The hedgerows and shops are bursting with an abundance of summer fruit, so it’s a perfect time to indulge in some fabulously fruity desserts
We are slap-bang in the middle of summer fruit season, how glorious! Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and loganberries are rich, plump and juicy, ready for picking, and in a few weeks the the tayberry — the lovechild of the blackberry and raspberry — will be ready too.
As if that’s not enough, delicious stone fruit — such as peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots and cherries; some Irish and some from the continent — are in season now also and happily, they work a treat when combined with berries. The recipe below for poached peaches works superbly for any stone fruit but feel free to add a few deliciously fragrant lemon verbena or sweet geranium leaves into the mix.
The quintessential summer flavour combination of strawberry and peach is one of my favourites at this time of year. I love this easy-peasy strawberry ice-cream, also featured below. It doesn’t require an ice-cream machine. While it’s great on its own, it is just fabulous with poached peaches and a generous drizzle of strawberry or raspberry coulis, the fresh fruit sauce, over the top. The coulis recipe is also below.
I love a trifle, or its Italian cousin tiramisu. This version here is a bit of both, taking the mascarpone custard from a classic tiramisu, but instead of coffee and chocolate I’ve used more trifle-like fruit. This makes a great centrepiece dessert for any delicious summery meal, and is fairly straightforward to assemble.
You will need:
200g caster sugar
400g mixed berries (fresh or frozen)
50ml crème de cassis or crème de framboise, or blackcurrant cordial
4 eggs, separated
250g mascarpone cheese
1 x 200g packet boudoir biscuits (sponge biscuits)
To serve, you will need:
A few mint leaves or edible flowers
1 You will also need a trifle bowl or a 28cm oval gratin dish or something similar. Put the water in a saucepan and add 100g of the caster sugar. Stir over a low heat to dissolve the caster sugar, then turn the heat up to high and boil the syrup for 2 minutes.
2 Add the mixed berries. If you’re using fresh fruit, turn off the heat once the berries go into the pot, and leave it to cool. If you’re using frozen fruit, bring the syrup back to the boil once the berries go in, then turn off the heat and leave to cool.
3 Add the crème de cassis or the crème de framboise, or the blackcurrant cordial, whichever you’re using, to the fruit and the syrup in the saucepan.
4 Using an electric whisk, beat the egg yolks in a bowl with the remaining 100g of caster sugar until the mixture is pale and thick, then beat in the mascarpone cheese.
5 In a separate spotlessly clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Lightly fold the whisked egg whites into the egg and mascarpone mixture.
6 Strain the fruit from the syrup, saving both the syrup and the fruit.
7 Put the syrup in a wide bowl. Start dipping half of the boudoir biscuits, a few at a time, into the cooled syrup. Hold each biscuit in the syrup for about 20 seconds until it gets slightly soggy. Use the syrup-soaked biscuits to line the base of the trifle bowl or gratin dish, whichever you’re using, in a single layer.
8 Spread half of the egg and mascarpone mixture over the biscuit layer, followed by half of the reserved strained fruit.
9 Cover the fruit with another layer of the syrup-dipped boudoir biscuits. Spread over the remainder of the strained fruit, followed by the remaining egg and mascarpone mixture.
10 Cover the tiramisu. Chill it in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours, or overnight, then decorate it with a few mint leaves or edible flowers, whichever you’re using, and serve — see Rachel Recommends, below.
Take the summer berry tiramisu out of the fridge about 20 minutes before serving to bring it up to room temperature.
You will need:
250g fresh strawberries (you could use frozen strawberries too)
Juice of 1 lemon
250g caster sugar
4 large egg whites
A pinch of cream of tartar (Bextartar)
1 Purée the strawberries with the lemon juice in a liquidiser or food processor, then push the purée through a sieve to remove the seeds. Set aside.
2 Put the caster sugar and the water in a saucepan. Heat slowly, stirring to dissolve the sugar, then turn the heat up to high and boil fiercely, uncovered, for approximately 5-6 minutes, until the syrup thickens and reaches the thread stage. The thread stage is when you dip a tablespoon or dessertspoon into the syrup and the last few drops that fall off the spoon into the pot form a kind of thread.
3 While the syrup is boiling, use an electric whisk to whisk the egg whites with the pinch of cream of tartar until they are stiff.
4 While continuing to whisk the egg whites, gradually pour a thin stream of the boiling syrup (once it has reached the thread stage) onto the egg whites. Continue to whisk until the mixture is cool, glossy, and stiff, about 6-8 minutes.
5 Now fold in the strawberry purée you set aside earlier and the whipped cream too, though don’t fold them in completely — I like to leave this ice-cream looking slightly marbled.
6 Place the ice-cream in a freezer-proof bowl, then cover the bowl and freeze the ice-cream for at least 6 hours, or overnight.
7 To serve, scoop the ice-cream into bowls and if you wish, add some poached peaches — see recipe, top right — and a generous drizzle of strawberry coulis, right.
You will need:
100g caster sugar or granulated sugar
1 Put the caster sugar or the granulated sugar, whichever you’re using, and the water into a saucepan. Bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. This will make a syrup.
2 Cut the peaches in half, remove the stones and tip them into the syrup. Cover the saucepan with a lid and cook on a medium heat for about 10-12 minutes, until the peaches are tender but not yet falling apart.
3 Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow it to cool. Once the fruit has cooled, pick out the skins from the peaches and discard.
4 Serve the poached peaches with the strawberry ice-cream, left, and the raspberry or strawberry coulis, below, or simply on their own with some whipped cream or yoghurt.
You will need:
250g strawberries or raspberries, fresh or frozen
Juice of ½ to 1 lemon
Approximately 75g caster sugar
1 Put the fresh or frozen strawberries or raspberries, whichever you’re using, in a blender, and add the juice of ½ a lemon and some of the caster sugar.
2 Blend well, then taste and add more lemon juice and/or more caster sugar. If you’re using raspberries you may need to add a little water to thin out the coulis slightly.
3 Push the coulis through a sieve then decant it into a jug to serve. Keep it chilled until serving.
Any leftover coulis can be frozen to make delicious ice-pops. You could also add 1 or 2 teaspoons of coulis to a glass of sparkling water or wine for a refreshing summer drink.