Summer Desserts

Posted on: 25 March 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Finish off the meal in style with ones of these tempting desserts.

Green Fig And Ginger Cheesecake

Fig and ginger preserves combine superbly, and here they add amazing favour to a plump, fluffy cheesecake.


Serves 10

125 ml (½ cup) each ginger and plain biscuit crumbs
75 ml (5 Tbsp) melted butter

25 ml (5 tsp) gelatine
75 ml (5 Tsp) cold water
A knob or two of ginger preserve, rinsed and patted dry
1 x 370 g jar green fig preserve, rinsed and patted dry
2 XL free-range egg whites
200 ml (4/5 cup) castor sugar
1 x 250 g tub cream cheese
1 x 250 g tub smooth, low-fat cottage cheese
250 ml (1 cup) cream
7 ml (1 ½) vanilla essence
Sliced figs and ground cinnamon for topping


1. Mix the biscuit crumbs and butter, press onto the greased base of a deep 22-23 cm pie dish, and chill.

2. To make the filling, sponge the gelatine in the cold water, then dissolve over simmering water. Leave to cool. Finely chop enough ginger and figs to give you 30 ml (2 Tbsp) of each, and set aside. Whisk the egg whites until stiffening, then gradually whisk in half the castor sugar to make a glossy meringue. Whisk the remaining castor sugar with both tubs of cheese, the cream and the vanilla essence until smooth. Slowly, while whisking, add the cooled gelatine, then fold in the meringue.

3. Pour half this mixture onto the smooth crust. Sprinkle over the chopped ginger and fig preserve, then cover with the remaining creamy mixture, spreading evenly. (Work quickly as it firms up fast.) Chill until set.

4. Slice three or four of the remaining figs into thin rounds, arrange in a circle around the edge of the cheesecake and sprinkle the centre with cinnamon – either do this just before serving, or decorate and chill again until required, although the colour will fade a bit and the crust will soften, but this won’t affect the flavour. Slice into wedges and remove with a spatula.

Chocolate Fudge Cups

I think the highest praise anyone can receive after hosting a dinner party is when one of the guests requests a recipe – and this one always leaves the house, especially now that those 70% cocoa slabs are available. Not only is it a super recipe, but it’s a life-saver for reluctant dessert makers because, being so rich, it’s absolutely acceptable to set it in small, after-dinner coffee cups. Desserts stretch amazingly when all they have to do is fill a small cup (Aramula Panna Cotta), previous page, is another fine example). So buy some stunning little cups and your dessert problems could be solved.


Serves 8-10

1 x 100 g slab 70% Belgian Intense chocolate, broken up
(Swiss chocolate is second-best here)
1 x 100 g plain dark chocolate (e.g. Albany), broken up
10 ml (2 tsp) cocoa powder
500 ml (2 cups) whipping cream
5 ml (1 tsp) vanilla essence
30 ml (2 Tbsp) icing sugar
Chocolate shavings for sprinkling- preferably white for a colour contrast


1. Smear a small saucepan with a little butter (this makes it easier to scrape out). Add the chocolate, cocoa and 100 ml (2/5 cup) of the cream. Melt over very low heat, stirring just a few times to get it going. Remove from the heat as soon as the mixture is smooth, and set aside until cool.

2. Whip the remaining cream with the vanilla and icing sugar until thick but not stiff, then slowly mix in the cool chocolate mixture in dollops – make about five additions altogether, and stop as soon as everything is smoothly combined and uniformly chocolate in colour, being careful not to beat the life out of it.

3. Spoon into eight to ten little cups, sprinkle with chocolate shavings and place (on their saucers so that they don’t fall over) in the coldest part of the fridge. They should be set within 2 hours, but will keep well overnight.


Amarula Panna Cotta

Panna Cotta are delicate ‘cooked cream’ desserts, usually made with sweetened double cream flavoured with vanilla and softly set with a flurry of gelatine. Once chilled and unmoulded, they look just like wobbly little blancmanges, but they’re much richer and, because of this, a trend – outside of Italy- is to scale down the fat with the addition of milk, which of course requires extra gelatine, which could result in a rubbery wobble, which is all wrong. An attractive solution is to set the panna cottas in small coffee cups. Then, instead of unmoulding them, you simply place the cups on their saucers, with small spoons alongside. In this way it is still possible to use a proportion of milk without extra gelatine. This is an unusual presentation, but these little Amarula creams provide a seriously delicious ending to a fine dinner when something sweet – but small – would be just right.



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