It can sometimes to be challenge to pick the right dish for the day when it comes to summer desserts. Many of your favourite go to recipes can be too rich or too heavy when we have periods of hot weather. Here, we take a look at three summer desserts that nail the balance of hitting the sweet spot while also being light enough that you’d even consider seconds.
Green fig and ginger cheesecake
Fig and ginger preserves combine superbly and here they add amazing flavour to a rich, fluffy cheesecake. The light, creaminess of the cheesecake is complemented perfectly by the slight heat from the ginger, making this a real winner among summer desserts.
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 370g jar green fig preserve, rinsed and patted dry
2 xl free-range egg whites
200 ml (4/5 cup) castor sugar
1 x 250g tub cream cheese
1 x 250g tub smooth, low-fat cottage cheese
250 ml (1 cup) cream
7 ml (1 ½) vanilla essence
Sliced figs and ground cinnamon for topping
Mix the biscuit crumbs and butter, press onto the greased base of a deep 22-23 cm pie dish and chill.
To make the filling, place 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.
Pour half this mixture onto the smooth crust. Drizzle 10 or 12 small drops (quarter tsp) of the chopped ginger and fig preserve, then cover with the remaining creamy mixture, spreading evenly. (Work quickly as it firms up fast.)
Slice three or four of the remaining figs into thin rounds, arrange evenly over the cheesecake. Gently heat the remaining ginger and fig preserve until it has a runny consistency and over the fig topping. Allow to chill in the fridge. Slice into wedges and remove with a spatula.
Chocolate fudge cups
I think the highest praise when entertaining friends is when one of your 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, coffee cups. Desserts stretch amazingly when all they have to do is fill a small cup. So be creative and employ your cups and your dessert problems could be solved.
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 (1tsp) vanilla essence
30 ml (2tbsp) icing sugar
Chocolate shavings for sprinkling- preferably white for a colour contrast
- Smear a small saucepan with a little butter (this makes it easier to scrape out). Add the chocolate, cocoa and 100ml (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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
We’ve opted for the lower fat version by adding more milk rather than wholly cream but the trade off is that this must be countered by adding more gelatine if you want to serve the desserts out of their moulds and this can cause the consistency to be a little rubbery.
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 for a panna cotta, but these little Amarula creams are divine, light summer desserts that provide a perfect end any dinner.
300ml double cream
200ml cup whole milk
60g cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 gelatine leaves (soaked in cold water)
65ml cup cold water
65ml cup Amarula liqueur
Grated dark chocolate (with high cocoa solid content)
Begin by soaking the gelatine sheets in cold water for 5 minutes.
While the gelatine is soaking, pour the milk, cream and sugar into a saucepan. Heat the mixture to a gentle simmer, the surface will being to wrinkle and steam. Stir occasionally to dissolve the sugar.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the Amarula liqueur.
Take the gelatine sheets and squeeze out any excess water, then stir into the panna cotta mixture until completely dissolved.
Pour the mixture into coffee cups, glasses, or ramekins and place them in the refrigerator to set for at least a couple of hours.
The time you allow for setting depends on whether you want to present your panna cottas outside of their mould or not.
When you’re ready to serve, turn the pudding moulds upside down onto plates. Use a kitchen blowtorch to gently warm the moulds, which will help release the panna cotta. If you don’t have a blowtorch, place the moulds in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes.
If you enjoyed these ideas for summer desserts, you’ll find more sweet summer recipes on our Food and Drink channel.Tags: summer desserts Last modified: July 2, 2023