We can all relate to the hot and sticky feeling that a lovely summer day can bring. The last thing we want is to have to stand over the cooker, or have the oven on for hours at a time to add to the clammy heat.
My kids all like their cake, sponge goodies and desserts, but when it's warm, I tend to take shortcuts. I make things that look good but take no actual heat to make, and can be classed as no-bake goodies.
Think ahead when you are planning your shopping. I like to keep some meringue nests and pre-made sweet flan cases for swelteringly hot days that I don't want to spend cooking. Warm weather is when meal planning pays off, as you already have a list of ingredients to buy and prepare you for your weekly food intake.
Types of food
When it's hot outside, we don't want to be eating heavy casseroles or warming winter foods. We want to stay cool and eat food that is both tasty and cool. For summer treats, lots of fruits made into lovely recipes can give us gorgeously tasting delights that would grace any table, but with the minimum of fuss or cooking required.
Focus on presentation
Don't accept that a gelatinous mess or a couple of tins of custard will do as a lovely treat. Make a little effort with what the food looks like and the treat will be all the more appreciated. I tend to buy colourful fruits, including strawberries and raspberries for the effect they have on the aesthetics of the sweet treats.
No bake cheesecake flan
Create a cheesecake with the minimum of fuss by using a large pre-bought flan case. Mix 500g of mascarpone cheese with four tablespoons of icing sugar and one teaspoon of vanilla essence. Spread the mix on the flan case and top with peaches and pears which have been dried in kitchen towel. Simply add to the fridge for an hour to set. If you like your cheesecake thick, boil the kettle, melt a little gelatine and add it to the cheese before you spread it onto the flan.
Granola topped yoghurt
Homemade yoghurt is a breeze with a yoghurt maker. They tend to cost very little to buy these days and easily turn milk into yoghurt for using in desserts, for cooking, or just to eat with some fruit. I set my yoghurt maker to work in the morning and by the time our evening meal rolls around, I have lovely, thick, and fresh yoghurt that tastes divine topped with a granola mix.
Adding homemade yoghurt to crushed ice and some fruit can create a milkshake style smoothie that any restaurant would be proud of. Simply add the ingredients into a juicer, mixer or blender and allow the mix to thoroughly blend. Serve immediately for an extra smooth treat in an elegant glass.
The biggest reason people give me for not eating trifle is the custard. Shake it up a little and put trifle back on the menu. A quick boil of the kettle, and setting some jelly in a bowl with sponge fingers and some fruit serves as a fabulous base to add an angel delight style whipped topping to. When those layers are set, simply top with whipped cream and some sprinkled hundreds and thousands for a wickedly sinful dessert.
The cheats strawberry and raspberry pavlova
My kids love this one, but I would replace the custard with something else if your family are not custard fans. It is definitely a make and serve immediately dish. If you try to keep it, the custard will sink into the meringue and make it soggy. A pre-bought large meringue nest is easily topped with thick custard, cubed pre-made cake, topped with whipped cream, fruit and marshmallows for an impressive dessert in five minutes.