For me, winter is for comforting, lavish, luxurious desserts like a big pile of brownies or a treacle tart. But come summer, I long for something lighter and more tropical. One of my favourite cocktails to order on a warm summer's evening is a piña colada - there's something about the mix of coconut and pineapple that has me imagining lying on the white sands of a Caribbean island and sipping it through a straw (with a cocktail umbrella, of course). When thinking about a dessert to make for a barbecue last weekend I decided that I would try and re-invent one of my favourite dishes, the humble Eton Mess, but give it a new lease of life by using coconut, mango and pineapple instead of strawberries... And so my pineapple, mango and coconut Eton Mess was born (served with a pineapple and coconut coulis). It's the perfect dish for a summer barbecue or garden party (but it's so quick and easy to whip up that you might just decide to make it whenever the sun comes out, and eat it straight out of the bowl with a spoon. I won't tell).
It's worth mentioning that you can vary the amounts of fruit according to taste - I used 225g of pre-prepared and chopped pineapple and mango but you can add more, or different fruits if you like. This recipe is difficult to get wrong - summer is all about relaxing and rolling with it so feel free to freestyle and change the quantities or even the ingredients...
Ingredients - Serves 4
225g of chopped pineapple
225g of chopped mango
300ml of double cream
4 x meringue nests
150g icing sugar
100ml of innocent coconut water (plus an extra splash to go in with the cream)
1. Whisk the cream until it forms soft peaks (you can use either whipping cream or double cream for this but whipping cream will form peaks slightly quicker). Once the cream reaches this stage, stir in a tablespoon of coconut water. You can add a little more (to taste) but too much will affect the consistency, so add about half a tablespoon at a time and stir it in before adding any more. (Photograph below ably assisted by my Mum!)
2. Stir the chopped mango into the cream, then crumble in the meringues (you can just do this by hand). Take out 125g of the pineapple and stir this into the mix.
3. Next - make the coulis. Blend the remaining 100g of pineapple with the icing sugar and coconut water. This will form the coulis. If it looks too runny, add more icing sugar. If it looks too thick then add more coconut water.
4. Place the cream, meringue and fruit mix into sundae dishes, then pour the coulis over the top. Garnish with mint leaves or chunks of coconut. Drizzle with more coconut water if you like - the sweet, nuttiness works so well with the tanginess of the pineapple so you can't go wrong, however you vary the quantities (plus, coconut water is so good for you that it basically cancels out the sugar in the meringues, right?)
And there you go - super easy, and super tasty. My kind of recipe! What's your favourite summer dessert?