When the heat starts getting unbearable, baking can be a real challenge even for cooking enthusiasts. That's when cold recipes come to the rescue, from rich vegetable or cereal salads to no-cook desserts. And since you can't say no to dessert, on hot days you can prepare delicious recipes without turning on the oven. Here are 5 ideas for summer desserts you can make at home.
No-cook summer desserts
One of the most popular spoon desserts in Italy, one of the symbols of 1980s cuisine and the perfect end to a meal in pizzeria, its origin are still unknown. Tasty and snow-white, panna cotta is one of those old-fashioned specialities that you can't say no to, to be enjoyed pure or flavoured with syrups, icing, fruit or chocolate topping. According to folk tales in the early 1900s narrated by a Hungarian lady living in the Langhe area, panna cotta is a traditional Piedmontese dessert. It wasn't until the 1960s that chef Ettore Songia wrote down the recipe for the first time. History and anecdotes aside, panna cotta is a simple dessert even for amateur bakers: quick and practical, it can be enriched with different ingredients according to personal taste, served in a single or several moulds.
This is the most popular cream cheese dessert of all time, prepared in two versions: the no-bake version, in which the cream cheese is left to firm up in the fridge, or the baked one, with the addition of beaten eggs. Of course, the former is preferable during the summer, to be prepared with a crumbly base, made from crushed biscuits and melted butter. The original American recipe calls for the graham crackers, unique-tasting biscuits made with white flour, honey and wheat germ, that can be replaced with digestive biscuits or simple shortbread. In the US, the classic cream cheese spread is used for the cream cheese preparation, but there are alternatives such as ricotta or mascarpone cheese, yoghurt and cream or any creamy dairy product.
A mouth-watering, baroque-style British spoon dessert made from several layers of sponge cake soaked in sherry or other fortified wines, whipped cream and fruit (many believe the Italian recipe Zuppa inglese derives from it). Originally created to use up leftover sponge cake and fruit, over time the trifle has become increasingly popular in the UK, where there are several versions, many with a fruit jelly base. It's easy to make, but it's best served in a footed glass bowl to show off the different coloured layers.
One of the best-known in the United States, this simple yet delicious banana ice-cream based dessert made its way around the world, despite being a recent invention. The recipe was invented by Chester Platt, a pharmacist from Ithaca, New York, who is also credited with the invention of the sundae, ice cream dessert topped with syrups, whipped cream, hazelnut grains and other delicacies. Banana split, after all, is a variation on the sundae, which involves adding a banana cut in half (hence the name split, meaning 'divided'), served on a plate and garnished with the inevitable cherry. It became so popular and ingrained in American culture over time, enough to have its own festival, the Banana Split Festival, celebrated every year in Wilmington, Ohio.
Don't let the name mislead you: Bavarian cream was not born in Germany but in 19th-century France, from where it spread to other countries thanks to the skill and fame of master pastry chefs. A rich dessert made with milk, sugar, eggs, fresh cream and jelly, inspired by custard − the ingredients are very similar − but thicker and more pudding-like. White in the classic version, it can also be made with chocolate, strawberries or other seasonal fruit.