Fruit Desserts

BAKED APRICOTS WITH ORANGE JUICE AND CARDAMOM SEEDS, MASCARPONE CREAM

A fragrant, middle Eastern recipe that works really well even if (as happens in our northerly climes) the apricots aren’t particularly ripe/sweet or well-flavoured. The halved apricots are poached in orange juice with a sprinkling of sugar and some cardamom seeds. Serve them chilled with Mascarpone cream, (or a blob of whipped cream or a ball of ice cream) and a sprinkling of chopped pistachios.

Serves 6
1 kg apricots (16-18)
250ml/1 cup orange juice
6-8 cardamom pods, split, seeds only
4-5 Tbsp brown/raw sugar
optional garnish: chopped green pistachios
250ml Mascarpone
250ml whipping cream (crème fraîche liquide/Schlagrahm)
sugar to taste

  • Cut the apricots in half and discard stones/pits
  • Arrange them in one layer in a large ovenproof dish, cut sides down
  • Pour on orange juice and sprinkle with cardamom seeds and sugar
  • Heat oven to 220oC
  • Bake the apricots till soft but not collapsed – 15-20 minutes depending on ripeness
  • Remove from the oven
  • Tip the juice into a shallow pan and boil down hard to reduce
  • Pour back over the apricots, let cool and then refrigerate the apricots
  • Whisk together the Mascarpone and whipping cream till soft and fluffy, sweeten with sugar to taste
  • To serve, arrange apricot halves in small bowls with some of their juice,  sprinkle with chopped pistachios and serve Mascarpone cream separately

MADAME FALLER’S TARTE AUX POMMES A L’ALSACIENNE
A classic Alsatian apple tart recipe from Madame Faller of Domaine Weinbach in Kaysersberg: finely sliced apples fanned out on a pastry base and framed in a creamy eggy mixture. Nice served just tepid, with ice cream.

Serves 6-8
250g shortcrust or puff pastry
6-7 dessert apples (Braeburn, Cox, Maigold, Golden Delicious)
juice of ½ a lemon
2 tbsp sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp flour
2-3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
150ml (1/2 a cup) crème fraîche épaisse (thick sour cream)
icing sugar or quince jelly, melted
 vanilla or cinnamon ice cream to serve

  • Roll out the pastry and lay it in a buttered 30cm quiche pan with removable base; cut off any excess
  • Prick the pastry with a fork and put in the fridge
  • Heat the oven to 200C/400F
  • Peel, quarter and core the apples. Slice across the quarters with a sharp knife without going right to the bottom
  • Arrange the quarters (sliced but still intact) decoratively in the pastry case. Sprinkle with lemon juice and sugar
  • Bake the tart in the lower part of the oven for about 20 minutes or until the pastry is a little cooked (lift the base and see)
  • Meanwhile, beat together the eggs, flour, sugar, cinnamon and cream with a fork until well mixed
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 180C/350F. Pour the egg and cream mixture over the apples and put the tart back in the oven. Continue to bake for 15-20 minutes more or until the custard is set and lightly golden
  • Sprinkle the tart with icing sugar (or brush with warmed quince jelly) and serve with ice cream

APPLE TART WITH CONFITURE DE LAIT

Even quicker and simpler than the one above: with apples from the fruit bowl, confiture de lait (a kind of caramelised milk jam, a.k.a. dulce de leche) from the cupboard and a pack of puff pastry from the fridge, you can conjure up an emergency dessert. Serve with ice cream for a cool (if calorific/caloric) contrast.

 

Serves 6
1 round ready-rolled puff pastry (30cm diameter, 230g)
1/2 pot of confiture de lait
4 apples
25g butter, diced small

  • Unravel the pastry and set it on its paper on a baking sheet
  • Spread the pastry thinly with confiture de lait leaving a 2 cm border all around
  • Peel and core the apples and cut in very thin slices
  • Arrange the apple slices very close together over the confiture de lait in concentric circles and dot with diced butter
  • Heat the oven to 200oC
  • Bake the tart for 15-20 minutes or until the pastry is cooked and the border risen to make a rim – the apple slices should be tender (hence the importance of slicing them very thinly) and golden brown at the edges

MINI APPLE STRUDELS

Apple pieces are tossed briefly in butter and sugar, rolled up in brik (or filo/strudel) pastry, sprinkled with slivered almonds or pine nuts and baked till golden. You can prepare the strudels in the morning ready for baking at dinner time.

 

 

Serves 8
25g + 25 g butter
1 kg dessert apples (Rubinette, Maigold, Cox etc.), peeled and cubed
sugar to taste
100g sultanas or raisins
8 brik leaves or 1 pack (225g) strudel pastry
slivered almonds or pine nuts

  • Heat 25g butter in a frying pan, toss the apple pieces briefly in it with sugar to taste until barely tender (about 5 minutes)
  • Tip the apples into a shallow dish or bowl, stir in the sultanas/raisins and allow them to cool thoroughly
  • Melt 25g butter in a small pan, brush the brik leaves one by one with the butter, fill with apple and sultanas/raisins, turn in the sides and roll up the strudels (or cut strudel pastry sheets in half to give 8 half-sheets; butter, fill and roll up in the same way)
  • Brush the finished parcels with melted butter, press flaked almonds or pine nuts on top
  • Set the strudels on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment – keep in the fridge if not baking immediately
  • Heat the oven to 220oC and bake the strudels for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown – if you have a grill in your oven, turn it on for the last few minutes to brown the tops – watch carefully so they don’t burn!
  • Serve the strudels with ice cream

UPSIDE-DOWN APPLE HEARTS WITH ORANGE PASTRY
Serves 2

100g shortcrust pastry flavoured with grated orange zest
(or substitute bought puff pastry)
2 Cox’s or similar apples
juice of ½ a lemon
1 tbsp sugar
a knob of butter
1 tbsp orange liqueur
2 tbsp whipping cream

  • Roll out the pastry thinly
  • Use heart-shaped (or round) tartlet tins as a template to cut out hearts (or rounds) to go on top of the apples
  • Chill these pastry cutouts until needed
  • Peel, quarter and core the apples, slice and mix with lemon juice and sugar
  • Fry briskly in the butter in a frying pan for 2-3 minutes or till just tender
  • Arrange the apple slices in the tins
  • Return the frying pan to the heat, add the orange liqueur and cream, bubble up and allow them to reduce a little
  • Tip this over the apples (refrigerate if not baking immediately)
  • Heat the oven to 200oC
  • Lay the chilled pastry cutouts on top of the apples and snip a hole in the top to allow steam to escape
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the pastry is golden
  • Remove from the oven and let them rest a little
  • Then turn them out onto plates, and serve with a ball of ice cream

SWISS APPLE TART WITH HAZELNUTS
The Swiss are masters at fruit tarts – this one has grated apples  mixed with ground almonds or hazelnuts, sugar and butter, baked in a fragile puff pastry case.

Serves 4-6
300g puff pastry (or a 30cm ready-rolled disc of puff pastry)
1 kg non-collapsing, tasty dessert apples (e.g. Cox’s, Braeburn)
100g ground almonds or hazelnuts
50g sugar
zest and juice of 1 lemon
25g chilled butter, cut in dots

  • Roll out (or unravel) the pastry to fit a 30cm quiche tin with removable base
  • Line the tin with the pastry and refrigerate it while you prepare the filling
  • Heat the oven to 200C and put a heavy black baking sheet on the shelf in the hottest part of the oven (this varies, depending on the type of oven used)
  • Peel and grate the apples and put them in a mixing bowl
  • Add half the ground nuts and the sugar and mix well
  • Spread the rest of the ground nuts into the pastry case
  • Add the apple mixture and scatter the butter dots on top
  • Slide the tart onto the baking sheet and bake for at least 10 minutes or until the base of the pastry is just cooked through and lightly golden – lift it up to see and if necessary, bake a bit longer
  • Reduce the heat to 180C and continue baking for 20-25 minutes more or until the edges of the pastry and the filling are nicely golden
  • Serve tepid with ice cream

UPSIDE-DOWN PEAR TART

A variation on Tarte Tatin, for which you need a heavy, deepish baking pan with sloping sides (i.e. a moule à manquer), or a frying pan which will fit into (and stand the heat of) the oven – or do them in individual tins. The pears are first cooked in red wine, the wine is reduced and poured back over them. The whole thing is topped with pastry and baked. Serve tepid, with best vanilla or honey ice cream.

Serves 4-6
4-5 pears
3 tbsp sugar
a pinch of cinnamon
about ½ a litre of [drinkable] red plonk
300g puff pastry

  • Peel the pears, halve and core them
  • Place them rounded sides down in the pan, covering the surface completely
  • Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon and pour the wine over
  • Put the pan on the stove and bring the wine to a boil
  • Simmer the pears gently for about 20 minutes or until just tender (the timing depends on the type of pear you use, some take longer than others)
  • When just tender, place a plate on top which fits snugly
  • Carefully invert the pan and tip all the juices into a second pan
  • Boil them down hard to reduce to a syrupy juice. Be careful not to let the syrup burn. Drizzle this back over the pears
  • Heat the oven to 200C
  • Roll out the pastry to a circle slightly larger than the pan
  • Roll it up over the rolling pin, then unravel it over the pears, tucking in any overlap and crimping the edges if you wish
  • Snip a couple of holes in it to let steam escape
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the pastry is golden and fragrant
  • Remove from the oven, place a serving plate on top and carefully invert the pie

PEAR TART WITH ALMOND FRANGIPANE

Depending on the time of year there are several different pears to choose from. My favourite is Williams: sweet, juicy and not a bit of grittiness – or buy several different kinds, do a tasting and select the one you like best. For this recipe they are peeled, sliced almost through and embedded in a nutty frangipane mixture. Serve with ice cream (good vanilla, or home-made honey).

300g puff pastry
100g butter
100g sugar
2 eggs
100g ground almonds or hazelnuts
1 tbsp flour
optional: 1 tbsp kirsch or Williamine
3-4 pears depending on size
optional: 3-4 tbsp apricot jam or quince jelly for glazing

  • Heat the oven to 170C.
  • Roll out the pastry to fit a 26cm quiche tin.
  • Using the electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy and smooth.
  • Beat in the eggs one by one.
  • Stir in the optional liqueur and fold in the ground nuts and flour.
  • Spread two-thirds of this mixture into the pastry case.
  • Peel and halve the pears, remove cores, cut the pears into slices going almost (but not quite) down to the bottom.
  • Arrange them on top of the frangipane, splaying them out a little to open up the cuts.
  • Put the rest of the frangipane into any spaces left.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the frangipane puffs agreeably around the pears, and the top is lightly golden.
  • If you want to glaze the tart, sieve the apricot jam (if using)
  • Heat the jam (or jelly) gently until liquid and brush it over the pears.
  • Serve the tart at room temperature

TARTE AU CITRON
I’m confidently expecting to find almonds, Mascarpone and lemons on my desert island, in which case this will become my Desert Island Dessert. It’s set in a fragile almond pastry shell and the Mascarpone provides a great counterpoint to the sharp lemon juice. Sprinkle it with icing sugar, put a single red rose in the middle and serve it on your best white plate.

Serves 6
Pastry
250g flour
a pinch of salt
50g icing sugar
30g ground almonds
125g butter, chilled and cut in cubes
1 egg
Filling
3 eggs + 4 yolks
200g sugar
grated zest and juice of 3 lemons
250g Mascarpone

  • Put the flour, salt, sugar, ground almonds and butter in the food processor and process till it resembles breadcrumbs (or do this with your fingers)
  • Mix in the egg till the pastry comes together
  • Chill the pastry
  • Roll it out to fit a 30cm quiche tin and bake blind at 200 C for 10 minutes; reduce the temperature to 180 C
  • For the filling, beat together the eggs, yolks, sugar and lemon zest till smooth, light and fluffy
  • Whisk in the Mascarpone until smooth, then the lemon juice
  • Pour the filling into the pre-baked pastry case and bake for 35-40 minutes or until just set and lightly golden
  • Lift out and put on a rack
  • When cool dust with icing sugar

TARTE AUX QUETSCHES
You can always tell autumn is in the offing when the deep purplish quetsch plums start to make an appearance in the markets and on the little stands outside the farmhouses in Alsace and Switzerland. In Alsace tarte aux quetsches is often made (as here) on a yeast pastry base which drinks up the copious purple juices from the plums in a rather delishus way. If you don’t want to bother with yeast pastry, use a pack of ready-made shortcrust (piecrust) – not puff pastry as it’s too fragile.
Serves 6-8
250g flour
a pinch of salt
1 tbsp sugar
10g fresh yeast (1/4 cube), or ½ envelope easy-blend dry yeast
100ml milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
75g soft butter
1 kg quetsch plums, halved and stoned
3-4 tbsp sugar + a pinch of cinnamon

  • Put the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in the bowl of the electric mixer or food processor and mix well together (or mix in a large bowl)
  • Warm the milk gently (in a pan or microwave), mix in the egg and butter and add this to the dry ingredients
  • Knead well until the dough starts to clean itself off the sides of the bowl (or turn the dough out of the large bowl and knead by hand on a floured working surface until no longer sticky).  Add more flour if necessary.
  • Cover the bowl with a plastic bag and allow dough to rise in the bowl at room temperature until doubled in bulk – about 1 hour
  • Heat the oven to 200oC
  • Flour a working surface and turn out the dough onto it
  • Roll/pat the dough out fairly thickly to a large circle on a floured board and lay it in a buttered 30cm quiche pan with removable base
  • Cut or roll away any excess with rolling pin
  • Arrange the plums in the tin, cut side upwards, propping them upwards, and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or until the pastry is golden and the plums tender
  • Remove tart from the oven and unmould onto a rack

STREUSSEL À LA RHUBARBE ET AUX FRAISES

The Alsaciens do crumble too and they call it streussel. Generally it comes up as a topping both for brioche-type breads and for fruit desserts.  This one gets has ground nuts and cinnamon and comes on top of rhubarb and strawberries. Serve home made rhubarb ice cream (see Ices & Co) or vanilla ice cream for a cool contrast to this lovely warm spring dessert

Serves 6-12, depending on your menu
1 kg  rhubarb, trimmed and sliced
200g sugar
25g butter
500g strawberries, hulled and quartered
Crumble
75g chilled butter, cut in dice
75g flour
75g ground almonds or hazelnuts
150g sugar
a generous pinch cinnamon

  • Put the prepared rhubarb in a colander placed over a bowl and sprinkle with half the sugar – leave for several hours or overnight to let the juices run
  • Heat the butter in a frying pan, drain the rhubarb and add it to the pan with the rest of the sugar
  • Cook gently for 8-10 minutes or until just tender but not collapsed
  • Layer it in a buttered ovenproof dish with the prepared strawberries
  • In the food processor or with the tips of your fingers, mix together all the crumble ingredients
  • Scatter crumble over the fruit
  • Heat the oven to 200o C
  • Bake the crumble for 20-25 minutes or until hot throug

RHUBARB STRUDELS

Individual strudels of spiced rhubarb with currants or sultanas steeped in kirsch, which can be made with puff, phyllo or strudel pastry. They can be prepared ahead and frozen, then baked from frozen – give them a bit longer in the oven.

Makes 6 strudels
800g rhubarb, trimmed and cut in 1 cm cubes
about 125g sugar
50g currants or sultanas
2 tbsp kirsch
50g butter
a pinch each of cinnamon and mixed spice
300g puff pastry
1 egg, to glaze
2-3 tbsp slivered almonds

  • Put the prepared rhubarb in a large mixing bowl with half the sugar
  • Leave to macerate for at least 2 hours to allow the fruit to release some of its juice
  • Sprinkle the currants or sultanas with the kirsch and allow them to macerate also.
  • Drain the rhubarb and discard the liquid
  • Toss it in a frying pan with the hot butter and the cinnamon and spice until barely cooked – it should hold its shape
  • Taste for sweetness, adding more sugar if you wish
  • Stir in the currants or sultanas and set aside to cool.
  • Roll out the puff pastry to a large rectangle at least 60 x 45 cms
  • Cut it into 6 equal-sized pieces
  • Place about 3 tbsp rhubarb filling at the short end of each piece of pastry in a sausage shape
  • Wet a border of pastry all around and roll it up around the filling.
  • Press the ends together to seal and tuck them under
  • Place the strudels on a baking sheet lined with baking paper (they leak during cooking) and chill (or freeze) them.
  • Heat the oven to 220C
  • Glaze the strudels with beaten egg and sprinkle with slivered almonds
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown and crispy
  • Serve with vanilla or rhubarb ice cream

RHUBARB TART WITH MERINGUE TOPPING
If you sprinkle the rhubarb with sugar and leave it in a colander to drain it will render lots of juice and your tart won’t have a soggy pastry bottom. This one has an added layer of ground nuts, which also act as a kind of waterproofing layer and give an agreeably nutty crunch to things.
Serves 6
1 kg rhubarb
150g sugar
250g shortcrust pastry
2-3 tbsp ground almonds or hazelnuts
1 egg + 100ml crème fraîche épaisse
3 egg whites + pinch of salt
150g sugar
2 tbsp slivered almonds

  • Trim the rhubarb, cut in 2 cm chunks and put in a large bowl with the sugar
  • Leave to macerate for at least 2 hours, longer if wished
  • Heat the oven to 200C
  • Roll out the pastry to fit a 26cm quiche pan with removable base and put the pastry in it – scatter a thin layer of ground nuts in the bottom (provides a bit of waterproofing so you don’t get soggy pastry)
  • Drain the rhubarb and pack it in tightly on top of nuts
  • Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until the pastry is beginning to set
  • Mix together the egg and crème fraîche
  • Remove tart from oven and pour over crème fraîche mixture
  • Return tart to oven and bake for a further 15-20 minutes or until the custard is set
  • Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt till stiff, add sugar and continue beating till stiff and glossy and you could turn the bowl upside down without the whites falling out
  • Remove tart from oven and reduce temperature to 170C
  • Spoon the meringue mixture over the tart, sprinkle with slivered almonds and return to the oven for another 15-20 minutes or until meringue is lightly golden and nicely risen
  • Cool the tart on a rack – it will sink down
  • Serve at room temperature or chilled

TIRAMISU WITH STRAWBERRIES AND RHUBARB

Sponge fingers (ladyfingers) are layered with a Mascarpone egg mousse and strawberries and rhubarb. Nice served in individual glasses. You can make the tiramisu up to a day ahead and keep it in the fridge, but eat it within 24 hours of making.

Serves 8-10
250g strawberries, preferably Gariguette
500g rhubarb
200g sugar + sprig of mint
3 egg yolks + 50g sugar
500g Mascarpone
5 egg whites + 50g sugar
30 sponge fingers/ladyfingers
edible flowers (pansies, woodruff etc.) and mint, to garnish

  • Wash, hull and quarter (or slice) strawberries
  • Cut rhubarb in 1 cm slices, put in a pan with sugar and leave to macerate till juices run
  • Add the mint, heat pan gently till sugar dissolves and simmer for about 5 minutes or until rhubarb is barely cooked and still holding its shape
  • Drain rhubarb and allow to cool; reserve the juice for splashing on the sponge fingers
  • Mix strawberries and rhubarb together in a bowl – taste for sweetness, adding more sugar if you wish
  • In a medium bowl, beat together the yolks and 50g sugar with a hand-held mixer until light and creamy and the sugar is dissolved (about 5’)
  • Add Mascarpone and continue beating until the mixture is smooth
  • In a separate, larger bowl beat the egg whites and 50g sugar till firm but still creamy (don’t beat too stiff or they’ll be hard to incorporate)
  • Mix the egg whites into the Mascarpone with a wire whisk, lifting and shaking to combine the two preparations
  • Pour reserved rhubarb juice into a shallow dish and dunk the sponge fingers in it, a few at a time
  • Put a layer of dunked sponge fingers in the bottom of a glass dish (or individual glasses), sprinkle on half the fruit, then half the Mascarpone
  • Add another layer of dunked sponge fingers, the rest of the fruit and Mascarpone
  • Chill the tiramisu for a few hours or overnight
  • Scatter edible flowers and mint leaves on top to serve

TIRAMISU OF MIXED SOFT FRUITS
Sponge fingers are layered with a Mascarpone mousse and soft fruit, instead of the more usual chocolate/coffee combo. As above, make the tiramisu and keep it in the fridge but eat within 24 hours.

Serves 8-10
about 750g mixed soft fruit, trimmed (raspberries, strawberries, cherries, red and blackcurrants, rhubarb)
3 egg yolks + 50g sugar
500g Mascarpone
5 egg whites + 50g sugar
pink grapefruit juice (or juice from cooking the fruit)
30 sponge fingers/ladyfingers
edible flowers to garnish

  • Prepare the fruit: hull and quarter strawberries; stone/pit cherries. Currants (de-stalked) and rhubarb (cut in short lengths) will need to be cooked: put in a pan with some sugar, allow to boil and cook briefly till just soft. Drain currants/rhubarb and allow to cool; reserve the juice for splashing on the sponge fingers
  • Mix all the fruit together in a bowl and sweeten to taste
  • In a medium bowl, beat together the yolks and 50g sugar with a hand-held mixer until light and creamy and the sugar is dissolved (about 5’)
  • Add Mascarpone and continue beating until the mixture is smooth
  • In a separate, larger bowl beat the egg whites and 50g sugar till firm but still creamy (don’t beat too stiff or they’ll be hard to incorporate)
  • Mix the egg whites into the Mascarpone with a wire whisk, lifting and shaking to combine the two preparations
  • Pour some grapefruit juice (or reserved fruit juice) into a shallow dish and dunk the sponge fingers in it, a few at a
  • Put a layer of dunked sponge fingers in the bottom of a glass dish, sprinkle on half the fruit, then half the Mascarpone
  • Add another layer of dunked sponge fingers, the rest of the fruit and Mascarpone
  • Chill the tiramisu for a few hours or overnight
  • Scatter edible flowers and mint leaves on top to serve

CARAMELIZED MERINGUE TORTE WITH LEMON CURD FILLING
Serves 8-10
125g sugar
3 tbsp water
6 egg whites
a pinch of salt
300g sugar
1 tbsp Maizena (cornflour/cornstarch)
1 tbsp vinegar
500ml whipping cream
1 jar lemon curd
wild strawberries and mint leaves to garnish

  • Draw 2 circles each 28 cm in diameter on separate sheets of baking paper and place paper on baking sheets
  • Heat the oven to 120oC
  • For the caramel, put the sugar and water in a small pan, heat gently till the sugar dissolves (do NOT stir)
  • Raise the heat and boil steadily to a rich golden caramel
  • Immediately drizzle the caramel onto one of the paper discs in criss-crossed lines
  • Beat the egg whites with salt at high speed until thick and creamy
  • Reduce the speed of the beaters and add the sugar in a steady stream
  • Mix together the Maizena and vinegar and add this too
  • Divide the mixture between the two circles traced on the baking paper, pushing it out to the edges with a spatula or dough scraper
  • Bake the meringues for about 40 minutes or until just set but not coloured (they are done when they will lift easily off the paper)
  • Whip the cream stiffly and fold in the lemon curd
  • Remove meringues from oven, peel away the paper from the un-caramelized one and place on a serving plate
  • Spread with lemon curd and cream, invert the caramelised meringue on top and peel away the second paper (provided the caramel is still a little warm the paper should come away easily)
  • Refrigerate the torte for several hours or overnight
  • Garnish with wild strawberries or redcurrant sprays, and mint leaves

BROWN SUGAR PAVLOVA WITH STRAWBERRIES OR RHUBARB
The brown or raw sugar in this version of pavlova gives it a beautiful pale biscuit colour and great flavour.

Serves 8-10
6 egg whites
300g brown or raw sugar
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp vinegar
500ml whipping cream
500g strawberries or 800g rhubarb cooked with 200g sugar

  • Line a baking sheet with baking parchment and heat the oven to 140oC
  • Beat the whites till stiff but still creamy, add the sugar and continue beating till stiff and glossy
  • Mix together the cornflour and vinegar and add it to the meringue mixture
  • Turn the mixture out onto the baking parchment, spreading it out quite thickly to a large circle, slightly hollowed out in the middle
  • Bake for 30-45 minutes or until you can peel the paper away easily
  • Hull and quarter the strawberries (or make a compote by stewing the rhubarb with the sugar until just tender – about 5 minutes)
  • When the pavlova and the fruit are cool, whip the cream till stiff
  • Fill the pavlova with cream, top with fruit and serve with a raspberry coulis

TOBLERONE PAVLOVA WITH BANANAS AND KUMQUATS

This winter Pavlova with a little grated Toblerone stays soft in the middle thanks to baking at a slightly higher temperature than regular meringues. Cover with whipped cream and top with fruit in season.

6 egg whites
a pinch of salt
300g sugar
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp cornflour
50g dark Toblerone, grated
whipped cream
fruit in season: kumquats, bananas, mango etc.

  • Heat the oven to 150oC. Trace a circle about 30cm diameter on a sheet of baking paper and set this on a baking sheet
  • Beat egg whites with salt in the electric mixer till stiff but still creamy
  • Reduce the speed of the beaters and add the sugar in a steady stream – keep beating till meringue is stiff and glossy
  • Mix the cornflour into the vinegar and beat this briefly into the mixture
  • Turn off beaters and stir grated Toblerone into meringue
  • Spread the mixture out with a spatula to fill the circle drawn on baking parchment, hollowing out the centre a little
  • Bake the Pavlova for 40-45 minutes or until firm – it should barely colour and should remain soft and gooey inside. To ensure it’s done, remove from oven, lift up one edge of Pavlova and see if the paper will peel away cleanly – if not, prolong the cooking a little
  • When Pavlova is done, allow it to cool on its paper on a rack
  • When cool, lift the Pavlova (still on its paper – don’t try to lift it off as Pavlova is very fragile) and set it on a large plate – snip away excess paper with scissors, cover with whipped cream and fruit

MINI PAVLOVAS WITH FRESH  FRUIT ON A RED FRUIT COULIS

Yummy, these thin discs of soft  meringue covered with a selection of fresh fruit and served over a red fruit coulis. Make them heart-shaped for Valentine’s Day. The pavlovas can be prepared a few days ahead (or frozen, for a longer wait) and the coulis puréed and strained. Top with fruit at the last moment. For a smaller recipe making 6 pavlovas, use 2 whites and 100g sugar.

Serves 8
3 egg whites
a pinch of salt
150g sugar
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp vinegar
a selection of fresh fruit in season
Coulis
500g  raspberries or strawberries
sugar to taste
optional: 1 tbs Kirsch
sprigs of mint or redcurrant sprays to garnish

  • For the pavlovas, draw four 10 cm diameter circles (or trace similar-sized hearts) on 2 sheets of non-stick baking parchment
  • Heat the oven to 100oC
  • Beat the whites in an electric mixer to soft peaks with the salt. Mix the sugar and cornflour together. Add the sugar and cornflour in a steady stream and continue beating until stiff and glossy. Mix in the vinegar
  • Divide the mixture between the 8 circles/hearts, spreading it out with a spatula to the edges of the circles and wetting the spatula regularly so the meringue doesn’t stick to it. Smooth the tops
  • Bake the pavlovas for about 1 hour or until just dried out – they should not colour, and when ready they will lift off the paper
  • Purée the fruit for the coulis with sugar to taste, keeping it quite sharp. Push through a sieve to eliminate pips. Slacken to a pouring consistency with water and add the Kirsch if used. Chill the coulis
  • Just before serving, pour a little coulis onto each plate. Put a meringue disc on top, arrange a selection of fruit on each meringue and garnish with a sprig of mint or redcurrant sprays.

MERINGUE ROUNDS WITH FRESH  FRUIT ON A RED FRUIT COULIS

Simple and stunning, light and sharp/sweet after a rich meal: thin discs of meringue are covered with a selection of fresh fruit and served over a red fruit coulis. The meringue rounds can be prepared a few days ahead (or frozen, for a longer wait), the fruit prepared a few hours before serving and refrigerated, and the coulis puréed and strained. Assemble at the last moment.

Serves 8
3 egg whites
a pinch of salt
150g sugar
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp vinegar
1 pink-fleshed grapefruit
2 [blood] oranges
2 kiwis
4-5 kumquats
2 bananas
Coulis
500g  raspberries or strawberries
sugar to taste
optional: 1 tbs Kirsch
sprigs of mint or lemon verbena to garnish

  • For the meringues, draw four 10 cm diameter circles on 2 sheets of non-stick baking parchment. Heat the oven to 100oC/
  • Beat the whites in an electric mixer to soft peaks with the salt
  • Mix the sugar and cornflour together and add them in a steady stream to the egg whites
  • Continue beating until stiff and glossy
  • Add the vinegar. and continue beating briefly
  • Divide the meringue mixture between the 8 circles, spread it out with a spatula to the edges of the circles, wetting the spatula regularly so the meringue doesn’t stick to it
  • Smooth the tops
  • Bake the meringues for about 1 hour or until just dried out – they should not colour, and when ready they will lift off the paper without sticking
  • Peel the grapefruit and oranges à vif (right down to the flesh) with a very sharp knife
  • Cut the segments out of the membranes which encase them.
  • Peel and slice the kiwis, slice the kumquats very thinly, skin intact.
  • Cover all fruit with clingfilm and refrigerate. (Leave the bananas till the last minute before peeling and slicing.)
  • For the coulis, purée the fruit with sugar to taste – keep it quite sharp as the meringues are very sweet
  • Push puréed fruit  through a sieve to eliminate pips, add enough water to give a pouring consistency (and Kirsch if used)
  • Chill the coulis.
  • Just before serving, pour a little coulis onto each plate
  • Put a meringue disc on top, arrange a selection of fruit on each meringue and garnish with a sprig of mint.

GREEK YOGURT ‘PANNA COTTAS’ WITH DRIED APRICOT COMPOTE

These are only partially made of panna (cream) and they’re not cotta (cooked) either – they’re made with slightly sweetened Greek yogurt and cream, lightly set with gelatine and flavoured with a little lemon zest and some cardamom seeds if you feel reckless. Pour into ramekins or dariole moulds to set, turn them out and surround with a compote of dried apricots

Serves 6
4 sheets of gelatine (or 1 envelope powdered gelatine)
300ml whipping cream (Schlagrahm/crème fraîche liquide)
100g sugar
300g Greek yogurt
grated zest of ½ a lemon
150g dried apricots
200ml off-dry white wine (Vouvray, Gewurztraminer etc.)
2 tbsp honey
juice of ½ lemon
6-8 cardamom pods, seeds only

  • Soak the gelatine sheets in cold water until floppy (or sprinkle the powdered gelatine onto 3 tablespoons water in a small bowl until spongy)
  • Put the cream and sugar in a small pan and heat gently, stirring, till the sugar is dissolved and you can no longer hear crystals crunching about
  • Squeeze out the gelatine sheets, add them (or the powdered gelatine) to the pan and stir till dissolved
  • Tip this mixture into the blender and allow to cool to lukewarm. When cool, add the Greek yogurt and lemon zest and blend until smooth
  • Brush out some dariole moulds or ramekins lightly with salad oil, divide the mixture between them and refrigerate till set
  • For the apricot compote, cut the apricots in quarters and put in a pan with the wine, honey and lemon juice
  • Crush the cardamom pods with the blade of a heavy knife, take out the seeds and add them to the pan
  • Bring to a boil and simmer gently for about 15 minutes or until apricots are soft and translucent and the wine reduced to a syrupy consistency (can be prepared ahead to this point, ready to be reheated)
  • To serve, reheat the compote, turn the chilled ‘panna cottas’ out onto serving plates and surround with some warm compote

GREEK YOGURT ‘PANNA COTTA’ WITH RED FRUIT COULIS
A variant on the previous recipe, Greek yogurt and cream are whisked together, slightly sweetened, lightly set with gelatine and flavoured with a little lemon zest. Pour into small dishes or glasses and top with strawberries macerated in icing sugar and Balsamic vinegar; or into a mould/moulds and turn out over the fruit coulis.

Serves 6
4 sheets of gelatine
300ml whipping cream
100g sugar
grated zest of ½ a lemon
300g Greek yogurt
250g strawberries
icing sugar to taste
2 tbsp Balsamic vinegar

  • Put the gelatine sheets in a bowl, cover with cold water and leave until floppy
  • Put the cream, sugar and lemon zest in a small pan and stir over gentle heat till the sugar is dissolved and you can no longer hear crystals crunching about
  • Lift gelatine sheets out of the water, squeeze out excess water, drop sheets into pan of cream and sugar and stir till dissolved (1 minute)
  • Cool mixture to lukewarm
  • When cool, whisk in the Greek yogurt until smooth
  • Pour into moulds, ramekins or a serving bowl and refrigerate till set
  • Rinse the strawberries under cold running water and remove the stalks
  • Cut them in half and put in a bowl with some icing sugar and the Balsamic vinegar
  • Turn the ‘panna cottas’ out onto serving plates and arrange some strawberries on top

PERSONALISED SUMMER PUDDINGS WITH CRÈME ANGLAISE

Instead of making your summer pudding in the traditional way in a large pudding basin, tart things up a bit by moulding them individually in ramekins and serving them over a crème anglaise – which is just a fancy name for a deliciously runny custard. (Disclaimer: the one left was sampled – and snapped – in a resto in Perth, WA)

Serves 8
about 16 slices slightly stale white toast-type bread, crusts removed
2 sheets gelatine, soaked in cold water
100g sugar or to taste
500g mixed soft fruit (raspberries, black/red currants, strawberries)
1 tbsp crème de cassis
Crème anglaise
500ml milk
6 egg yolks
100g sugar
a pinch of powdered vanilla
optional: some elderflowers plucked off the stalks or some crushed blackcurrant leaves

  • Cut out rounds of bread the size of the ramekin bases from 8 of the slices and cut the remaining slices into equal strips, trimming them to line the sides of the ramekins
    Put the fruit, sugar and 250ml of water in a pan and bring to a boil
  • Simmer for 5 minutes, add the squeezed out gelatine leaves, remove from the heat and crush the fruit roughly with a potato masher or similar instrument
  • Cool, add crème de cassis to taste.
  • Spoon the fruit into the ramekins and put them on a tray in the fridge for several hours or overnight
  • For the crème anglaise, heat the milk to boiling (with the optional elderflowers or blackcurrant leaves) in a heavy-based saucepan
  • Beat the yolks with the sugar and vanilla in a bowl with an electric mixer till pale and fluffy
  • Pull the milk off the heat (ideally before it boils over), strain it if flowers/leaves are used and pour it onto the yolks/sugar. Continue beating for a minute or two till mixed
  • Rinse out the pan, pour in the milky mixture, return it to the heat and stir over moderate heat with a wooden spoon till it thickens to the consistency of single/pouring cream – wisps of steam will begin to appear and a definite channel should form when you draw a finger across the back of the spoon – don’t overdo it or it will turn to scrambled egg.
  • Tip the crème into a bowl, let it cool, then put it in the fridge
  • To serve, turn out puddings over a puddle of crème anglaise and garnish with wild strawberries, tiny pansies etc.

SUMMER FRUIT WITH HONEY, ORANGE FLOWER (OR ROSE) WATER AND LEMON VERBENA, TOASTED ALMONDS

Seasonal fruit bathed in juice and orange flower water (or rose water) with toasted almonds makes a lovely end to a rich meal full of flavour. You can ring the changes depending on what fruit is in season – peaches, nectarines, melon, cherries, strawberries, raspberries…

Serves 6-8
1 Tbsp runny honey
juice of 1 lime
juice of 1 orange
2-3 teaspoons orange flower water or rose water
6-8  leaves of lemon verbena (Eisenkraut, verveine), snipped with scissors
3 peaches or nectarines
½ a canteloupe melon
250g strawberries
250g raspberries
a good handful of cherries
1-2 Tbsp slivered almonds

  • In a large bowl big enough to take all the fruit, stir together the honey, lime juice, orange juice, orange flower or rose water and snipped verbena
  • Stone/pit the peaches or nectarines, peel the peaches if wished, dice the flesh fairly small and turn it in the honey/rose water syrup
  • Peel and de-seed the melon and dice small (or use a melon baller), add to the bowl
  • Hull and wash the strawberries, halve them if large and add to the bowl, together with the raspberries
  • Halve and stone the cherries if you can be bothered (or warn your guests that stones/pits are still inside) and add to the bowl
  • Mix everything together carefully and if you have time, refrigerate the fruit for an hour or two to let the flavours infuse
  • For toasted almonds, heat the oven to 180 C, put almonds in a small metal dish and toast for 5-7 minutes or until golden, scatter over fruit just before serving

DICED MELON AND NECTARINES IN MINT SYRUP WITH MASCARPONE CREAM
A wonderful fresh finish to a summer meal. Serve with Mascarpone cream (equal quantities of Mascarpone and crème fraîche whipped together and sweetened to taste) and some nice biscuits/cookies on the side.
Serves 6
250ml water
75g sugar
juice of 1 lemon
a good bunch of mint, shredded finely
1 melon
6 nectarines
chopped shredded mint to garnish

  • Make a syrup: put the water, sugar, lemon juice and mint in a saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes
  • Strain the syrup and allow it to cool
  • Peel and seed the melon and cut in slices, then chunks
  • Stone/pit the nectarines and cut in eight pieces
  • Arrange fruit in a glass bowl, pour over the cooled syrup and chill the fruit
  • Just before serving, garnish with plenty of mint
  • Serve with Mascarpone cream

BAKED QUINCES WITH HONEY AND CARDAMOM SEMIFREDDO
Serves 4
4-5 green cardamom pods
150g runny honey (e.g. acacia)
2 eggs + 1 yolk
300ml whipping cream
4 tbps sugar
2 tbsp honey
6 tbsp water
a 2 cm piece cinnamon stick, crumbled
zest of ½ and juice of 1 lemon
4 cardamom pods
4 quinces

  • For the semifreddo, crush the cardamom seeds lightly and shake out the seeds
  • Put the seeds with the honey in a small pan and heat the honey gently to just below boiling point
  • Beat the eggs and yolk in a bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy
  • Pour on the hot honey and continue beating the mixture until thick, pale and doubled in bulk, and the beaters leave definite tracks – at least 10 minutes
  • Whip the cream till stiff, but don’t turn it to butter
  • Fold the two preparations together
  • Freeze the ice in individual coupes or containers
  • For the quinces, heat the oven to 180oC
  • Put the sugar, honey, water, cinnamon and lemon zest/juice in a shallow ovenproof casserole with lid, just big enough to take the fruit
  • Crush cardamon pods and add seeds to the pan
  • Bring the syrup to a boil and simmer gently for 5 minutes
  • Scrub the quinces to remove down, put them (whole) in the simmering syrup
  • Cover the pan and bake the quinces in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until tender and slightly sagging
  • Lift out fruit, cut in half and scoop out cores, place on serving dish and spoon the syrup over
  • Serve with semifreddo or vanilla ice cream
  • low-hanging fruit

WINTER FRUIT CRUMBLE WITH GLÜHWEIN SPICES
A good one to have on hand for the hols, as all the ingredients (dried fruit, red wine, crumble) are store cupboard or fridge staples. Prepare it well ahead and keep it in the fridge till you’re ready to bake it. Serve the warm crumble with ice cream.
350g mixed dried fruits (apples, apricots, figs, raisins etc.)
300ml red wine
1 sachet Glühwein spices
a finger-nail sized piece of orange zest
50g sugar
Crumble
200g flour
a good pinch of mixed spice
a pinch of salt
100g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
100g golden or raw sugar (cassonnade)

  • Cut the fruit in bite-sized pieces and put in a saucepan. Add the wine and Glühwein spices, orange zest and sugar. Heat gently, then simmer for about 10 minutes till soft. Set aside to cool.
  • Fish out the Glühwein spices, spoon the fruit into an ovenproof baking dish or individual dishes
  • For the crumble, put the flour, spice, salt and diced butter in a food processor and process using the pulse button till it resembles breadcrumbs (or rub the butter into the dry ingredients by hand, as for pastry) – don’t overdo this mixing or you’ll end up with cookie dough!
  • Sprinkle the crumble over the fruit, place dish(es) on a baking tray and refrigerate until baking
  • Heat the oven to 190oC and bake for about 10 minutes (individual crumbles) or 25 minutes (one dish) or until crumble is crisp and golden

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