This season is an easy time for birthday and other celebrations and with any luck, we get to have a garden party or picnic, so it’s a good time to minimise fuss and work.
For the centrepiece, light cakes are ideal and this week I took a look around supermarkets to see what was available in freezers.
While there wasn’t a huge number of them, the quality was good and varied. The problem is that the food has to be taken home quickly before it melts. Refreezing brings potential problems, so always leave these foods until last in the supermarket, ideally placed in a coolbag, and drive home immediately, remembering to unpack it first and put in the freezer.
We can make ice-cream cakes quite easily ourselves. To keep the layers intact, make one ice-cream, pouring into a flexible mould (silicone is useful).
Leave for two hours before adding the next layer. A simple, raspberry layer followed by vanilla, followed by dark chocolate is delicious. Peach, vanilla, are other winners, as is strawberry and banana. The fruit part of the cake can be simply puréed with whipped cream.
With many fruits, I suggest straining it before adding the cream to avoid seeds, especially raspberry. Ideally use a custard recipe for the vanilla layer.
There are plenty of recipes online. Add chocolate chips and a teaspoon of ground cardamom with chocolate.
Marks & Spencer Dessert Menu chocolate and hazelnut layered dessert 525g €16
Our chocolate option here is in a roll shape.
The delicious praline wafer and a chocolate and hazelnut sponge are in the middle and on the bottom. The main body is a rich, dark chocolate mousse that is as good still icy as defrosted and moussy. On top, a chocolate glaze with roasted hazelnuts adds to the decadence. Expensive, perhaps, but it will feed at least eight. Try serving slivers between wafers for an extravagant, plate-free finish to a special summer party.
Aldi Heavenly Desserts Apple Strudel 600g €1.29
Good, traditional apple strudel is to be expected from a German company and this one does not disappoint. While not an iced dessert, it is a frozen one which needs to be cooked for 35-40 minutes. The puff pastry comes up crisp with a lovely golden colour and inside there is plenty of tasty fruit, though with less sultanas than expected. Good value, it will serve more than the six specified on the box.
Carte D’Or Romantica 545g €9.95
Layers of vanilla and caramel flavoured ice-creams have interesting chocolate covered caramel pieces and chocolate drops which all sit on a nicely toothsome biscuit base. The top has a disc of chocolate which is dotted with crunchy caramel specks. All combine to make an interesting variety of texture and tastes with good ice-cream flavours. Serves 10 comfortably.
Lidl Deluxe raspberry & hazelnut roulade 400g €2.99
This meringue roll well deserves its place in our final eight for its deliciously contrasting fresh raspberries with a very sweet meringue mixture and fresh cream. Hazelnut pieces serve to offset the sweetness and provide extra interesting texture. Made in Ireland. A fair price to serve six.
Viennetta 320g €2.89
One of the first ice-cream cakes that many of us remember, the fine layers of chocolate with chocolate ice-cream were a classic. Tasters this week wondered if the quality of the chocolate had deteriorated, and if the contrast with the ice-cream was not as marked or interesting. They still finished their portions and gave it a decent score.
Dunnes Stores Raspberry Macaroon Framboisier 305g €5.50
One of two products from Dunnes in this survey has fresh, vibrant raspberries set into a vanilla mousse, topped and tailed with almond and coconut biscuits. It tastes good still frozen and when defrosted for five minutes. Made in France. Délicieux! Serves six.
Oreo Cheesecake 350g €4.99
An Oreo biscuit crumb base is topped with vanilla flavoured soft cheese speckled with bits of biscuit. The finish of powdered Oreo biscuit crumb was loose and made a bit of a mess when being portioned. The result will appeal to dedicated Oreo fans. The rest of us thought it a pleasant blend of ice-cream and chocolate cookies. Serves six, but could go further. Made in Spain.
Dunnes Stores 12 Salted caramel cream profiteroles 240g €3
For a special occasion, a pile of these little choux pastry buns on a plate will please many with no need for cutlery or tableware — ideal for dining al fresco. Filled with fresh cream, they have a centre of salted caramel. The coating is chocolatey from a mix of cocoa powder and cocoa butter which has a good enough flavour. Made in the Netherlands. Serves 4-6.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved