Say hello to the cream of the summer crop.
Nothing tastes of summer quite like freshly picked British strawberries, raspberries and blackberries.
Their signature sweetness and juicy fruits add a seasonal majesty to desserts, cocktails and more.
We’ve had a bumper crop this year, here’s how to make the most of them.
Brown sugar meringue stack with summer berries and vanilla cream
This decadent extravaganza of marshmallow-y, crisp-edged meringue, soft vanilla cream, vibrant berries, grated chocolate and pistachios couldn’t be anything other than delicious.
You will need
For the meringue layers:
10 egg whites a pinch of salt 120g light brown sugar 180g caster sugar 275g icing sugar 2 tsp cornflour 1 vanilla pod, seeds only or 2 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract 2 tsp white wine vinegar
900ml double cream 2 tbsp icing sugar 1 vanilla pod, seeds only or 2 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract 700g mixed summer berries, hulled or halved as needed 50g nibbed pistachios (or chopped pistachios)
30g dark chocolate
1. Start with the meringue layers. Preheat the oven to 140°C/fan 120°C/gas mark 1.
2. Line two large baking sheets with non-stick baking parchment. Using a free-standing mixer with the balloon whisk attached or using an electric whisk and a very large mixing bowl, whip the egg whites, salt, brown sugar and caster sugar together until holding stiff peaks.
3. Sift the icing sugar and cornflour over and continue to whisk for 3-4 minutes, until the mixture is very stiff and has a shine to it. Whisk in the vinegar and vanilla to finish.
4. Spoon a third of the meringue mixture onto one lined baking tray to make a swirled, 5-6cm high disc of approximately 25cm diameter. Use the remaining mixture to make one 12-15cm diameter disc and two 20cm diameter discs. Spoon out tiny meringues around the discs with any leftover mixture.
5. Bake for about 1 hour until the meringues are set and crisp on the outside, but hardly coloured. Switch the oven off, prop the door ajar and leave the meringues to cool for 30 minutes or so. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Store for up to 48 hours in airtight containers.
6. To assemble the stack, lightly whip the cream with the icing sugar and vanilla beans. Be careful not to over-whip – the consistency should be billowing and soft. Put the largest meringue disc on a serving platter (don’t worry about cracks or crumbles). Top with a layer of cream and a single layer of summer berries.
7. Put a medium-sized meringue disc on top and repeat the cream/berry layer. Top with the second medium-sized disc, add cream and berries as before then repeat with the final, smallest meringue disc, piling the berries and cream up more generously. Shower the entire stack haphazardly with pistachios and finish by finely grating the dark chocolate over. Serve any baby meringues alongside.
Put ½ lime, cut into wedges, and 1tsp light soft brown sugar into a tumbler and mix together. Add 6 raspberries and mix until crushed. Top up with crushed ice, 50ml cachaça, a splash of soda and a couple of whole raspberries.
Blackberry and sour cream cheesecake with a gingernut crust
Swap the blackberries in for any fresh berries you like; raspberries, blueberries and blackcurrants. Blackberries do work particularly well with both the ginger base and the vanilla and sour cream filling though.
You will need
150g fresh or frozen blackberries 2 tbsp caster sugar 1 tsp cornflour 200g ginger nut biscuits
70g unsalted butter, melted A pinch of salt 750g full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature 300g sour cream, at room temperature 5 level tbsp cornflour 175g caster sugar Zest of ½ a lemon, finely grated 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract 5 large free-range eggs, at room temperature, plus 1 egg white
1. Start with the blackberry sauce. Put the blackberries and sugar in a small pan with 1 tablespoon water. Heat gently, stirring, for 5 minutes, until the berries begin to soften and burst. Use a handheld stick blender to puree the berries in the pan (or tip into a blender and blitz).
2. Mix the cornflour with 1 tablespoon water to make a paste and combine with the smooth blackberry mixture in the pan. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly and simmer for 1 minute until thickened. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 110°C. Pulse the biscuits in a food processor to crush them. Combine with the melted butter and a pinch of salt.
3. Press firmly and evenly across the base and partway up the sides of a 23cm springform cake tin. Chill for 15 minutes.
4. Whisk the cream cheese in a large mixing bowl until smooth. Using a wooden spoon, beat in the soured cream, cornflour, sugar, lemon zest and vanilla paste or extract. Beat the eggs in, one by one, stopping when the mixture is just smooth. Pour half the mixture into the tin, and dot teaspoons of blackberry puree over the surface.
5. Cover with the remaining cream cheese mixture, level the top and drag teaspoonfuls of the remaining blackberry puree over the surface, running a skewer or spoon handle through to create a marbled pattern.
6. Place the tin on a baking sheet, slide onto the middle shelf and bake for about 1 ¾ [one and three quarters] hours, until set, but still slightly wobbly in the middle. Turn the oven off, prop the door ajar and leave the cheesecake to cool completely.
7. Chill for at least 4 hours or overnight. Run a knife around the edge and remove from the tin before slicing.
For more delicious recipes, visit the Homes & Gardens website