Summer has set in and there’s a while to go before the rains bring some relief. In this weather, the last thing I want to do is bake. The thought of getting close to an oven is enough to set off a bout of sweating. If, like me, you are craving something sweet and aren’t aroused by the easy option of food delivery platforms (because let’s face it, home-made is far cooler), there are simple desserts you can prepare.
One positive about summer is the variety of fruits. In April, there is an abundance of watermelons, pineapples, musk melons, oranges, bananas, grapes and jackfruit. May welcomes a crowd favourite—Alphonso mangoes—while the melon family is accompanied by black jamuns and litchis.
There is a science to eating what’s in season. Not only are fruits at their nutritional best, they also play a role in keeping you healthy. Melons are at their sweetest and are packed with potassium and vitamins A and C. They have cooling properties because of the high water content. Mangoes eaten on an empty stomach bring down the body temperature. There is a direct correlation between eating what’s in season and keeping illnesses at bay.
For the time-constrained, the simplest thing to do is cut the watermelon into wedges and keep it handy in the freezer, ready to consume whenever those sweet cravings kick in.
Popsicles are one of my favourite things to make. They don’t require much time, the ingredients are few and the options plenty. They are dairy-free, gluten-free, have no added sugars, and can be consumed by vegans too. They are also one of the most fun ways of consuming fruit, making them a hit with children.
I personally love puréeing mangoes and strawberries (in season till the end of March) and layering them into a popsicle mould. Different berries can be sliced and layered into the mould and then topped up with home-made lemonade. For a little zing, use soda instead of water and add a little lime zest as well. Children can help out too. Rainbow popsicles are always winners. Use different fruits for different colours. Mangoes for yellow, kiwi for green, strawberries for red and blueberries for pink. For those not on a dairy cleanse, yogurt is another great alternative. Mix a little yogurt with honey and layer with any fruit pulp of your choice, and voila, yogurt pops. If you don’t have moulds, you can use paper cups or an ice tray.
Panna cotta is another one of my favourites in summer. Albeit old school, but I have always been a purist when it comes to classic techniques. I have spruced up this recipe and made it dairy-free by using coconut milk. Fresh mangoes just elevate it.
Passion fruit cheesecake is something I always have in my fridge. Tart passion fruit marries beautifully with the sweet cheesecake. It’s simple to make— and exquisite.
I have not forgotten our vegetables—and there’s no bigger king of cool than cucumber. Cucumbers are synonymous with summer and this sorbet recipe is refreshing. The zing of the lime and the perfume of the basil make it the perfect guilt-free indulgence. Stay cool this summer with these chilled desserts.
NO-BAKE PASSION FRUIT CHEESECAKE (serves 12)
120g butter, melted
250g plain Marie biscuits
500g cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
3/4 cup fine caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla-bean paste
1 tbsp gelatin powder
2 tbsp cold water
For the passion fruit jelly
2/3 cup passion fruit pulp
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 tsp gelatin powder
2 tbsp cold water
MUSK MELON AND STRAWBERRY POPSICLES (serves 8)
2 cups (355g) musk melon, diced
1 cup (142g) strawberries
COCONUT MILK PANNA COTTA WITH MANGOES (serves 6)
4 cups full-fat coconut milk
1 tbsp unflavoured gelatin
1/3 cup honey
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup Alphonso mangoes, diced
Mangoes for garnishing, diced
CUCUMBER, LIME AND BASIL SORBET (serves 4)
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
4 cups cucumber, chopped
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
6 fresh basil leaves
Rachel Goenka is founder and CEO of The Chocolate Spoon Company, which operates Sassy Spoon and other restaurants.