The festive season is about celebrating, connecting and sharing special moments with loved ones. More often than not, the fulcrum of these occasions is delicious food and drink. There are loads of different traditional approaches to main courses and the savoury side of affairs, but what about something sweet to sate the taste buds?
We’ve got a handful of summer dessert options (four can be homemade and the last option is a little more convenient) that will embellish and accentuate any event you might be hosting in the next few weeks and there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re an old-hand in the dessert game or a total rookie, these summer desserts cater to all levels of ambition and health-consciousness.
Starting with a couple of relatively labour-intensive ideas followed by a few that are downright straightforward, including the ultra-convenience of Sol’s sweets hampers, here we go!
Five easy summer dessert options for the holidays
- Pandora’s Pavlova
- Chocolate crêpe cream cake with dark chocolate ganache & seasonal fruits
- A Summer Lolly to make you Jolly
- Summer Dessert cheese boards
- Sol’s Sweets Hampers
Nothing screams summer quite like fresh fruit & chantilly cream nestling in a bed of chewy, sweet meringue. Making meringue from scratch isn’t nearly as daunting as it may seem, it may just require a bit of elbow grease if you don’t have a hand blender. Pandora, a close family friend of ours, is an exceptional baker living in Prince Albert, and this is her traditional pavlova family recipe in her own words:
What you’ll need for the meringues:
- 3 egg whites
- A pinch of cream of tartar/squeeze of lemon
- 150g caster sugar
- 3 level teaspoons cornflour
- Pre-heat oven to 110 degrees centigrade
“This recipe was passed down by my mother. I only ever use 1 teaspoon of cornflour sieved into the caster sugar. Line a baking tray with unoiled baking paper or a silicone mat. Put egg whites and a few drops of lemon juice into a clean dry mixing bowl and beat with a balloon whisk until very stiff. Gradually spoon in half the sugar, continue beating until meringue is shiny and stands in high, firm peaks. Slowly add the rest. When firm, add a few drops of vanilla paste and gradually stir it in. Spoon or pipe the meringue onto the prepared tray. Cook in the centre of the oven for 2 to 2.5 hours until meringues are dry and crisp and the colour of the palest straw. Turn off the oven. Carefully peel meringues off the paper or mat turn upside down and return to the oven for a further hour or leave overnight to cool in the oven.”
In the picture above, Pandora opted for strawberry & mint on a bed of double cream yoghurt but if you’re feeling devilish then why not opt for Chantilly cream as a base? Meringues are a perfect vehicle for any fruit really, with figs, mangoes and cherries equally superb options. What a joyous thing it is to share a decadent dessert with loved ones on special occasions, or any day for that matter. Take a pavlova along on your next picnic adventure.
Chocolate crêpe cream cake with dark chocolate ganache & seasonal fruits
This is a cake you can make without even using an oven. It’s labour-intensive but equally rewarding when you slice it open to reveal the numerous beautiful layers within. The principles behind it are simple; make some crêpes, layer them with sweetened whipped cream, pour the luxurious dark chocolate ganache over it and then garnish with fresh fruits. Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication this summer.
Here’s our full chocolate ganache cake recipe if you’d like to make it.
Summer Lolly to make you Jolly
The summertime calls for lighter, fruitier desserts, especially for an afternoon affair. Pannacotta or freshly-shaved granitas are beautiful desserts aligned with the summery theme, but they require plenty of effort and planning. What if we said that it’s okay to chase after these brilliant refreshing flavours in an easier way?
Fresh fruit, herbs, juices, teas and cordials can all supplement your ice lolly creations to truly cater for all palates and preferences. And it goes without saying, but all of these extra variables increase the fun and experimentation levels exponentially. If you’re looking to limit the amount of added/unnatural sugar, this is the way to do it. Get yourself some wooden lolly sticks and a couple of moulds from the supermarket and start experimenting with a few flavours that you think might work. Making your own ice lollies might not be perfect right away, but it’s the sort of trial and error process where the errors can be fun and tasty too.
Ice lollies are perfect for a busy host with kids (or adults) to please on a summer’s day or an organizer of a large-ish event where large volumes of people need a quick easy dessert. And since everyone loves a refreshing fruity ice lolly, these are the ticket. If you’re only serving adults, these lollies would probably work with a bit of booze in them if you’re that way inclined, but don’t add too much of it because if you do, the lollies might not freeze.
Sol’s Jolly Lolly flavour combo inspo:
- Apple, Ginger & Mint
- Hibiscus, honey & Cranberry
- Avocado & Coconut
- Apricot & Rosemary
- Vanilla & Pear
Some slightly more adventurous combos via mybaba.com:
- Strawberry & Watermelon
- Yoghurt & Banana
- Chocolate & Avocado
- Fruit Salad Ice Pops
- Strawberry Yoghurt
Ever had a chilli chocolate steak or a mango & chilli cocktail? Those combos would likely translate superbly into ice lollies if you’re adventurous enough. The combination possibilities are endless. For what it’s worth, I recently attended a wedding where playtime lollies were one of the desserts on offer, and those went down an absolute treat on the dancefloor.
Summer dessert cheese boards
Instead of opting for a sugar-laden dessert, many of the savoury-toothed persuasion might be enticed by cheeseboards with sweet preserves, fresh fruits, nuts and crunchy crackers as the perfect way to round out a festive gathering. Richly-flavoured cheese, paired with complementary flavours, is about classy and festive as it comes. Rosemary & sea salt crackers & melba toasts are the ideal complements for award-winning cheese and rich preserves.
Specifically, try out these flavour profiles in collaboration with one another:
- Kokerboom White Steenbras camembert with West Side fynbos honey.
- Cabrito, a soft and creamy goats cheese, with the luscious extravagance of MCC Marmalade on toast.
- Black-winged stilt blue cheese with the robustness of apple & yellow mustard jam.
You really can’t ever go wrong with cheese.
Sol’s Sweet Hampers
This isn’t so much a singular dessert recipe as much as it is proof that sometimes dessert just needs to be a couple of blocks of chocolate. Sol’s Sweet & intimate hamper is enough for a pair to share but it’s quite easy to demolish by oneself in one sitting, too. Our confectionery range provides an array of textures and vibrant flavours that soothe the soul and inject nostalgia into an occasion. The brittles, nougats and chocolates have been made by local African suppliers so you know they’re good. Treat yourself.
Speaking of treating yourself, which type of summer dessert speaks to your soul? Hopefully, it’s one of these.