Recipe: Bake Off Steph’s holiday-inspired tropical dessert

PUBLISHED: 17:28 02 July 2020 | UPDATED: 17:28 02 July 2020

Layerred tropical fruit dessert. Picture by Steph Blackwell

Layerred tropical fruit dessert. Picture by Steph Blackwell

Steph Blackwell

How to make Steph Blackwell’s summery tropical layered dessert

Layerred tropical fruit dessert. Picture by Steph BlackwellLayerred tropical fruit dessert. Picture by Steph Blackwell

Without banging on about it too much, this year has been a bumpy ride hasn’t it? There has been so much to challenge us, to upset our balance, huge uncertainty, fear, unknowns and adversity. Despite this, I hope 2020 can also mark a year of change, one where we have been gifted time to really appreciate those things we may, previously, have taken for granted; family, friends, people, shopping, eating out, holidays, hugging one another. I hope with a little more gratitude, we can emerge into a brighter future.

When I think about some of the things I have missed, besides the obvious family, friends and a degree of ‘normality’, I’ve really acknowledged how important a holiday is for me. A time to switch off, relax and recharge, to soak up culture, and a country’s cuisine. If there is one thing that screams holiday to me, it is tropical fruits, I’m thinking Pina Coladas on the beach, mountains of fresh mango/passion fruit/papaya/pineapple for breakfast, fruit juices and sorbets by the swimming pool.

For this month’s recipe, I’ve chosen to bring home the tropical flavours that remind me of a sunny holiday. I’ve opted for a combination of sweet mango and passion fruit coulis, coconut panna cotta, raspberry jelly and a coconut and lime shortbread. This recipe may sound daunting, but I promise you it’s totally achievable – and well worth trying. It simply requires a little bit of patience, while each element sets. This one is bound to impress – and at the same time, evoke wonderful memories of holiday. I hope you enjoy it.

Layered tropical fruit dessert

Serves 6


For the coconut panna cotta

240g thick part of 1-2 cans full fat coconut milk*; 200g double cream; 40g caster sugar; finely grated zest of 2 limes; 2.5 sheets of gelatine

*Essential that use thick part of coconut milk. In order to encourage separation of can of coconut milk place in freezer for 30-45 mins and don’t shake on removal.

For the raspberry jelly

300g defrosted frozen raspberries; 100g caster sugar; 3 sheets of gelatine; squeeze of lemon juice from one lemon

For the mango passion fruit coulis

200g fresh mango; 80g fresh passion fruit pulp; juice of 1 lime; 4tsp caster sugar

For the lime crumble/shortbread/biscuit

50g plain flour; 25g rice flour; 50g unsalted butter; 25g caster sugar; 12g toasted desiccated coconut; zest of ¼ Lime

*quantity makes plenty – store remainder to enjoy with a cuppa

For the garnish

Handful of toasted flaked coconut; approx. 60g chopped mango; 2 tbsp passion fruit


For the raspberry jelly, first place the gelatin leaves in water to soak for 5 minutes. Next measure out the raspberries and sugar into a saucepan, stir on a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Once the sugar has dissolved, bring to the boil for 2 minutes before removing from the heat. Squeeze the water from the gelatin leaves and stir through the mixture. Once combined, pass through a sieve, into a jug. Pour the raspberry mixture evenly into 6 (approx. 250ml) tumblers. Transfer to the fridge to set for approximately 2 hours.

Once the raspberry jelly has set. Prepare the coconut and lime panna cotta. Place the gelatin leaves in water for at least 5 minutes. Spoon off 240g of the thick part of 1-2 cans of coconut milk and pop into a saucepan with the double cream, sugar and lime zest. Bring to the boil over a low to medium heat. Remove from the heat, squeeze the water out of the soaked gelatin leaves and add to the pan. Stir thoroughly to combine before passing through a sieve into a large jug. Remove the tumblers from the fridge and evenly distribute the panna cotta mixture on top of the jelly. Pop back in the fridge to set. This could take a couple of hours – you want to be able to touch the top and feel that its nicely set.

While the panna cotta is setting prepare the shortbread. Toast the desiccated coconut over a medium heat – keep an eye on it to ensure it doesn’t catch. Transfer to a plate to cool. Beat the butter and sugar to make a paste - approximately 1 minute depending on how soft butter is. Add the sifted flours, cooled desiccated coconut and lime zest before beating on a very low speed just to roughly bring the ingredients together. Transfer the dough to the work surface and lightly knead – don’t overwork – it may be quite crumbly but don’t be tempted to handle it too much. Wrap in clingfilm and pop in the fridge for around 30 minutes to an hour to firm up.

Preheat the oven to 150C fan and line a baking tray with parchment. Once firm, remove the shortbread dough from the fridge and roll out to around 5mm thick. Stamp out small rounds using a 4cm cutter (or whatever you have to hand). Place on the baking tray and bake for 20-25 minutes or until turning lightly golden around the edges. Transfer to a wire rack to cool and dust lightly with caster sugar.

Once the panna cotta has set, prepare the mango passion fruit coulis. Measure out the mango into a food processor. Blitz to a puree, add the lime juice and sugar and blitz again before adding the passion fruit and pulsing one final time to combine. Remove the tumblers from the fridge and evenly distribute the coulis on top. When ready to serve, garnish with a few chunks of diced mango, an extra teaspoon of passion fruit, some coconut flakes and serve alongside a couple of shortbread biscuits.

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