This week is officially National Picnic Week, and that says one thing to me; alfresco dining with friends and family!
The sun may be a little lacking at the moment, but as hardy brits a bit of cloud shouldn’t stop us from grabbing the plastic crockery and a bottle of Prosecco and heading for the fresh air!
I love eating outside this time of year, and it seems to be a good time to invite round the friends and enjoy the fresh and delicious food this vibrant season offers us! Desserts this time of year in particular can be made to look rather extravagant with the help of beautiful fresh fruits and berries that are bang on season.
Seasonal Fruits include; Blackcurrants, Cherries, Gooseberries, Raspberries, Redcurrants, Rhubarb, Strawberries, Tayberries, Tomatoes
As a true brit, Strawberries and raspberries are a favourite of mine, and in traditional form, these have to be serve with some form of cream in my book, whether than be simply poured, whipped or iced!
My go-to recipe for a real showstopper when feeding a crowd is a multi-layered pavlova – quick and simple but hits the spot every time! But in an attempt to break the mould, my berries are getting a refreshing make over;
Strawberry, raspberry and mint semi-freddo
A delicious ‘semi-frozen’ dessert that can be whipped up in a flash, and prepared a day or two in advance – a great alternative to ice cream! The addition of vibrantly fresh mint makes the berries sing, and helps to cut through the richness of this dairy-based dessert.
If frozen desserts are not your thing, simply mix together the semi-freddo ingredients and hold it there. Serve your fruit in bowls with a dollop on top and a sprinkling of fresh mint – simple!
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp icing sugar
400ml double cream
400g greek yoghurt
1 tsp vanilla essence
100g white chocolate
Bunch of mint
1. Hull and roughly chop 250g of strawberries and place in a saucepan. Add the water and icing sugar along with the zest and juice of half a lemon. Place on a medium heat and bring to a gentle simmer. Cooking gently for 4 -5 minutes, allow the strawberries to soften before removing from the heat and leave to cool. Add 200g of raspberries to the strawberry mixture and allow the macerate whilst making the semi-freddo mixture.
2. Lightly grease and line a large loaf tin with a double layer of cling film, leaving enough to cover the top of the semi-freddo overhanging the edges.
3. Pour the double cream into a bowl and whip until a ‘greek yoghurt’ consistency is achieved. Once thick, spoon in the greek yoghurt along with the zest of the other half of lemon and vanilla essence and fold into the cream. Meanwhile, put the chocolate (reserving a little for grating) into a small, heatproof bowl and melt over a pan of simmering water.
4. Spoon a third of the cream mixture into the tin, then cover with a thin layer of melted chocolate. Using a slotted spoon, drain the berries from the cooking syrup (reserving for later) and spoon half on top of the chocolate. Roughly chop a handful of mint and scatter on top of the berries. Repeat with another layer of cream, chocolate, berries and mint before finishing with a final layer of cream.
5. Smooth flat, cover with the overhanging cling film and place in the freezer for 4 hours, or until fully frozen. Meanwhile, pass the reserved berry syrup through a fine sieve into a clean saucepan. Place back on the heat and allow to reduce for 4 -5 minutes. Set aside to cool and cover until ready to serve.
6. Once frozen, turn the semi-freddo out onto a serving plate, scatter with the remaining berries and grate over the reserved chocolate. Allow to thaw slightly before drizzling over the sauce and topping with fresh mint leaves.
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