Cooking for a crowd this weekend? Try these easy summer desserts

Whether you're catering a communion or getting the family together for an al fresco feast, these easy desserts will impress without causing you stress
Cooking for a crowd this weekend? Try these easy summer desserts

Colm O'Gorman's strawberry and rhubarb pavlova. Photo; Mary Browne

Lime and ginger cheesecake

recipe by:Michelle Darmody

Velvety smooth, with warm ginger tones and a citrus kick, this decadent dessert is perfect for hot summer nights

Lime and ginger cheesecake

Servings

12

Preparation Time

3 hours 15 mins

Total Time

3 hours 15 mins

Course

Dessert

Ingredients

  • 75g butter

  • 200g ginger nut biscuits, crushed into crumbs

  • 300g Mascarpone

  • 400g cream cheese

  • 160g icing sugar

  • zest of 6 limes

  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

Method

  1. Line the base of a 9 inch round loose-base or spring-form tin with baking parchment.

  2. Melt the butter gently in a saucepan and stir in the biscuit crumbs. Press the mixture into the base of the tin, pressing it down well. Place in the fridge to harden.

  3. Blend the Mascarpone, cheese and icing sugar with a hand whisk until they are completely combined. Stir in the zest and vanilla essence.

  4. Spread the cheese mixture over the cold base and cool in the fridge for about three hours. Sprinkle with some extra lime zest before serving, if you wish.

Rhubarb Eton mess

recipe by:Currabinny Cooks

A seasonal twist on a classic, this dessert is easy to put together and a real crowd-pleaser

Rhubarb Eton mess

Servings

4

Preparation Time

15 mins

Cooking Time

10 mins

Total Time

25 mins

Course

Dessert

Ingredients

  • 350g rhubarb

  • 2 tbsp caster sugar

  • 3-4 tbsp water

  • 300ml double cream

  • 1 packet of meringue nests or 2 large Italian style meringues

  • zest of 1 orange

Method

  1. Trim the rhubarb and cut into short pieces about 1 inch long. Place in a small pan with water and sugar and cook in a medium high heat until the rhubarb has lost its shape and become like a sort of thick compote. Set aside to cool.

  2. In a large bowl whisk the cream until thick and forming gentle peaks with your whisk. Be very careful not to over whisk; you want a nice softly whisked cream and not something on its way to butter.

  3. Break up the meringue with your hands and combine with the cream, gently using a large spoon.

  4. When the rhubarb has cooled, carefully swirl into the cream and meringue mixture and serve either in a large serving platter or individually with a little grated orange zest on top.

White chocolate and strawberry sponge

recipe by:Michelle Darmody

A classic summer sponge with hints of orange zest made even more indulgent with white chocolate

White chocolate and strawberry sponge

Servings

12

Preparation Time

15 mins

Cooking Time

40 mins

Total Time

55 mins

Course

Baking

Ingredients

  • 100g white chocolate, broken into small, even pieces

  • 200g butter, softened

  • 160g golden caster sugar

  • zest of 2 oranges

  • 4 eggs

  • 200g self-raising flour, sieved

  • 180g strawberries, stalks removed and diced to decorate:

  • 200ml cream

  • 200g white chocolate, broken into small, even pieces

  • 100g strawberries, halved

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C and line an 8-inch cake tin with parchment.

  2. Melt the chocolate and butter together over a very low heat. Allow to cool for five minutes

  3. Whisk in the sugar and zest until combined. Whisk in the eggs.

  4. Add the flour and combine. Stir in the strawberries.

  5. Scoop into your prepared tin and bake for about 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out of the sponge clean. Once cool enough to handle you can turn the cake onto a wire rack to cool completely.

  6. To make the icing, heat the cream until it is shivering on top, this happens just before it boils. Take it off the heat and stir in the white chocolate pieces until they are melted, and the icing is smooth.

  7. Allow to cool to room temperature. Smooth the icing over the cooled cake and dot the strawberries on top.

Lemon drizzle traybake

recipe by:Darina Allen

Whether catering for a birthday party, a family gathering or just baking for fun, this super easy traybake is a perfect recipe to make with the kids

Lemon drizzle traybake

Servings

24

Preparation Time

10 mins

Cooking Time

20 mins

Total Time

30 mins

Course

Baking

Ingredients

  • 175g butter, softened

  • 150g caster sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • 175g self-raising flour

  • freshly grated rind of 1 lemon

  • freshly squeezed juice of 1-2 lemons

  • 110g caster sugar

  • Optional:

  • 2 tbsp lemon curd

    Equipment:

  • 10 x 7 inch (25.5 x 18 cm) Swiss roll tin, well-greased

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 180°C.

  2. Grease and line your tin with a little butter and line with a sheet of parchment paper that comes up over each side.

  3. Put the butter, sugar, eggs and self-raising flour into a food processor. Whizz for a few seconds to amalgamate. Spread evenly in the well-buttered tin.

  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes approx. or until golden brown and well risen. Meanwhile, mix the ingredients for the glaze.

  5. As soon as the cake is cooked, pour the glaze over the top, leave to cool. 

  6. If you want to ice the cake, mix equal parts icing sugar and lemon juice and spread over the cake, leaving to firm up before slicing. If you want the contrasting yellow lines, like in the picture, you will need to use the tablespoons of lemon curd. While the icing is still wet, quickly pipe lines with the lemon curd, about 2.5cm (1 inch) apart, across the top of the cake. Then draw the tip of a skewer or pointed knife through the coloured lines, at right angles, going in opposite directions each time, this is called feathering and may be done in lines or in a spider web pattern.

  7. When the icing is firm but not completely set, cut into slices. 

Chocolate biscuit cake

recipe by:Darina Allen

This recipe was sent in by reader Leah Flynn

Chocolate biscuit cake

Servings

8

Preparation Time

15 mins

Cooking Time

5 mins

Total Time

20 mins

Course

Baking

Ingredients

  • 600g rich tea biscuits

  • 350g butter

  • 225g caster sugar

  • 4 dstsp cocoa powder

  • 3 eggs

  • 225g milk chocolate

  • Equipment:

  • 1 x 900g (2lb) loaf tin, lined with cling film

Method

  1. Break the biscuits into a bowl.

  2. In a saucepan, melt the butter and sugar together, stirring all the time.

  3. When melted, add the cocoa powder. Allow to cool slightly.

  4. Beat the eggs lightly and add to the butter, sugar and cocoa mixture.

  5. Add the broken biscuits and mix well. Fill into a lined loaf tin. Leave to set in the fridge. Turn out of the tin and cover in melted chocolate.
    This recipe is from Irish Examiner reader Leah Flynn.

Chocolate and orange brownie cake

recipe by:Michelle Darmody

Easy, delicious and pretty much foolbroof - stir up this chocolate cake today

Chocolate and orange brownie cake

Servings

12

Preparation Time

15 mins

Cooking Time

25 mins

Total Time

40 mins

Course

Baking

Ingredients

  • 125g dark chocolate, broken into pieces

  • 170g caster sugar

  • 70g muscovado sugar

  • 100g butter, softened

  • 2 eggs, beaten until fluffy

  • 100g plain flour

  • zest of 2 oranges

  • ½ tsp baking powder

  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder

  • small handful of candied orange peel, chopped

  • To decorate:

  • 50ml cream

  • 50g dark chocolate, broken into small chips

  • handful of candied orange peel strips

Method

  1. Grease and line an 8in deep tart case. Preheat your oven to 180°C.

  2. Add the chocolate, caster sugar, muscovado sugar and butter into a saucepan and melt everything together. Set aside to cool.

  3. Fold in the eggs, flour, orange zest, baking powder and cocoa. Stir in the chopped peel.

  4. Scoop the mixture into the tart case and bake for 25 minutes. Set aside to cool while making the ganache.

  5. Heat the cream until shivering and stir in the small pieces of chocolate until melted. Set aside to cool slightly and then coat the cake. Decorate with the candied orange strips.

Strawberry and rhubarb pavlova

recipe by:Colm O’Gorman

Crisp meringue and sweet cream with sweet fresh strawberries and rhubarb roasted in orange and honey - a match made in heaven

Strawberry and rhubarb pavlova

Servings

12

Preparation Time

30 mins

Cooking Time

2 hours 15 mins

Total Time

2 hours 45 mins

Course

Baking

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs

  • 150g caster sugar

  • 1 tsp white vinegar

  • 2 tsp vanilla essence

  • 600g strawberries

  • a bunch of rhubarb, about 400g

  • 1 orange

  • 1 tbsp runny honey

  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Method

  1. Separate the eggs. Whisk the whites until they are stiff with nice peaks. With your mixer still running at high speed, gradually add the sugar a tablespoon at a time until you have a glossy, stiff mixture. Do not over whip it though, you want a creamy, smooth mixture with stiff, glossy peaks. Just before the meringue is ready, add the vinegar and mix that through.

  2. Heat your oven to 120°C. Line two baking trays with non-stick baking paper. Spread half of the meringue mixture onto each, forming discs about 25cm in diameter. Bake for two hours and then turn off the oven. Use a wooden spoon to hold the oven door slightly ajar and leave the meringue in there until the oven is completely cool.

  3. Hull and quarter half of the strawberries. Add them to a pan with the lemon juice and one teaspoon of caster sugar. Cook over a medium heat until the strawberries are soft, and the juices reduce down to a runny jam-like consistency. Take the pan off the heat and allow the compote to cool completely.

  4. Trim the rhubarb and cut it into 3cm long pieces. Toss it in the zest and half the juice of the orange, along with a tablespoon of honey. Bake the rhubarb in your oven at 180°C for about fifteen minutes, then remove it from the tray and low it to cool. If you like, you can bake the rhubarb at the same time as the meringue, just give it about thirty minutes at that lower temperature until it is soft and cooked through but still holding its shape.

  5. Whip the cream along with two teaspoons of caster sugar and one teaspoon of vanilla essence. Wash the strawberries, cutting some in half, keeping the stalks attached. These are for the top of your pavlova. Hull and slice the rest.

  6. Place one meringue on a serving platter. Spread generously with the Chantilly cream, and add the roasted rhubarb. Add the top layer of meringue, spreading that with the last of the cream. Now spoon over the strawberry sauce. Pile on the sliced strawberries, top off with the halved berries, and if you fancy it some fresh blackberries or flaked almonds for decoration.

  7. You can prepare most of the elements for this dessert ahead of time. If you wish, bake the meringue, roast the rhubarb, and make the strawberry compote the night before you need the pavlova. You can then whip the cream, prepare the fresh fruit, and assemble the pavlova just before you are ready to serve it. Do not leave this dessert to stand for too long before serving it though, or the meringue will lose its crisp texture.

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