Summer Desserts to Beat the Heat

Summer is the season when your entire concept of desserts takes a new twist. Favourites like Chocolate and Strawberry Cakes, or Mint Oreo Cake or even Indian desserts like Gulab Jamun and Gajar Ka Halwa are turned a blind eye to, and the preferred ones become ice creams or fluids – both sweet and spicy. Ice creams are generally one of the favourite desserts and makers of this delicacy come up with new flavours during summer. Though ice creams can bring us a cool and refreshing feeling in the hot summer, they are not suitable for several people. Some chefs claim that ice creams are not the ideal escape for summer heat as they could affect yours health. Ashok Malkani takes a look at the prevailing culinary scenario during summer to gauge which desserts are proving popular with people during these blistering days.

Mention summer and one conjures up visions of ice creams. It’s not just the children that lap up this delicacy but people of almost all ages eagerly grab a cone or a slice of this delectable summer cooler. But ice cream is not the only frozen dessert that is popular during this hot climate. There are juices and spicy drinks like chhaas (buttermilk) besides aerated water which are also consumed in large quantities

But, inevitably, one’s thoughts turn to the cooling treat ice cream. So why are ice creams preferred and don’t people get fed up of eating the same flavours of ice creams? Also, what concoctions have chefs come up with to sate the guests’ appetites?

Rajat Sachdev, Pastry Chef, Sofitel Mumbai BKC reveals, “During the summer season, people ideally prefer a cold beverage or ice cream. We tend to consume a cold product, as we would like to cool down our body temperatures. Ice Creams are a prime example, as they satisfy our temptations and bring a momentary cooling effect to the body.

As far as different flavours are concerned, people who have certain preferences will always like that flavour whatever it may be. Especially the love for Mangoes will never fade away. Chefs always keep innovating and introducing new desserts and flavours to satisfy the guests with a sweet tooth.

We keep experimenting with our desserts and ice creams by introducing new flavours and variations. At Sofitel Mumbai BKC, we offer Solkadhi & Blueberry ice cream. Solkadhi is a type of drink, originated f r o m the Indian subcontinent, usually consumed after meals. It is most popular in Goa and the Konkan region of India. The drink is made f r o m coconut milk and kokum. Combined with blueberry, this nutritious ice cream is full of antioxidants. It is a great digestive, refreshing and cooling dessert - most ideal to consume during the summer months. We also have a selection of other ice creams, sorbets and kulfi.

I may add that as ice creams are rich in calories, the digestive system needs to break down the nutrients hence, the initial cooling effect is rapidly replaced by heat. Therefore, ice cream isn’t the ideal summer escaping solution.

Beverages such as fruit juices, soft drinks, etc. are ideal for consumption in the summer as they help in body hydration. Active ingredients in spicy food also trigger the heat transfer through sweat and help our body to cool further.

Instead, I would suggest that one tries out the different flavour of sorbet (frozen dessert prepared with fruit and sugar which is gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan) and Granita (an icy dessert prepared out of the same ingredients like sorbet - fruit and sugar, however unlike sorbet which is frozen and churned. Granita is spread into a layer and then frozen. Granita is much coarser and icier than a smooth scope of sorbet). Seasonal Sorbet and Granita are served at Sofitel Mumbai BKC such as Rose Sorbet, Watermelon and Mint Granita and much more.”

Raj Kumar, Bakery Chef, The Suryaa New Delhi, avers, “Though that ice cream is considered to be a summer cooler, however there are other frozen desserts which can replace the ice creams such as Granita, Sorbet, Frozen Yogurts, Gelato, Frozen Custard, etc.

Ice cream companies are coming up with different ice cream flavours for their potential customers with the objective to provide different tastes so that they may not get bored due to the ‘same taste’ monotony.

Similarly, hotels are also coming up with different kinds of cool desserts so that the potential guests have varieties to choose f r o m such as chilled pudding, custards, sorbet, mojito sorbet and frozen yogurts. In addition to this, you may find different ways of serving ice creams such as Teppanyaki ice creams, Sundaes, Deep fried ice creams; Kulfi and monster Shakes are quite popular among millennials these days.

At The Suryaa New Delhi, we have Teppanyaki ice cream plate in our all day dining restaurant – Ssence. This is one of the best and popular feature in our restaurant and has been appreciated by most of the guests. Apart f r o m this, we also have our in-house prepared ice creams like seven treasure ice cream, coconut ice cream and deep fried ice cream which is served in our rooftop Pan Asian restaurant – Sampan.”

Sundeep Nunes, Sous Bakery Chef, Renaissance Mumbai, states, “Ice cream is something that is enjoyed by each and everyone, especially during the season of parching sun. Few other exciting components that people should add or consume to cool their body during this season are Yoghurt, Mint, Lime, Fennel etc.

There are very few problems in life that cannot be fixed by ice cream. It’s not only suitable at any time, but the variety of flavours really puts it ‘There’ with the greatest of foods. In today’s time, we at Renaissance Mumbai, serve some exhilarating teppanyaki ice-cream on frost top which is customised according to the guests’ preferences.

One of my recent inventions that is very well appreciated is ‘Sundae made with grilled Brioche’. Though Banana split with ice-cream is a common dessert enjoyed by all, the sauces we use as a topping on the split is what I like to experiment with. Caramelised cinnamon rum sauce is one of my personal favorites.”

Kuldeep Singh, Executive Chef, Holiday Inn Chennai OMR IT Expressway, claims “ice cream, in summer, is cooling. It provides your body with a handful of key nutrients, including bone-strengthening calcium and blood-pressure-lowering potassium and energizing B vitamins. It also provides a decent amount of protein, which is important in tissue repair and cell growth. And the most important part: it cools down your body temperature when it comes to burning heat.

It is very true that having the same flavour time and again will kill the appetite and you might end up not liking that flavour. Being a chef, we are always innovative and considerate about coming up with new ideas so that people do not bored with summer coolers. 

Being a chef I always prefer to go with Gelato and frozen dessert as well as fresh fruit pastries and cold fruit soups. And there are many more desserts and fresh fruit base drink which is really a heat buster and gives your body and soul a calm and cool feel.

I always prefer homemade Gelato and in that also I would introduce seasonal fruits and flavours which our guest really love and enjoy and when it comes to homemade it will be always healthy as well as keeping diet in mind. As we have Mango season, introducing Fresh Mango Gelato and ice-creams are the best option we have right now, besides Watermelon and Nungu.”

Ashivini Kumar, Executive Chef, Four Points by Sheraton Navi Mumbai, Vashi, states, “People in India feel that ice cream, gelato, sorbet, kulfi and cold beverages are the ideal solutions to beat the summer heat, but that is not true. People can also opt for any natural cold beverages like Shikanji, Aam Panna, Chaas, Lassi, Fresh fruits juice, Fresh fruits shakes, Fresh Fruits Ice Tea, Chia Falooda, Tender Coconut, etc.

We all get tired of eating the same flavours of ice creams every time. Guests nowadays believe in new innovative variations in F&B. To soothe this we, at Four Points by Sheraton, always try and bring up something innovative for our guests. When it comes to desserts we have different kinds of cold desserts available e.g. Parfait, Sorbet, Granita, Frozen pies, Jell-O, Mousses, etc. We also offer a few cold desserts, which guests can choose f r o m.

We offer mostly the seasonal fresh fruit flavours, which are more in demand at our property. Earlier we had strawberries in season and now it is time for Mango season. We have been experimenting with the making of Ice cream Cakes, Ice cream Sandwich with popular Biscuits, Cookies & Wafer etc. Tender Coconuts Ice Cream with Chia Seeds is the most on demand experiment of ours.”

Rohit Pushpavanam, Executive Chef, Alila Diwa Goa, declares, “Our body is constantly producing heat to assist the digestive process of the body. Ice creams offer a temporary respite f r o m the heat and more often that is what attracts us to walk in to an ice cream parlour and indulge in our favourite scoop during summers. An ice cream may cool your body for a bit however, they need a lot of energy to digest which in turn produces more heat. The ideal way to deal with summer heat is to consume lots of water, coconut water, fruits, fruit juices that is easy on the digestive system and thus balances the heat produced in the body, keeping us cooler.

Everyone wants to try out new flavours and as Chefs we keep trying out different combinations to offer something new to the guests. To mention a few, we have Sundaes, Cold cheese cakes, Pies, Kitty chocolate muffins, Brownie truffle. Some of the flavours thought up by me and appreciated by our guests are Thandai ice cream and red velvet gelato roll.

Liquid Coolers

With the onset of summer, the desire to quench thirst, experienced due to heat overtakes all culinary yearnings. The chefs have to plan for summer drinks as the summer sets in. So what is the planning done by chefs and what are the fluid desserts planned by them? Are these fluids only fruit juices or do they include spicy drinks?     

Kuldip claims, “As soon as summer starts I plan for summer special desserts, ice creams, gelato and cold drinks and even in my buffet I introduce few drinks so our guest can experience the best. And it’s all about planning and executing the same.

In summer season most of the guest like drinks which are more of authentic and give that soothing feeling inside out. In my restaurant at Holiday Inn Chennai OMR IT Expressway, the guests prefer to have Subza rose milk, Nimboo Pudina sarbat and fresh Mango milkshake.

I always try to introduce something new during the summer, be it Chaas or Lassi or any summer mocktails like Mango shooter and Nimboo thandai, which is my personal favourite. We serve NUNGU water as well.”

Sundeep says, “I plan for summer coolers long before the onset of summer to avoid the last minute rush. I make sure everything is in place so that we can serve our guests in the best way possible with our preparations. We, at Renaissance, have recently launched Absolute Lime cocktail 1+1 offer, at our Italian themed restaurant Fratelli Fresh, for lunch on weekends in the summer vacations. Apart f r o m cocktails we also serve all-time guests favorite – Lassis , Milk shake & Chhaas.

Renaissance echoes and embraces the locale. Recently an expat guest wanted to taste the authentic, local indigenous flavours of Mumbai. I served him a glass of Lassi infused with Gulkand, Paan and Rose flavours.”

Ashvini asserts, “We always have our marketing plans set well in advance through which we make sure we set the festivals calendar to entertain our guests and bring out something new all the time. To beat the heat we have come up with an interesting Mango Dessert & Beverages festival during May end which will highlight the varieties of Mango desserts & beverages.

As far as cold drinks are concerned, we have demand for both kinds of beverages – sweet as well as spicy.  Sweets are: different kind of Milkshakes & Cold Desserts. Salty & Spicy ones are: Jal Jeera, Shikanji, Nimboo Pani, Salted Chaas, Lassi, Aam Panna, Kokum, Spicy Guava Mary, Fresh Tomato Virgin Mary.

I recall, once we had a request for milkshakes without dairy. We made a fruit puree shake with soya milk and that tasted amazing. We have also prepared Green Tea Ice Tea, which is not so common.”

Raj Kumar reveals, “Summer desserts and coolers are decided well in advance before the season comes. We have decided to continue with our hot selling items like freaky Shakes, cold Coffee, seven treasure ice cream, Teppanyaki ice cream and deep fried ice cream, Aam Panna, instant Iced Tea, Watermelon & Mint cooler, Coconut cooler, Peach cooler, Rooh afza & Mint cooler.

Multiple guests have multiple tastes. These days most people prefer aerated drinks during summer. Some others prefer Chaas, salted Lassi, fresh Lime Soda, etc. during lunch. However, their preference changes to Milk Shakes, Cold Coffee, etc. during evening high tea. Same guests prefer cold desserts after their meal. Chefs are God gifted culinary magician to the foodies’ world. We have concocted flavoured Paan Milk Shake.”

Rajat reveals, “We plan well in advance for the summer. There are many desserts that we do for the summers apart f r o m beverages and ice creams. At times, the menu is decided on the spur of the moment and added in the ‘Chef’s special’ accordingly or as per guest preferences.

With a climate as varied and extreme as India, people require a myriad of options to keep their thirst appropriately quenched. As per the weather conditions, eclectic assortment of ingredients available which include local spices, flavours and herbs, the product consumed can help trigger heat transfer through sweat and help our body to cool. So while cold treats can be satisfying and are certainly refreshing, a better way to beat the heat is to spice things up, get your sweat on and, most importantly, rehydrate.

At Sofitel Mumbai BKC, we have this concept, called BarChef, wherein our bartenders and mixologists innovate and play with ingredients to create unique concoctions and flavours. Aam Panna is one such example, wherein we take the seasonal fruit Mango and give it a twist. The Aam Panna drink has been specially introduced in all our outlets for the summer season as it is a cool and refreshing drink, perfect for this season!”

Rohit iterates, “Desserts are planned well in advance, before summer and the planning and procurement starts into practice. I have tried a delicious and easy recipe for making ice cream with a little twist on standard, like Chaas flavoured and Tamarind chilly ice cream.

Fruits to beat the heat

Summer season with the rising mercury is an ideal time for fruits like Watermelon. So do people just prefer to nibble on fruits during the summer, or do they go in for desserts with a touch of fruit?  

Rajat avers, “During summer, ice cream becomes the preferred dessert amongst all. As we know in the summer, it’s very essential to keep our body hydrated and we should eat summer fruits like Watermelon, Plums, Cherries, Grapes, Kiwis, etc. that act as a perfect source of nutrients. It’s always recommended to eat fruits before your meal, but when the fruit is mixed with your most loved ice creams, fresh creams, sauces, syrups, etc. they look more palatable and lavish. Dishes like Strawberry Shortcakes, Plum Galette and Fruit Trifle are some of the known recipes that we can consume during summers.

During summers, mango is a highly preferred fruit and everyone looks for dessert option in the same. But we do offer a variety of flavours and options in desserts, and ice creams, such as Mango Cheesecake, Watermelon and Vodka Sorbet, Blueberry Granita and more. Apart f r o m these desserts we also have the classic Indian desserts, and a number of fusion desserts such as fresh Mango along with Shrikhand and much more”.

Rohit asserts, “People prefer more water-based fruits in the summer as it’s more cooling. Fruit desserts are in demand as well and we try out different ways to make it tastier and attractive. Mango is the flavour of the season and is incorporated in our dessert spread in a big way.”

Raj reveals, “People who are health conscious prefer only fruits as desserts. At the Suryaa New Delhi we have different ‘Flavour of the Month’ based on fruit. Maximum desserts, cakes, pastries and other bakery products have fruit as the main ingredient. Summer is popular for fruits like Musk Melon, Lychee, Water melon, etc. but Mango is the most popular among all the fruits. Majority of the desserts or ice creams have mango as their main ingredient. However, guests also prefer desserts made f r o m other fruits.”

Ashvini avers, “We have a huge demand for seasonal fruit desserts all the time. Fruits like Watermelon, Melon, Mango are good fruits for summer. Mango is a king of all fruits and we have a huge fan following thus there is a high demand for desserts around this fruit. We get a different kind of Mangoes in our property, Four Points By Sheraton Navi Mumbai Vashi. We serve a variety of dishes like Mango Kulfi, Mango Juice, Mango shakes, Mango Indian & Western Dessert etc.  We keep a lot of mango dessert & beverages option available to our guests.”

Sundeep disclosed, “Fruits are always good combination to desserts, which adds natural flavours and colours to the dish. We, at Renaissance, use fresh fruits to make and decorate the desserts. Exotic fruit and berries are very eye catchy and that’s how people like it. Fruit desserts are healthy and the consumption of sugar is also less comparatively to other desserts.

Since summer is the time for mangoes, we even have mango promotion in our outlets, like Pastry shop and Coffee shop, giving lots of varieties of mango desserts. We have also introduced Mango salads to the menu like Rucola, Mango, Feta Salad, Mango Salad and etc. We have tried giving the Aam Panna a homely feel for our guests. We have also set up the Mango Bazaar where you can buy mangoes per kg.”

Kuldeep declares, “During summer people love to try more desserts with fruits and they love to try the dessert which is more specially made keeping summer in mind. I always try different desserts, based on fruits and ingredients which really help beat the summer heat.

I would say that it’s not just mango but there are so many other choices too. We, at Holiday Inn Chennai OMR IT Expressway, keep experimenting and have desserts like Subza jelly dome, Kiwi Summer Limeade Pie, Watermelon cubic pastry and many more.”

Summing up

One can thus say that there are special concoctions dreamt up for summer. So, as one tries to beat the heat, one is definitely helped in this endeavour by the pioneering chefs who come up with some innovative creations.

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