Use any ripe fruit you like to make this quick summer dessert.
Vanilla bean pannacotta:
3 cups cream
1 cup milk
1 tsp chopped fresh peppermint leaves or peppermint tea or Earl Grey tea
3 vanilla pods, split and scraped
¾ cup sugar
4 sheets gelatine or 4 tsp powdered gelatine
Strawberry soup (recipe below) fresh strawberries or cooked rhubarb, to garnish
Fruit and nut biscotti (recipe below)
1 Slowly bring the cream, milk, peppermint leaves or tea, vanilla and sugar to the boil. If using gelatine leaves, soak them in cold water for approximately 10 minutes. Squeeze out the excess water from the gelatine leaves and stir them into the cream mixture.
2 When the gelatine has dissolved, strain the mixture into a jug or bowl. Allow the mixture to cool completely. This can be done over a bigger bowl on top of iced water, stirring often.
3 When the mixture starts to thicken, pour into 10 dariole moulds (120ml) sprayed with non-stick spray, or into eight martini glasses. If using martini glasses, you don't need to spray them. Cover with plastic wrap, place in the fridge and refrigerate until set.
4 To serve, spoon the strawberry soup on top of the pannacotta. Garnish with fresh strawberries or cooked rhubarb and serve biscotti (see below) on the side.
You may not need all the sugar syrup, depending on the sweetness of the fruit.
To make sugar syrup, stir together equal measures of hot water and caster sugar until the sugar dissolves. So, 500ml (2 cups) of sugar syrup would be made up of 250ml (1 cup) hot water and 250g (1 cup) of caster sugar.
500g fresh ripe strawberries
500ml (2 cups) sugar syrup
1 Mix together the fruit and sugar syrup, then place in a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid.
2 Place over a low heat and bring to a simmer, stirring often until the berries are soft and tender. Cool, then puree in a blender, being careful not to overfill. Pass though a fine sieve, discarding any seeds.
3 If it tastes a little sour, add more of the sugar syrup to balance the tart acidity of the fruit so that you get a nice sweet-and-sour flavour.
Taste often - remember: not too sweet and not too sour. Cool.
Fruit and nut biscotti
If there is a single recipe that guests ask us for more than any other, it is this one. The biscotti are full of flavour and have an amazing texture due to the coconut. Use as many different dried fruits and nuts as you wish. This recipe makes approximately 100.
1 tbsp baking powder
400g assorted raisins, currants, dried cranberries, dried apricots (sliced)
Zest of 1 orange and 2 lemons, or 2 tbsp candied peel
400g assorted nuts - almonds, pistachio, pine nuts, cashews, hazelnuts
2 cups shredded coconut
500g caster sugar
1 shot amaretto
1 Preheat the oven to 150C. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl, then add the fruit and nuts.
2 Whisk the eggs with the sugar and amaretto, and add to the large bowl. Combine. Roll out the mixture into 2.5cm-wide logs. Wetting your hands will make it easier to shape the logs.
3 Place the logs on a baking tray lined with baking paper and put into the oven. Bake until they are golden and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool slightly. Do not turn off the oven.
4 While still warm, slice each log as thinly as possible, on a slight angle, so that the biscotti are approximately 15-17cm long.
5 Place them back on the lined baking tray and bake them again at 140-150C, until golden. Cool on wire racks, then store for up to a month in an airtight container.