Roulades make impressive and popular desserts and are ideal for parties because they can be made ahead and need no last-minute attention.
Macadamia nuts with their buttery, almost shortbread-litreike flavour, turn these simple chocolate slices, which are somewhere between a mousse and a cake, into something special. If you like the current craze for adding salted nuts or salt caramel to chocolate bars, try using salted macadamias, but if not, the plain variety are readily available.
The perfect dessert that can also double as a birthday cake for anyone who finds chocolate brownies irresistible – and, let’s face it, that means most of us! Keep an eye on the brownie layers towards the end of the cooking time. If they’re left too long in the oven, the centres will dry out rather than remaining gooey and dark.
The tuile recipe will make more than you need, so store the extras to serve with coffee.
For a warming winter pudding, nothing will beat these feel-good sponges.
This dessert is a good way to use up bread that has started to go stale. White or whole wheat bread work equally well. Serve plain or dusted with icing sugar, with custard or cream.
Make this deliciously smooth and creamy cake in a tin with a removable base, as the finished dessert will be much easier to remove.
This is a deliciously smooth, plain chocolate tart that can be served warm or cold.
A chocolate mille-feuille that, instead of layers of puff pastry, uses fine waves of marbled chocolate to sandwich the rich and creamy mousse.
A classic chocolate dessert that’s rich, dark and oh so satisfying. It’s important to serve the puddings as soon as they come out of the oven so the soft gooey centres don’t overcook and become dry.
Warming the passion fruit seeds and pulp makes it easier to separate them, but if you don’t object to the seeds, simply stir the seeds and pulp into the crème anglaise.
Chocolate and coffee are natural partners and combine together beautifully in this classic French dessert. Once the egg yolks have been added, transfer the mixture to a measuring jug to make it easier to pour into the ramekins.
Adding cornflour and either lemon juice or vinegar to the mixture keeps the centre of the baked meringue marshmallow-soft and the outside crisp.
To make the pastry by hand, sieve the flour into a bowl and make a well in the centre. Place the butter and egg yolk in the well and mix to a coarse paste. Draw the flour over egg mixture and chop through with a palette knife. Sprinkle with water and bring the dough together with your hands, kneading until smooth.
When the weather is warm, these fresh fruit skewers can be cooked on a barbecue. Be careful, however, not to baste them too liberally with butter and maple syrup, because any that drips into the ashes could cause the coals to flare and scorch the lovely fruit.
The pears should be ripe but still firm, as if they’re too soft they’ll turn mushy and start to fall apart in the sauce. Any variety of pear can be used.
The secret of good shortbread is to work in a cool kitchen and handle the dough as lightly as you possibly can. Too much kneading or processing and the end result will be heavy and solid rather than buttery, melt-in-the-mouthand crisp.
It’s important to pick out a ripe mango, because if it’s still hard it will also be tasteless, and have no sweet aroma, resulting in a disappointing dessert rather than one that is lush and fragrant.
As the dish needs to go into the oven as well as under the grill, choose one that you’re sure is heatproof and not your best china!
A simple dessert that’s easy to make but stylish enough to serve for a special lunch or dinner party. Soft amaretti would make a good accompaniment.
For flavouring ice cream, a vanilla pod is much better than vanilla essence, as essences tend to deteriorate during the freezing process and lose their flavour.
For an even quicker recipe, substitute the toasted oat mixture with bought granola. Break up any large clumps by putting the cereal in a plastic bag and crushing with a rolling pin.
A quick and easy dessert that’s pure indulgence and just what you need to pick you up after a hard day. For an even faster result, use a bought toffee or butterscotch sauce or dulce de leche rather than make your own.
These crisp, golden puffs simply melt in your mouth and are deliciously addictive. Like most fritters, they are best eaten immediately.
A classic Chinese dessert that is a mainstay of Cantonese restaurant menus. The soft sweet fruit encased in crunchy caramel and sesame seeds is a real delight.
When fresh apricots are unavailable, the sauce can be made with tinned fruit. Simply blend the contents of one 400 gram (14-ounce) tin of apricot halves in fruit juice with one tablespoon honey until smooth, then warm in a saucepan when needed.
Unlike most batters, light tempura batter needs to be used as soon as it is made rather than left to stand. It’s also important to use chilled water straight from the fridge – sparkling mineral water works best – and not to fry too many pieces of fruit at one time or the temperature of the oil will drop and the batter will be soggy rather than crisp.
The biscuits can be made several days ahead and stored in an airtight container. Any ice cream can be used to sandwich the biscuits together, so just pick your family’s favourite.
Make sure you leave plenty of room at the end of the meal for one – or more - of these indulgent treats, as they’re impossible to resist. Make the scones ahead and assemble with the cream and strawberries about 30 minutes before serving.
Decadently rich and dark with a golden toffee and nut topping, these "millionaire" brownies are the ultimate feel-good dessert.
A food processor or liquidiser with a powerful motor is needed to crush ice, so if you’re unsure whether your machine is strong enough, break up the ice cubes first by placing them in a plastic bag and hitting them with a rolling pin or hammer. If you can’t get fresh summer fruits, buy a package of mixed frozen berries and currants and blend them with the fruit juices while they are still solid, omitting the ice cubes.
In Victorian times, a ‘sorbet’ always contained alcohol, arriving on the smartest dinner tables in the guise of frozen rum punches or claret cups. In the twentieth century a sorbet has come to mean a low-cal fruit ice, similar to a ‘sherbet,’ but with no dairy products added.
A granita is similar to a sorbet, but while a sorbet has a smooth, silky texture, a granita is rougher and formed of large ice crystals made by breaking up the frozen mixture with a fork. Two contrasting coloured granitas made with different fruits make a pretty and eye-catching dessert when layered in glasses.
Adding liqueur to ice cream gives it a softer texture and avoids the necessity of beating the freezing mixture two or three times to break up ice crystals (the alcohol in the liqueur acts like antifreeze in a car).
Not a mousse nor an ice cream, this semifrozen Italian dessert falls somewhere in between. Made with cream and eggs, semifreddo translates as “half cold.” This needs to be eaten quickly after serving, before it melts.
Store-bought vanilla ice cream can be used to make this crunchy-topped dessert if you prefer, but choose a good-quality one that isn’t soft scoop, which would melt too quickly in the oven.
Sweet, aromatic mangoes are a real taste of the tropics, but, as with all exotic fruits, it’s good to use your nose before you buy. If a mango has a honeyed, fragrant aroma, the chances are it will taste good too. No scent usually means no flavour either.
Warm zabaglione is a delicious dessert, but it does involve lots of last minute whipping – time you’d probably rather spend chatting to your guests. This version can be made ahead and chilled until needed.
A pretty party dessert that’s low in calories if you go easy on the cream or replace it with reduced-fat crème fraîche or yoghurt.
When they’re in season, use fresh apricots rather than canned to make the mousse, topping off the liquid to make the gelatin with extra apple juice.
I have adapted this recipe from the more complicated and long-winded version that ends up with a mountain of cream, chestnut puréeand chocolate on a large platter. You’ll need a potato ricer or mouli food mill to make this version.
One of the simplest desserts, this is a wonderful way to enjoy really fresh, good-quality ricotta. It is very soft in texture, which makes it perfect for dunking biscotti.
In Italian, panna cotta simply means “cooked cream” and the soft, silky texture of this famous dessert makes it a lovely finale to a special meal. The creams can be set in individual moulds, turned out and the coulis spooned around or they can be served in glasses as they are here.
If the choux balls go soft when cool, put them back on a baking tray and return them to a hot oven for 5 minutes, which will recrisp them beautifully.
These would make an attractive accompaniment to a bowl of fresh fruit or, if you decide not to serve a formal dessert, you could make mini versions and enjoy them with coffee or tea. The unfilled meringues can be made well ahead and stored in an airtight container.
You can pipe the choux onto the baking parchment or simply shape it with two spoons, but make sure the individual puffs are butted up close against each other.
A favourite party dessert that will never fail to elicit whoops of delight from your guests. Once you’ve whisked up the egg white mixture for the meringue, dab tiny blobs of it in each corner of the baking tray to stop the baking parchment sliding.
The meringue layers can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container and then assembled with the cream and fruit about 1-2 hours before serving.
Traditional lemon meringue pie is given an exotic new twist with a tangy layer of fragrant mango under the puffy white cloud of meringue.
Meringues make delicious desserts, but unless you’re into whipping up your own mayonnaise or crème anglaise, it can be a problem working out what to do with the egg yolks. In this recipe, the yolks are turned into lemon curd for the filling.
Once unwrapped, filo pastry dries out very quickly and becomes too hard and brittle to use, so work as quickly as you can.
Frangipane is a sweet almond sponge mixture that is popular in France, where it is added to several classic desserts such as these fruit flans. If you don’t have individual flan tins, make one large one using a 20- or 23-cm (8- or 9-inch) tin.
A great dessert when you’ve got the family to feed, it’s filling and deliciously fruity.
Chocolate and peanut butter are a marriage made in heaven in this wickedly rich dessert. If you don’t have a pie plate, use an 20-cm (8-inch) flan tin instead.
A gorgeous taste of summer, this pie would be perfect for a party in the garden on a sunny day. Do not add the sliced strawberries for decoration until just before serving or juices will run from the fruit and spoil the appearance of the crème fraîche.
If you don’t have ramekins, you could use ovenproof tea or coffee cups or other containers with straight sides. The shape of the cups is important, because if the sides slope outward the soufflés won’t rise properly.
Not many desserts need to be served immediately after they come out of the oven, but soufflés most certainly do. If you delay, the soft, fluffy cloud will collapse.
Not strictly a sponge or a hot soufflé, this classic French batter pudding falls somewhere between. The fluffy batter mixture puffs up and becomes lighter in the oven and contrasts well with the sweet pears and sharper-flavoured raspberries.
Another English specialty that combines a fruit-topped sponge with a rich, toffee-like sauce. You'll need to use a heatproof bowl and cook the sponge in a steamer. Serve with extra stewed apples if you like.
The secret ingredient in this light, fruity sponge is the whole lemons, which are cooked whole, then puréed. It's best to use lemons with thin skins, as too much pith between the zest and fruit will make the cake taste bitter.
An English classic made from curd cheese. To keep the fruit from sinking, allow the mixture to stand for 10-15 minutes before baking, giving it a chance to thicken.
A classic English dessert that’s warm and comforting when the weather is cold. The soft crumbly sponge makes the perfect foil for the creamy fudge sauce.
Leaving the cheesecake to cool slowly in the oven will help prevent the top from cracking, but if it does, just cover the cracks with cream when you decorate it.
Tangy, citrussy and with a deliciously moist texture, this sponge cake makes a lovely summer dessert when served with a selection of fresh fruits.
Ricotta makes this baked cheesecake beautifully light, but if you want something slightly heavier and creamier, replace half the ricotta with full-fat cream cheese.
The easiest way to serve this creamy cheesecake is to cut it into slices with a sharp, serrated knife so the orange slices on top are separated into neat portions.
This is equally good served as a dessert or as a special cake to celebrate a birthday or anniversary. Let the ganache cool at room temperature rather than in the fridge.
A variation on the famous French tart named after the sisters who, so the story goes, cooked their favourite apple tart upside down by mistake. When inverting the cooked tart onto a serving plate, be sure the plate is large enough to prevent any hot caramel splashing over your hands.