Al Fresco Dinner Party Series: Life’s Short, Eat Dessert!

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    Ready to enjoy the sweetness of life in your outdoor living spaces? We build custom living areas so you can do just that. With this series, we’re also sharing with you some recipes worthy of your elegant entertaining space. In this installment, we’ll be focusing on dessert. You’ll find some Kansas City staples, elevated with the use of your grill or unique ingredients.

    Grilled Angel Food Cake With Fresh Berries

    This is our owner Robyn’s favorite summertime dessert to serve at her dinner parties. On the grill, you’ll caramelize the sugar and make this delicate dessert a little crunchy. This particular version was shared to Taste of Home after someone accidentally added balsamic vinegar to their cake. Find out why culinary accidents are often the best kind of accidents!


    • 8 slices of angel food cake
    • 2 cups strawberries
    • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
    • 3 tbsp melted butter


    1. Mix butter and vinegar, and brush the mixture onto the cake slices.
    2. Grill the cake briefly on a well-greased grill until golden. It should only take 1–2 minutes on medium heat.
    3. Wash and slice strawberries. Toss them with sugar and serve with cake.

    You can stack the strawberries on the cake with whipped cream or ice cream. For even better presentation, drizzle the cake and strawberries with honey and add sprinkles with a bit of powdered sugar. Pick a darker plate for dramatic effect.

    Pineapple Upside Down Cake in Foil Packets

    Whether you have a fire or a grill, you can make this lovely dessert outside. Not only is it warm and delicious, but it also helps bring a little emotional warmth to your dinner party too. The individual packets make guests feel special and allow them to add their own favorite toppings.


    • 1 pineapple ring, sliced
    • Maraschino cherries (one for every slice)
    • 1 ½ tbsp brown butter, each
    • 1 shortcake dessert shell, each


    1. Cut 12 by 12-inch squares of aluminum foil. Place the butter and sugar in the center.
    2. Place the pineapple slice on the butter, and put a cherry in the hole. Then, top with the shortcake, flat side up.
    3. Fold up the aluminum foil and grill over high heat for 12 minutes. If using a fire, use a cast iron pan for more consistent heat.
    4. Either open the packets yourself and flip the cake or instruct guests to do so when they open the packets.

    It’s a wise idea to have a few different toppings on hand for this one. We suggest vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, and sprinkles if you are hosting children.

    Atlantic Beach Pie

    This lovely dessert is an east coast staple but still perfect for warm evenings on your Kansas City patio as it is served cold. This is a salty, sweet, and tart dessert that is absolutely brimming with flavor. Plus, with whipped cream and a sprinkle of coarse salt, presentation is effortless and gorgeous. Special thanks to Bill Smith of Crook’s Corner for this recipe; many of us have enjoyed it during our own al fresco parties.



    • 60 saltine crackers
    • ½ cup softened butter
    • 3 tbsp of filling


    • 4 egg yolks
    • 14 ounces of sweetened condensed milk
    • ½ cup of lemon or lime juice


    • Whipped cream
    • Sea salt


    1. To create the crust, lightly crush the crackers. Mix with sugar. Add butter and work until it holds together.
    2. Spread crust in pan and place in the fridge for 15 minutes or more. Then, bake at 350°F for 18 minutes or until golden brown.
    3. To create the filling, beat egg yolks and milk together. Add lemon or lime juice (or a mix of the two). Combine thoroughly.
    4. Add filling to shell and bake at the same temperature for 16 minutes. Then, place in the fridge. Slice only when completely cool.
    5. If desired, add whipped cream, and sprinkle salt.

    Want to step up the presentation a bit? If you bought fresh lemons or limes for the juice, consider slicing up a leftover and placing it on top of the whipped cream. It’s that kind of attention to detail that will make any of these statement desserts that little bit more impressive.

    Tired of hosting your parties in an inconvenient or empty yard? Contact High Prairie Outdoors to help get your landscaping and outdoor living space ready for entertaining.

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    About The Author

    Robyn is a 2009 Graduate of the Kansas State University Department of Horticulture. She grew up in South East Kansas where she graduated from Humboldt High School. She was a Kansas State University Leadership Scholar and President of the Horticulture Club. She married Bret in 2009 and they have a daughter Ellie, born in 2021. Their family is completed by three adopted dogs.

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