to jam but can also contain nuts and even vegetables. Recipe: Cranberry Pear Conserve with Ginger from Simple Bites

Cookies: Cookies recipes number well into the thousands with variations ranging all over the place. At it’s most basic, a cookie is a small, individual dessert that combines an element of sugar, fat and grain. Known as biscuits outside of the USA and Canada. Recipe: Strawberry Pistachio Thumbprint Cookies from Cookie Monster Cooking

Crepes: Crepes are flat, thin, pancake-like breads usually wrapped around a filling. While crepes can be both savory and sweet, fruit crepes are usually served for breakfast or dessert and often served topped with whipped cream or flaming with ignited liquors. Recipe: Crepes with Strawberries, Peaches and Cinnamon Yogurt from A Couple Cooks

DSC_0081Crisp: Fruit baked with a sweet crumbly, crunchy topping. It is very similar to a crumble although some state that the difference between a crisp and a crumble is that a crisp does not contain oats in the topping. Recipe: Caramel Nut Apple Crisp from It’s Not Easy Eating Green

Crostata: In Italy, where the word comes from, a crostata is a thin cake topped with fruit. More and more in the US, recipes for crostatas are open-faced pies or tarts that are free-form with the edges turned over the filling similar to a gallette. Recipe: Blackberry Crostata from Honest Cooking

DSC_0372Crumble: Fruit baked with a sweet crispy topping. See crisp. Recipe: Blueberry Crisp with Ground Toasted Almonds from It’s Not Easy Eating Green

Curd: A cooked thick sauce of sugar, eggs, butter and (usually) citrus juice. I’m also including a link to a non-citrus coconut curd recipe from Country Cleaver (because I love coconut and I can). Recipe: Lemon Curd from Eating From The Ground Up

Dessert Pizza: Pizza crust topped with sweet topping such as fruits, nuts and chocolate. Recipe: Strawberries and Cream Dessert Pizza from Kitchen meets Girl

Donut (or Doughnut outside of USA): Sweet dough deep-fried and coated with sugar or icing. Donuts can use either yeast or baking powder/baking soda for leavening. Recipe: Jam Donuts from Butter Baking

Dumplings: Whole, peeled fruit, sugar and spices are wrapped in pastry and baked. Usually served with a caramel sauce. Recipe: Old-Fashioned Apple Dumplings from Platter Talk

Eton Mess: A British dessert of whipped cream, strawberries and meringue served at the English Prep School Eton. Recipe: Summery Berry Eton Mess from Not Derby Pie

Fruit Soup: A soup made of fruit. Usually, but not always, a dessert soup. Recipe: Chilled Strawberry Soup with Vanilla Ice Cream from Strawberry Plum

Flambe: Flambe is a cooking technique where the food is prepared table-side and finished with a liquor which is ignited to allow the alcohol to burn off. Many types of desserts can be flambe such as Baked Alaska, Crepes Suzette and Bananas Foster. Recipe: Bananas Foster from Brennan’s Restaurant

Flummery: A fruit stew thickened with cornstarch, flour or gelatin and served cold and set. Recipe: Blackberry Flummery from The Wednesday Chef

Fool: A fool is a simple dessert of mashed fruit folded into sweetened whipped cream. Although it can be made with any fruit, Gooseberries is traditional. Recipe: Gooseberry Fool from 21st Century Housewife

Frangipane Tart: A tart made with a filling of ground almonds, sugar, cream, eggs and fruit. Also see tart. Recipe: Pear Frangipane Tart from Searching for Dessert

Fritter: Fritters can be savory or sweet. When used to describe a fruit fritter, most often a batter or sweet dough is folded with fruit and then deep fried and glazed with icing. Recipe: Apple Fritters from Dessert for Two

DSC_0240Frozen Yogurt: A frozen dessert of sweetened yogurt which is churned and frozen. It can be mixed with a huge number of toppings including fruit. Very popular as a lightened lower calorie version of ice cream. Recipe: Blueberry Graham Frozen Yogurt from It’s Not Easy Eating Green

the cakeFruitcake: A dense cake of candied fruit and nuts usually made around Christmastime.  It usually includes liquor and some are stored for long periods of time wrapped in liquor soaked fabric. Popular in the UK and USA. Recipe: Modern Fruitcake from It’s Not Easy Eating Green

Galette: An open-faced free-form pie of French origin. Usually the pie crust is folded over the edges of the filling is baked on a baking sheet instead of in a pie plate. Recipe: Blueberry Apricot Galette from 5 Second Rule

Gelatin: Fruit juice and (usually) sugar are mixed with gelatin and chilled for form a gel. Recipe: Homemade Grapefruit or Pomegranate “Jello” from The View from Great Island

Granita: A dairy-free Italian frozen dessert that is not churned but scraped periodically with a fork during the freezing process. Recipe: Lemon Mint Granita from Smitten Kitchen

Grilled Fruit: Fruit that is usually sweetened and then grilled. Recipe: Grilled Figs with Honeyed Mascarpone from The Kitchn

Grunt: A cobbler-like dessert cooked on the stove-top. Fruit is stewed and then topped with cobbler-like biscuits that are then covered and steamed. There are differing explanations on how it got the name grunt. Some say that it got the name because grunt is the sound the fruit makes as it bubbles up between the fruit; others say that grunt is the sound you make when you eat it (um, is that supposed to be a good thing?).  A grunt and a slump are the same thing. Recipe: Summer Berry Grunt from The Merry Gourmet

DSC_0665Hand Pie: Pie filling inside small,  easy to hold piece of pie pastry. Hand pies can be all different shapes, unlike the very similar turnover. Recipe: Caramel Peach Hand Pies from It’s Not Easy Eating Green

Ice: A frozen dessert of water, sugar and fruit which contains no dairy. Not usually churned. Recipe: Banana Pineapple Italian Ice from Tidy Mom

Icebox Pie: An easy to make pie that usually consists of a cookie or graham cracker crust. Fillings frequently use dairy products such as sweetened condensed milk and usually need to setup or thicken in the refrigerator or freezer. Icebox pies are usually topped with meringue or whipped cream. Recipe: Strawberry Icebox Pie from Martha Stewart

Ice Cream: True ice cream is a thin custard of eggs, cream and sugar that are churned while freezing to incorporate air into the mixture and prevent large ice crystals from forming. The term is used widely to describe almost any type of frozen dairy-like product. Recipe: Black Raspberry and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream from Naturally Ella

DSC_0511Jam: Crushed fruit cooked with sugar and (usually) pectin to thicken the jam. Using in fillings and sauces. Recipe: Sour Grape Jam from It’s Not Easy Eating Green

Jelly: Fruit juice or strained puree cooked with sugar and pectin untilthick. Used for fillings. Recipe: Pomegranate Jelly Recipe from The Homestead Survival

Jelly Roll Cake: See Swiss Roll

Kuchen: The German word for cake. Usually a yeast-raised cake with cheese and/or fruit. Recipe: Apple Kuchen from That Skinny Chick Can Bake

Layer Cake: Layers of cake are alternated with fillings that include fruit. Frequently uses pastry cream or whipped cream. Recipe: Black Forest Cake (Gluten-Free) from Cirque Du Souffle

Linzertorte: An Austrian tart with a short crust made with ground nuts filled with jam and topped with a latticework crust. Recipe: Linzertorte from Not Derby Pie

Marmalade: A jam made from citrus rind. Marmalade can be bitter or sweet. Recipe: Lemon-Lime Marmalade from Savvy Eats

Melba: Vanilla ice cream topped with sugared peaches and raspberry sauce. Recipe: Escoffier’s Original Peach Melba from The History Kitchen 

Mold: Fruit and gelatin are poured into a mold and chilled. Also known as a terrine. Recipe: Cranberry Fruit Mold from Taste of Home

Mousse:  Mousses can be sweet or savory, with or without fruit. A fruit mousse is a sweetened mixture of fruit folded with whipped cream and beaten egg whites. Recipe: Fresh Lemon Mouse from The Barefoot Contessa

Pandowdy: A deep-dish pie classic to New England where a crust is rolled and cooked over the fruit. Halfway through the cooking process, the crust is cut and basted with the fruit liquids. Recipe: Apple Pandowdy from Sugarcrafter

Panforte: A dense Italian fruitcake traditionally made around Christmastime. Recipe: Panforte from King Arthur Flour.

Panna Cotta: A milk, cream and sugar based dessert that uses gelatin as a thickener. Usually topped with fresh fruit, fruit compote or puree. Recipe: Panna Cotta with Raspberry Sauce from Handle the Heat

Parfait: Layers of fruit, and a combination of different ingredients like whipped cream, granola, nuts, ice cream, yogurt, pudding, pastry cream or custard are layered in an individual tall glass. Recipe: Cherry Pie Parfait from Kleinworth & Co.

Pavlova: A meringue shell is filled with lemon curd and/or whipped cream and topped with fresh fruit. Named for the famous Russian Ballet dancer Anna Pavlova. Recipe: Strawberry Pecan Pavlova

Pie: A pastry shell cooked with a filling. Pies range widely from double crust, bottom crust only to top crust only. Some pies use cookie or cracker crumbs for the crust instead of the pastry crust. Pies can be served hot, cold or frozen, savory or sweet. They are probably the most common type of fruit dessert. Recipe: Tart Cherry Pie from The Framed Table

Poached Fruit: Whole or halved fruit is slowly cooked in a syrup which usually contains fruit juice or wine, sugar and aromatics. This differs from stewing because the fruit is cooked until just tender, not until the fruit is falling apart.  Recipe: Moscato, Honey & Vanilla Bean Poached Apricots from Busy in Brooklyn

Pudding (steamed): A cake that is steamed rather than baked. Although puddings can be both savory or sweet, they are most commonly a dessert. Recipe: English Plum Pudding from Making Life Delicious

Pudding: A fruit pudding can be as simple as a combination of fruit, milk, sugar and flavorings cooked and thickened with corn starch and/or eggs. However, a fruit pudding can also be an elaborate layered dessert of pudding, cookies or cake and fruit. Recipe: Homemade Southern Banana Pudding from Deep South Dish

Pudding Cake: A moist cake with a pudding like bottom layer. Recipe: Saucy Cranberry Maple Pudding Cake from The Huffington Post

Puzzle: A syrup is poured over whole fruit arranged around an upside down ramekin in a pie plate. The fruit and ramekin are covered with pastry and cooked. The fruit cooks in the syrup, but suction created during the cooking process sucks the syrup up into the ramekin. After cooking the pie is inverted so that the crust is on the bottom, the fruit on top and the ramekin is full of the syrup. Recipe: Peach Puzzle from Story of a Kitchen

Preserves: Fruit cooked with sugar to lengthen the shelf life of the fruit. Jam, jelly and marmalade are all preserves. Recipe: Crock-Pot Fig Preserves from Crock-Pot Ladies

Right-Side Up Cake: The name is a nod at the classic pineapple upside down cake and is usually a pineapple cake that is not flipped over after cooking. Recipe: Pineapple Right-Side Up Cake from Yankee Magazine

Roasted: Fruit cooked in an oven at moderate to high temps. This brings out the natural sweetness in the fruit. Recipe: How to Roast Fruit from Chef Jamie Gwen

Romanoff, Strawberry: Fresh strawberries served with a sauce of sour cream, whipped cream, brown sugar and brandy or orange liqueur. Recipe: Strawberies Romanoff from Emeril Lagasse at Food Network

Salad: Fruit salad can be as simple as more than one fruit cut and served or it can be an elaborate combination of fruits and dressing. Recipe: Red Fruit Salad from 101 Cookbooks

apple sconesScone: A sweetened biscuit frequently made with fruits and nuts. Traditionally served at tea with clotted cream and strawberry jam. Recipe: Apple Oatmeal Scones from It’s Not Easy Eating Green

Sherbet: A churned frozen dessert made with fruit and a small amount of dairy fat. Recipe: Homemade Orange Sherbet from A Cozy Kitchen

Shortcake: A sweetened biscuit or spongecake topped with macerated fruit and whipped cream. Recipe: Strawberry Shortcake from Zoe Bakes

Slump: A cobbler-like dessert cooked on the stove-top. Fruit is stewed and then topped with cobbler-like biscuits that are then covered and steamed.  A grunt and a slump are the same thing. Recipe: Plum Slump from Boulder Locavore

Smoothie: Fruit and dairy (or a dairy substitute) are blended together to form a drink or shake. Recipe: Key Lime Smoothie from Smoothie Ninja

Sonker: A cobbler or pie from the Appalachian region of the American South. Recipe: Peach Sonker from Serious Eats

Sorbet: A churned frozen dessert of fruit without any dairy. Recipe: Grapefruit Campari Sorbet from David Lebovitz

Souffle: Made with both egg yolks and beaten egg whites, souffles use the eggs as the primary leavening as well as a puree for flavor and sugar (for dessert souffles). When baked, souffles rise to impressive heights but are notoriously finicky. Recipe: Strawberry Souffle from Beverly Hills Farmgirl

Strudel: A classic pastry from Austria, it consists of many paper-thin layers of sweet dough usually filled with fruit and nuts. Recipe: Hungarian Sour Cherry Strudel from Playin With My Food

Summer Pudding: A classic British dessert. A bread lined pudding mold or bowl is filled with macerated berries. Recipe: Summer Pudding from BBC Good Food

Sundae: Ice cream topped with various sauces and toppings. The most famous sundae is perhaps the banana split. Traditionally, a banana split contained vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice creams in a row inside a split banana. The ice creams were topped with hot fudge, pineapple topping, strawberry topping, hot fudge, chopped nuts, whipped cream and a cherry. Recipe: The Ultimate Banana Split from Completely Delicious

Swiss Roll: A thin sponge cake filled and rolled then sliced so that pieces are spirals of cake and filling. Raspberry Swiss rolls is the traditional cake used in a Charlotte Royale. Recipe: Chocolate-Raspberry Swiss Roll from Food & Wine

Tart: A shallow open pie with no top crust. The short but strong crusts are usually served outside of their baking dish and can be filled with all sorts of pastry creams, fruits and other fillings. Recipe: Fresh Fruit Tart with Vanilla Pastry Cream from Annie Eats

Tarte Tatine: A pie that is cooked upside down in a skillet. The most common fruit used is apples which are arranged in a decorative pattern in butter and sugar which carmelizes as it cooks. The pie crust is placed over the fruit and then flipped after cooking so that it is the bottom of the finished pie. The pie is usually started over the stove and finished in the oven. Recipe: Tarte Tatin from Leite’s Culinaria

Tea Bread: See quick bread.

Terrine: Fruit and gelatine are poured into a pan or mold and chilled. Also known as a mold. Recipe: Berry and Banana Terrine from Simply Recipes

Quick Bread: Similar to both muffins and cake, a quick bread uses baking powder and baking soda for leavening. Unlike cake, quick breads usually contain oil instead of butter and are mixed together in a fast way without the traditional cake method of beating of sugar and butter then alternating the additions of flour and liquid.  Recipe: Roasted Strawberry Banana Bread from Buttercream Blondie

Trifle: Sponge cake is soaked in wine or liquor (usually), then layered with fruit, custard and whipped cream in a tall glass container. Recipe: Lemon Blackberry Trifle from Sugarhero

Turnover: Pie pastry or puff pastry filled with fruit filling with half the pastry turned over the other half forming an enclosed pastry. While not always, they are usually triangle in shape since the original crust starts out square. They are considered more portable that traditional pies. Recipe: Apricot, Peaches and Cream Turnovers from Domestic Fits

Upside Down Cake: Fruit and sugar topping are placed in the bottom a cake pan and cake batter poured on top. Once baked the cake is flipped over and served with the fruit and syrup on the top with the cake underneath. Recipe: Upside Down Plum Cake from Red Star to Lone Star


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15 Responses to A Simple Dictionary of Fruit Desserts

  1. What a great compilation! Thanks for including me :)
    DessertForTwo recently posted…Peach Chai Frozen Yogurt ShakeMy Profile

  2. Liz says:

    What a comprehensive list of fruit dessert terms! Nicely done.
    Liz recently posted…Tzatziki #FrenchFridayswithDorieMy Profile

  3. This is an awesome list! What a great resource of definitions and recipes. Bookmarked!
    Elizabeth @ SugarHero.com recently posted…Deep-Fried CheesecakeMy Profile

    • Rebecca says:

      Thanks. One of the best things of putting it together was finding all the new blogs to read. You are one of the several that I RSS-ed. Love your site!

  4. Ashley says:

    Whoa, what a great list! Thanks for including me : )
    Ashley recently posted…Crockpot Barbecue RibsMy Profile

    • Rebecca says:

      Thanks! Your Strawberry Thumbprint cookies looked so good I couldn’t resist. I am thinking of making them one of my holiday cookies this year!

  5. What a wonderful and useful reference! Well done and thank for your gift to humanity! And home cooks :-), especially non-American ones who cant tell the difference between a grunt and a buckle!
    Kitchen Butterfly recently posted…The ‘Forgotten’ Groundnut Pyramids of NigeriaMy Profile

    • Rebecca says:

      OOOOHHHH, a gift to humanity. I like it! Jonas Salk might have found a polio vaccine, but I bet he didn’t know his sonker from his flummery! Glad you liked the post!

  6. Pingback: On Pie: Baked and Dreamt of | Kitchen Butterfly

  7. nadine pierre-louis says:

    Italian ice cream. Less fat than american ice cream

    Pain patate! Haitain sweet potato cake
    Bananas foster.

    • Rebecca says:

      Thanks! Gelato – of course!!! I’ll add Pain Patate too. Banana’s Foster is a flambed dessert, and I give a link to THE Brennan’s recipe for it under Flambe.

  8. bee says:

    Wow, this is such a great resource – definitely bookmarked. Thank you!

    I always knew a charlotte to be an apple pie with yellow icing on top, since this is what one of our local bakeries used to sell. A quick image search showed only 2 pictures like what I remember, and the rest as the charlottes are described above. Who knew?! Well now I’m intrigued to make a traditional charlotte…
    (P.S. The link under the charlotte leads to a different recipe)

    • Rebecca says:

      I’d love it if you sent me a link to your Charlotte apple pie. I’d love to include it in the list. I’ve also fixed the link – thanks for letting me know!

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