Tuesday 16 January 2018

5 scrumptious oven-free desserts

There's no baking required for these tempting treats...

Raspberry Tarts
Raspberry Tarts
Strawberry Charlotte
Creme Brulee
Rocky Road
Minty fresh Alaska
Sharon Hearne-Smith
No Bake Baking

Sharon Hearne-Smith

'No-Bake Baking' will get you thinking well and truly outside the baking box.

Sharon Hearne-Smith has styled cookery books for lots of top chefs and, next week, her first cookery book is published.

It contains more than 100 recipes that are ingenious because they take the oven out of the equation and make clever use of your fridge, freezer, food processor and microwave, plus other small kitchen gadgets and appliances.

You'll find an array of tempting desserts, from Iced Lemon Meringue Cake, Striped Blueberry Cheesecake and Deep-pan Double-chocolate Mousse Pie.

The book is total eye candy with fabulous photography by TV chef and author, Donal Skehan. Sharon, queen of the 60s beehive hairdo, has put a twist on classic refrigerator cakes like tiffin and you're bound to enjoy the very more-ish Rocky-Road White Knuckle Ride – you'll find the recipe on page 30.

Sharon Hearne-Smith

The book offers solutions for the time-starved Saturday night host who is determined not to buy-in. Our hero recipe this week is Sharon's Strawberry Charlotte, while her Minty Alaska Iceberg has cross-generational appeal. Beats running out and buying something from the frozen food cabinet.

Sharon allays fears that not using an oven will lead to collapsed cakes, burnt edges or soggy bottoms.

Mums working with little folk will appreciate the no-oven angle, removing the risk of burns, and her recipes should lure beginners into the kitchen, especially when they can transform supermarket ingredients such as marshmallows, popcorn, cereals and condensed milk into yummy treats in next to no time.


Strawberry Charlotte

A charlotte is a French cake in which sponge fingers form the sides, concealing a set fruit mousse filling. You can add chopped strawberries to the filling if you want more texture and colour throughout.

Serves 8–10

You will need

200g caster sugar

Sunflower oil, for greasing

350g sponge fingers (about 60, depending on size)

For the filling

8 gelatine leaves

400g strawberry purée (see recipe at the end of this panel)

100g caster sugar

325ml double cream

500g natural yoghurt or natural fromage frais

To finish

500g fresh strawberries, halved if large and with most green tops removed

Small handful of fresh mint sprigs

150ml double cream, softly whipped

Essential kit

20cm round, springform cake tin

Strawberry Charlotte


For the filling, soak the gelatine leaves in just enough cold water to cover, for 5–10 minutes until soft. Make the strawberry purée if you haven't yet, pour into a wide frying pan and simmer over a medium heat for about 5 minutes until reduced by half and thickened.

Meanwhile, place the sugar for the sponge fingers in a medium saucepan with 200ml of water and bring to the boil on a high heat, stirring until dissolved. Give it another minute before pouring into a wide baking dish. Leave the sugar syrup to cool slightly.

When the purée has reduced, stir in the filling sugar until dissolved, then remove from the heat. Squeeze excess water from the soft gelatine and stir into the purée until dissolved. Leave to cool.

Whip the cream in a large bowl until just stiff. Fold into the yoghurt or fromage frais in another large bowl until blended.

Grease the tin and line the sides with parchment. Soak a few biscuits at a time in the sugar syrup for 30–60 seconds, turning halfway, until softened but not soggy or breaking. Carefully place upright against the tin edge, sugared side outwards. You will need about 30. Soak half the remaining biscuits in the syrup and lay them flat in the tin, trimming to cover the base completely.

Gently fold the cooled purée into the cream mixture until well blended. Pour half into the tin and smooth with the back of a spoon. Soak the remaining biscuits in the syrup and arrange on top, trimming to fit. Pour the remaining filling over, smoothing again. Cover with cling film and chill for 3 hours or overnight until firm.

Carefully remove from the tin, place on a stand and peel away the paper. Decorate with strawberries and mint sprigs on top. Cut into wedges and serve with softly whipped cream.

Strawberry Puree

Makes 400g

you will need

500g fresh strawberries

* Optional: 1-2 tbsp icing sugar

* Optional: a little lime juice


Wash the berries and remove any green tops. Blend in a food processor or liquidiser until completely smooth.

Pass through a sieve into a bowl.

If you like, add sifted icing sugar a little at a time to give your preferred sweetness or add a squeeze of lime juice for a bit of bite.

This is ready to serve but will keep for 2-3 days, covered in the fridge.


2) Irish creme brulee cups

These impressive no-bake brulees make for a handy, stress-free dinner party dessert as they can be made 24 hours in advance. You can set the brulee mixture in shop-bought chocolate cups or 125ml ramekins, pretty glasses or tea cups for a speedier pud.

Creme Brulee

Makes 10

You will need

2 gelatine leaves

300ml Irish cream liqueur

250ml double cream

250ml whole milk

8 large egg yolks

75g caster sugar

2 tbsp cornflour

1 tsp vanilla extract

For the chocolate cups:

400g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)

Essential kit

12-hole muffin tin

10 paper muffin cases


Soak the gelatine leaves in a small bowl, with just enough cold water to cover, for 5–10 minutes until soft.

Pour the cream liqueur, cream and milk into a large, wide saucepan and slowly bring to the boil over a medium heat. Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks, sugar, cornflour and vanilla extract together in a large jug until smooth and well blended. Remove the cream mixture from the heat as soon as it comes to the boil and gradually pour it into the egg mixture, stirring all the time. Return the whole lot to the saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer over a low heat, stirring constantly until thickened enough to coat the back of the spoon.

Remove from the heat. Squeeze the excess water from the now softened gelatine and stir into the mixture until dissolved. Pop a piece of cling film directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming and leave to cool completely.

To make the chocolate cups: line the muffin tin with the cases. Snap the chocolate into a medium heatproof bowl and melt either in the microwave in 30-second blasts, stirring between each go, or over a pan of simmering water, shallow enough that the water doesn't touch the bowl. When melted, stir and remove from the heat.

Spoon a tablespoon of melted chocolate into a paper case and use a small brush to spread it from the bottom up the insides to coat completely. Repeat with the other nine cases. About three-quarters of the chocolate should remain so set this aside for now. Pop the muffin tin in the freezer for 20 minutes, until the cups are set.

Repeat the process of coating with chocolate and freezing three more times, to give four layers in total. The melted chocolate will cool to room temperature, which is perfect for adding layers without melting the previous layer (if you work quickly) but it should not be allowed to set. If it does, then melt it again as before, but very briefly not letting it become too warm.

Once the four layers are complete and set, and with cool hands, carefully peel the paper cases from the chocolate to reveal the fluted cups. Arrange them on a tray lined with parchment paper as you go.

Divide the now-cooled filling evenly between the chocolate cups, levelling the tops. Chill in the fridge for at least four hours until completely set. These can be made up to a day in advance.

When ready to serve, dust the creme brulee filling with cocoa powder through a fine sieve. You can decorate the creme brulee cups with hazelnut praline, the recipe for which is in Sharon's book. Break the praline into ten chunks and stick one upright in the top of each cup. Serve on a pretty little plate.


Minty Fresh Alaska Iceberg

Baked Alaska is always a showstopper and this is no exception. The cakey texture of the ice-cream sandwiches will have people baffled as to how you made it without an oven. You can find ice-cream sandwiches in many supermarkets. The meringue layer here is toasted rather than fully cooked – it's totally delicious but not suitable for very young children, pregnant women or anyone frail.

Minty fresh Alaska

Serves 10

You will need

750ml mint ice cream

8 x 100ml rectangular ice-cream sandwiches (ideally 13cm x 4.5cm, but see Essential kit)

5 egg whites

275g caster sugar

1 tsp white wine vinegar

¼ tsp peppermint extract

Essential kit

900g loaf tin (about 23cm x10cm or roughly twice the length and width of your ice cream sandwiches).

Heatproof and freezer-proof serving plate (slightly longer and wider than the loaf tin).

Food mixer

Piping bag with plain 1.5cm nozzle or disposable piping bag snipped to this size opening.

Blowtorch or grill


Allow the mint ice cream to soften until easily spreadable. Meanwhile, line the tin with a double layer of cling film, allowing a 10cm excess to hang over the edges.

Once soft, spoon the ice cream into the tin, compact it down and spread it out evenly with the back of a spoon. Cover with the excess cling film and freeze for 1–2 hours until frozen solid. This can be prepared up to a few months in advance.

When ready to assemble, lay two ice-cream sandwiches beside each other at one end of the serving plate, with the rectangles pointing in the same direction as the plate. Follow with another two sandwiches on the other half of the plate. Unwrap the frozen mint ice-cream block and sit it on top. Arrange the remaining four ice-cream sandwiches on top of that. Cover and return to the freezer.

Whisk the egg whites in a food mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar in stages, continuing to whisk. Add the vinegar and peppermint extract and continue to whisk until really stiff and glossy. Spoon into the piping bag, which you may have to refill once or twice. Pipe meringue peaks in neat rows all over the sides and top of the ice-cream loaf.

Alternatively, simply spread it on with a palette knife, creating whatever pattern you like.

Use a blowtorch to brown the meringue all over or toast briefly under a hot grill. Serve at once, decorated with pretty bunting if you like. Cut into 10 even-sized slices. This is best done with a long sharp knife, dipped in boiling water and wiped dry between each cut. The meringue doesn't freeze well so this is best eaten on the same day.


Teeny white chocolate, pistachio and raspberry tarts

These go down a treat at any party, whether the room is full of kids or grown-ups. They're perfect for afternoon tea or make a welcome addition to a picnic hamper or lunchbox. They're also gorgeous as a gift. The cases can be prepared and filled ahead of time, leaving you just the final flourishes to add at the last minute.

Raspberry Tarts

Makes 12

75g unsalted butter

100g digestive biscuits

3 tbsp shelled green pistachios

100g white chocolate

50ml double cream

Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla pod

12 fresh raspberries

Essential kit

12-hole mini muffin tin

12 mini paper muffin cases


Line the tin with cases, and line a small tray with parchment paper.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a low heat. Blitz the biscuits and 2 tablespoons of the pistachios in a food processor, or seal in a food bag and bash with a rolling pin, until you have fine crumbs and finely crushed nuts. Stir into the melted butter to coat well, and divide evenly between the cases. Press the crumbs firmly into the base and up the sides, cover with cling film and chill for about 1 hour, until set firm.

About 15 minutes before the cases are ready, prepare the filling. Snap the chocolate into a medium heatproof bowl and add the cream.

Either melt in the microwave in 30-second blasts, stirring between each go, or over a pan of simmering water, shallow enough that the water doesn't touch the bowl. Once melted, stir until smooth and add the vanilla seeds. Leave to cool to body temperature.

Use the tip of a pointed knife to lift the tarts carefully out of the tin. Gently peel the paper cases away and arrange on the tray. Spoon the filling equally between them and chill for 15 minutes or until the filling is set. These can be prepared a day in advance.

When ready to serve, arrange on a pretty tiered cake stand. Sit a raspberry, pointy side up in the centre of each one. Roughly chop the remaining tablespoon of pistachios and scatter over.

Mix it up

For an added twist, substitute the white chocolate with milk or dark and top with a cherry or strawberry instead of a raspberry


Rocky Road

White chocolate gives an instant twist on a classic Rocky Road. The ingredients used here bring plenty of different colours, textures and flavours but if you aren't keen on Turkish delight, you can use fudge instead. In fact, fudge is delicious added into this mix, as are dried cranberries and apricots. The list is endless, so be as inventive as you like. Buckle up for a white knuckle ride!

Rocky Road

Makes 12

you will need

Sunflower oil, for greasing

25g desiccated coconut

500g white chocolate

150g marshmallows (large

ones work better than mini)

150g Turkish delight

100g shelled green pistachios

100g mixed peel

Essential kit:

23cm square cake tin or

baking dish


Grease the tin with oil and line with parchment paper, leaving 5cm excess hanging over the edges to help with lifting out later.

Toast the coconut in a wide, dry frying pan over a medium heat, tossing regularly, until golden. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Next, break the chocolate up into a large heatproof bowl. Either melt in the microwave in 30-second blasts, stirring between each go, or over a pan of simmering water, shallow enough that the water doesn't touch the bowl. When melted, remove from the heat and stir until smooth.

With scissors, snip the marshmallows in half on top of the chocolate and then add the Turkish delight, pistachios, mixed peel and toasted coconut. Stir everything together well.

Pour into the tin and spread evenly with the back of a spoon. Move any large lumps around to fill any gaps or corners as necessary. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour until set.

Lift out of the tin, cut into 12 pieces and stack in a pretty pile on a board to serve. These will keep for up to a week in an airtight container in the fridge (if they survive that long!).

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