Silky soft puddings with a bit of bite, from peach and cherry ice-cream cake to coconut macaroons and mascarpone cream.
The idea of something soft with something crisp is timeless, from cream-filled brandy snaps to tubs of cookies'n'cream ice-cream. It is why those crisp, pale langues de chat biscuits are so welcome with summer fruit fools and why an ice-cream cornet is a thing of perfection. Here are five recipes that take something soft and creamy - ice-cream, a fruit fool, a mascarpone cream - and serve them with a light and crisp biscuit.
Peanut cookies, vanilla ice-cream and chocolate
Enough for 12
muscovado sugar 120g
egg yolk 1
porridge oats 120g
peanut butter 2 heaped tbsp (smooth or crunchy)
salted roasted peanuts 160g
dark chocolate 100g
vanilla ice-cream 1 ltr
Set the oven at 180C/gas mark 4. Beat the butter and sugar together until soft, pale and creamy. Add the egg yolk, then stir in the porridge oats and peanut butter. Roughly crush half the peanuts and stir in.
Press the dough gently into a baking sheet or Swiss roll tin, approximately 20cm x 30cm. Scatter over the remaining peanuts then bake for 15-20 minutes till pale and lightly firm to the touch. Remove and leave to cool. Melt the chocolate in a small basin set over a pan of simmering water. Place the ice-cream in bowls, trickle over some of the melted chocolate then serve with the peanut biscuits, broken into pieces.Brandy snaps with white chocolate cream
Making brandy snaps is probably easiest if you have two baking sheets, so that one can be cooling with the baked biscuits whilst the other is in the oven.
For the brandy snaps
golden syrup 60g
plain flour 60g
ground ginger½ tsp
brandy 1 tsp
For the white chocolate cream
double cream 150ml
white chocolate 150g
shelled pistachios 3 tbsp
Set the oven at 180C/gas mark 4. Melt the butter and sugar in a deep heavy based saucepan, then add the golden syrup and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and let the mixture settle for a minute or two then stir in the flour and ground ginger. Add the brandy, stir, then place heaped teaspoonfuls of the mixture on to the baking sheet, four at a time, with plenty of space to spread, and bake for 12-15 minutes until they are pale gold and evenly spread.
Take the tray from the oven, leave to cool a little, till the snaps can be lifted, carefully, from the parchment with a palette knife. Tenderly lift the brandy snaps onto a rolling pin, press them down over the pin and leave them to cool.
When the snaps are cool and crisp slide them off the rolling pin and leave on a cooling rack till you are ready to fill them. They will keep in a biscuit tin or air tight container for a day or two, though they will inevitably become a little softer.
Put the cream in a china or heatproof glass bowl over a pan of simmering water. Break the chocolate into pieces, add to the cream and leave to melt. Stir the cream and chocolate gently to mix them then remove from the heat and leave to cool. Refrigerate till thick and almost truffle-like.
Chop the pistachios, add spoonfuls of the chocolate cream to the brandy snaps then scatter the pistachios over the filling.
Peach and cherry ice-cream cake
soft amaretti 200g
vanilla ice-cream 500g
fresh cherries 200g
ripe peaches 2
Crush the soft amaretti to coarse crumbs in a food processor and scatter half over the base of a square 20cm springform cake tin. Leave the ice-cream out of the freezer for 20 minutes or so to soften. It is important it does not melt.
Halve and stone the cherries, halve, stone and cut the peaches into thick segments then roughly chop. Stir the fruit into the softened ice-cream, pile into the cake tin, smooth flat then scatter over the remaining crumbs. Cover with kitchen film, then freeze for about 4 hours till almost solid. Slice and serve.
Coconut macaroons, mascarpone cream
I never really liked coconut macaroons - too sweet, too ... well, coconutty - till I took inspiration from Nigella, and added a few ground almonds to the mixture. These are light yet satisfyingly gooey. The coarsely flaked dried coconut is the one I use, I find it less dry than the sawdust-like desiccated variety.
For the macaroons
flaked coconut 125g
egg whites 2
cream of tartar ¼ tsp
golden caster sugar 125g
ground almonds 2 tbsp
rosewater a capful
vanilla extract a couple of drops
For the cream
double cream 250ml
vanilla extract a capful
large crystallised rose petals 4
Place a piece of baking parchment on a baking sheet and set the oven at 180C/gas mark 4. Blitz the dried coconut to smaller flakes, about the size of coarse fresh cake crumbs, in a food processor. The larger the pieces, the more fragile your macaroons will be.
Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar till thick, but not so stiff they will stand in peaks. Add the sugar, coconut, ground almonds, rosewater and vanilla extract.
Place 12 small piles of the mixture onto the lined baking sheets then bake for approximately 15 minutes until pale gold. Leave to settle before you attempt to move them from the parchment. Removing the macaroons is probably easiest with a palette knife.
To make the mascarpone cream, lightly beat the cream till it starts to thicken, then fold in the mascarpone and vanilla extract. Crush the crystallised rose petals and fold gently into the mascarpone cream. Serve the cream with the coconut macaroons.
Loganberry cream with flapjack
Use large oats, so the flapjack is soft and crumbly.
Serves 4 (with some flapjack left over)
For the flapjack
demerara sugar 50g
golden syrup 100g
rolled oats 225g
For the cream
double cream 500ml
loganberries or raspberries 175g
You will need a high-sided baking tin or swiss roll tin about 30cm x 20cm.
Set the oven at 200C/gas mark 6. Melt the butter and sugar in a heavy based pan, add the golden syrup then, as the mixture starts to bubble, turn off the heat and stir in the rolled oats. Tip into a lined baking tray or swiss roll tin and press down flat. Bake for 20-25 minutes till golden and lightly firm. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
Lightly whip the cream into soft, voluptuous folds. It shouldn't be stiff enough to stand in peaks. Lightly crush the berries with a fork, then fold them, with great care, into the cream. Divide between bowls and scatter over some of the crumbled flapjack.
Photo Courtesy: Jonathan Lovekin