Light, fresh and trendy

16.07.2010 | Text: Alla Zakonova

The summer desserts that we selected not only correspond to the notion of seasonality but are also interesting from the cultural point of view


The descriptions of sweet summer dishes are obvious: they are easily prepared, light on stomach and contain seasonal fruits and berries. The rest depends on personal tastes and traditions, no matter whether we are talking about sweet cold soups, ice cream, fruit jellos, pies with fresh berries or the everlasting chef-doeuvre strawberries with whipped cream. You can also add some intellectual subtext by serving dishes flavored with a certain history. Here are some of them


Peach Melba is a classic dessert invented at the end of the 1980s by the French chef Auguste Escoffier at the Savoy Hotel in London to honor an Australian housewife by the name of Nellie Mitchell (1861-1931) from Melbourne, Australia, who later changed her name and future to become an opera diva. It combines two favourite summer fruits: peaches and raspberry sauce over vanilla ice cream.

In 1892, Nellie Melba performed in Richard Wagners Lohengrin at Covent Garden. The Duke of Orl?ans gave a dinner party to celebrate her triumph. For the occasion, Escoffier created a new dessert and used an ice sculpture of a swan, which was featured in the opera to display the dessert. The swan carried peaches on a bed of vanilla ice cream that were topped with spun sugar.

In 1900, Escoffier created a new version of the dessert. For the occasion of the opening of the Carlton Hotel, where he was head chef, Escoffier omitted the ice swan and topped the peaches with raspberry puree. In other versions of this dessert, it is topped with pears, apricots or strawberries instead of peaches, raspberry sauce or melted red currant jelly instead of raspberry puree.

How its prepared

Ripe peaches are blanched for a few minutes and then dipped into ice-cold water. Then they are peeled, slightly sprinkled with confectioners sugar and cooled off in a refrigerator. Mousse is made of fresh raspberries and confectioners sugar. The bowl is filled with vanilla ice cream and then peaches are laid and topped with raspberries puree. Any changes in the recipe destroy the delicate balance of taste.


Pavlova is a meringue-based dessert named after the Russian ballet prima Anna Pavlova. Colloquially referred to as "pav", it is a cake similar to meringue with a crispy crust and a soft, light interior. The dessert is believed to have been created to honor the dancer during or after one of her tours to Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s.

Where the dessert was created and the nationality of its creator has been a source of argument between the two nations for many years, but research shows that its creator is a native of New Zealand. The dessert is a popular dish and an important part of the national cuisine of both countries and is frequently served after festive holiday meals.

How its prepared

Pavlova requires beating egg whites, adding a bit of salt to a very stiff consistency before folding it in caster sugar, white vinegar, corn starch and vanilla and then baking the mixture at a low temperature until it takes the form of a meringue. This makes the outside of the Pavlova a crisp crunchy shell, while the interior remains soft and moist.

The internal consistency is completely different from that which is normally associated with meringue as it has the texture of a soft marshmallow. This difference is due to the addition of cornstarch, which is the distinctive feature of the recipe.

Pavlova is traditionally decorated with a topping of whipped cream and fresh fruits of that are either sweet or tart, such as strawberries and kiwifruit, passion fruit, bananas, berries and slices of peach.

Granita (in Italian also granita siciliana) is a semi-frozen dessert made from sugar syrup and various flavorings. Originally from Sicily, though available all over Italy (granita in Sicily is somewhat different from that in other regions of Italy), it is similar related to sorbet and Italian ice. However, in most of Sicily, it has a coarser, more crystalline texture.

On the west coast and in Palermo, it is chunky, while in the eastern part of Italy it is almost as smooth as sorbet. Common and traditional flavoring ingredients include lemon juice, mandarin oranges, jasmine, coffee, almonds, mint and wild strawberries and black mulberries (when in season) and chocolate. Granita with coffee is also very common. Granita is often found served as a slush-type drink rather than a dessert in a paper or plastic cup with a plastic lid and a straw (typically a spoon straw).

How its prepared

Cooled sugar syrup and mashed fruit are stirred and poured into moulds or cups, covered with foil or cellophane and placed in a deep freezer for 2 hours. Then it is repeatedly stirred and put back in the freezer for another 3 hours or even overnight. Before serving it is left for approximately 20 minutes and stirred.

Another simple recipe of a coffee granita is chilling brewed coffee with sugar in a freezer until it is covered with a crust of ice. Stir it and put into the freezer for the night. The consistency of coffee granita is reminds one of cold and crispy wet sand.


Clafoutis or clafouti. This is a lukewarm French egg dessert of fruits resembling a flan or baked pudding. Much liked among children. Clafoutis is delicious with almost all seasonal fruits and berries: peaches, apples, pears, sweet cherries, apricots, raspberries or strawberries, but the optimal balance of sour and sweet tastes is typical in the traditional Limousin clafoutis, which contains cherry pits in order that their delicate almond flavor is absorbed in the dish as they baked.

How its prepared

Cherries and slivered almonds are tossed in a baking dish. Eggs, sugar, salt and flour are whisked together until smooth. Then they add milk, Amaretto or Brandy (or almond extract) and vanilla extract. All components are whisked until they are smooth and then are poured into a baking dish. Clafoutis is baked for 40-50 minutes or until lightly browned. You can add chopped pistachios and remember to serve clafoutis lukewarm with a dusting of confectioner´s icing sugar.

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