What desserts can I make on the barbecue?
Sam, Hay-on-Wye, Powys
You’re essentially looking at fruit here, Sam. But that doesn’t necessarily mean chocolate-stuffed bananas, says Helen Graves, author of Live Fire – “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” Stone fruits are also a very good friend of the barbecue, because they take on that smoky flavour so well. To this end, Graves halves and stones peaches, then pops them in an oven tray with “warming spices” (think cardamom, cinnamon, vanilla) and a splash of dessert wine.
“They cook down slowly and go lovely and soft and jammy. Have them with cream or clotted cream.” Or, says Kenny Tutt, chef-owner of Bayside Social and Pitch in Worthing and Patty Guy in Brighton, take inspiration from a classic peach melba. Again, start by halving and stoning peaches, then put them on a couple of layers of tinfoil, dress with a little sugar, a squeeze of lemon and some flaked almonds, wrap up and roast for 15-20 minutes. Serve with raspberry coulis – blitz some raspberries with a touch of lemon, a bit of icing sugar and caster sugar – and a good dollop of vanilla ice-cream. “Just keep it old-school”.
If you like piña colada, Tutt recommends “getting yourself a ripe pineapple. Peel it, cut the fruit into four wedges, then cut out and discard the core.” Knock up a glaze with maple syrup or honey, fresh lime zest and juice, and, if the mood takes you, dark rum. “Get some char lines on the pineapple by putting it on direct heat, then [off the direct heat] cook for 15-30 minutes, glazing the fruit every five minutes, until it’s nice and sticky.” Finish things off with a dollop of mascarpone or creme fraiche whipped with toasted coconut, vanilla paste and sugar, and top with lime zest. “It tastes like the tropics.”
There is also much pleasure to be found in a classic summer pudding, and thankfully Rukmini Iyer has created a barbecue-friendly version in her book The Green Barbecue: pile blackberries, raspberries and blueberries on to foil with a vanilla pod and some caster sugar, then fold into a parcel. Iyer cooks this over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes and serves it with toasted brioche (done so on the barbecue, naturally) with a spoonful of mascarpone and a scattering of toasted almonds and fresh mint.
It is, after all, such finishing touches that can really set your barbecue game apart, and smoked cherries are another cracking example. Graves takes a roasting tin, adds pitted and halved cherries, a rosemary sprig, lemon juice, maple syrup and salt, tosses together, then adds “a splash of water to stop the cherries burning on the bottom”. Chuck an optional handful of wood chips on top of the coals and push the lot to one side. “Put the roasting tin on the other side, so you get a gentle heat, pop on the lid [if you have one] and leave the cherries to cook and soften for half an hour.” Then, for a real thrill from the grill, layer them in an ice-cream sundae. Happy days.