Let there be light: Skye Gyngell's soft, subtle spring desserts

As the weather gets warmer, the desire for heavy, warm desserts diminishes – all that is needed now is a little sweetness to complete a meal. Forced rhubarb is still just about around and the beautiful alphonso mangoes from India carry us over until more fruit is available here. Soft spring goat's cheese is in its prime and, served with a spoonful or so of honey, crosses the bridge perfectly between cheese and dessert. All the recipes here are simple and quick to prepare.

Skye Gyngell is head chef at Petersham Nurseries, Church Lane, Richmond, Surrey, tel: 020 8605 3627, petershamnurseries.com

Mango ice-cream

Alphonso mangoes are in season for only six weeks or so – and it is the beginning of their season now. Highly perfumed and very sweet, their flesh is wonderfully orange. They are available from Middle Eastern shops and good greengrocers.

This recipe consists of no more than puréed mango with a drop or two of cream and sugar. It is best eaten on the day it is made. If you don't have an ice-cream maker, place it in a Tupperware bowl and put in the freezer. You will need to stir it every half-hour or so until it sets to prevent the final texture being too icy.

Serves 6

4 mangoes
75g/3oz caster sugar
A pinch of salt
The juice of half a lime

Slice diagonally down the sides of the stone of each mango, cut down to remove the small strips of flesh left by the stone and, using a teaspoon, scoop out the flesh and discard the skin. Place in a food processor with the sugar and salt. Purée until smooth. Squeeze over the lime and purée briefly again. Pour into a bowl and stir in the cream. Place in an ice-cream maker and follow the maker's instructions.

Cooked cream with roasted rhubarb

I had this absolutely beautiful dessert for the first time only a week or so ago. It was made by Jeremy Lee, the chef at London's Blueprint Café, who is one of my favourite cooks. It is as delicate as you can imagine.

Jeremy quickly brushed over the technique and, like all professional cooks, gave no quantities or cooking times, just a sketchy outline. This is what I came up with. I added the biscuits myself.

Serves 8

600ml/1 pint double cream
5oz/150g caster sugar
The juice of half a lemon

For the rhubarb

2 sticks of rhubarb
21/2oz/65g caster sugar
The juice of one orange

Place the cream and sugar in a pan over a medium heat. Stir once or twice to dissolve the sugar, then allow to scald. Reduce the heat and cook for three minutes. Remove from the heat and squeeze over the lemon juice. Stir well and finely strain into a serving dish. Allow to cool to room temperature then place in the fridge to chill.

Heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6. Wash and pat dry the rhubarb and slice into two-inch pieces. Place in a bowl, scatter over the sugar, toss well and squeeze over the orange juice. Lay in a roasting tin and place on the middle shelf of the oven for 15 minutes or until the rhubarb is soft but retains its shape. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before chilling in the fridge.

Shortbread biscuits with a hint of ginger

These are delicate little biscuits that work well with the rhubarb. The dough freezes well, so use as much or as little as you like.

Makes 20 biscuits

8oz/250g unsalted butter
4oz/125g caster sugar
11/2lb/750g plain flour
1 scant tsp powdered ginger

Heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4. Butter a large baking tray. Cream the butter until pale and smooth and gradually add the sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Sift the flour with the powdered ginger and work in. Lightly knead for five minutes to form a dough – it should be smooth.

Divide the dough in half and roll each half into the shape of a fat sausage. Roll in parchment paper and chill in the fridge for half an hour. Slice into half-inch-thick rounds and lay evenly spaced on the baking tray, allowing enough room for each to spread slightly. Bake on the middle shelf for five to eight minutes or until the edges are slightly brown. The biscuits will still be slightly soft. Remove and cool on a wire rack; the biscuits will firm as they cool. Serve with the rhubarb and cream.

Spring goat's cheese and rhododendron honey

Goat's cheese is never better than at this time of year. Soft, chalky, crumbly, delicate and slightly lemony in flavour, it should be eaten alone rather than as part of a cheese board. Honey is the perfect accompaniment; choose one that is light in flavour, perhaps with a slightly crystally texture. This very simple plate bridges the gap between cheese and dessert. Don't serve with bread or biscuits, as it simply doesn't need it.

The cheese I have used here is a lovely creamy white rindless cheese known as St Tola from County Clare in Ireland, but taste a few and see which ones you like.

Serves 4

600g/21oz goat's cheese
8 tsp of light fragrant honey (such as rhododendron honey)
4 broad bean pods (optional)

Arrange the cheese on each plate and drizzle two teaspoons of honey over just before serving. When they come into season in June, you could scatter each plate with the contents of one pod of broad beans.

New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £30,000 Uncapped

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Day In a Page

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all