The days are long and languid, and I love lapping up every last drop by spending as much time outdoors as possible. Let your summer dinner party festivities linger on by setting up a Canadian-inspired dessert bar, so guests can help themselves (and return for seconds.)

A Festive Strawberry Shortcake Bar

June & July are strawberry season, so why not celebrate with this fresh red and white dessert — strawberry shortcake?  If you are into baking, you can bake off shortcake biscuits, then have bowls of sweetened whipped cream and fresh strawberries sliced and ready for assembling and serving.  You can even add a bowl of chards of crisp meringue to stir into the dessert, making an Eton Mess (and this also gives those going gluten-free an option!).


Classic Farmhouse Strawberry Shortcake

Get the recipe: Classic Farmhouse Strawberry Shortcake

For more of a cake version, slices of angel food cake suit strawberries and cream.  Set a whole cake out on display as a centerpiece, but have slices of cake already paltered and ready to serve.


L-R: Angel Food Cake with fresh fruit; Strawberry Shortcake Trifles

For a more formal setting, you can assemble individual strawberry trifles.  Arrange them on a dressed table and use quarts of fresh strawberries as décor.

A Classic Butter Tart Buffet

A Canadian classic, this is a fun dessert station to set up if you are hosting a party at the cottage.  We all love butter tarts, but there are heated debates over what should be inside a butter tart: Raisins? Walnuts? Pecans? Chocolate Chips? Bacon? Nothing? So in order to please everyone, I like to make a dessert station out of butter tarts, or even butter tart squares.

Take the Quiz: Which Butter Tart Matches Your Personality?

I make plain butter tarts or butter tart squares – a good non-stick pan really helps make extracting the tarts or squares easy, and I’ve put my muffin tin through the paces, testing them with butter tarts!

Butter Tart Buffet, photo courtesy of Janis Nicholay

Get the recipe: Anna’s Butter Tart Bars

After the tarts are made, I prepare bowls of our favourite butter tart add-ins, as well as scoops of ice cream and caramel and chocolate sauce. Each guest can grab a plate, place a butter tart on it and top it as they wish.  What I’ve learned over doing this just about every summer is that inevitably, each guest puts EVERYTHING on their butter tart!

See More: These Nanaimo Bar Popsicles are Everything You Need This Summer


The Anna Olson Kitchen collection of 48 items of bakeware, baking tools and decor tools are available exclusively at The Hudson’s Bay Company and