From rosemary to lavender, bay leaves to basil, everyday garden herbs can add beautiful fragrance to your bakes and desserts. While mint and chocolate might be a classic pairing, have you thought about plum and bay or peach and rosemary? Fresh herbs are aromatic and punchy and a little goes a long way so even if you've got a modest herb garden, you can make the most of a basil plant or a sprig or two of thyme in these inventive, summery sweet treats.
Lavender is blooming at the moment, during June and July, and while bees love these floral, purple flowers, they are a wonderful addition to sweet desserts too. This elegant vanilla panna cotta can be made ahead and served up on the day with these beautifully delicate, floral poached apricots. You can also dry out your lavender and use it in bakes, like this Lemon & Lavender Drizzle Cake throughout the year. Lavender is strong so be careful; use it sparingly as it's easy to make your food taste like soap!
Juicy summer peaches pair perfectly with aromatic rosemary in this show-stopping tart. Here peaches are poached in a simple sugar syrup infused with fresh rosemary. Dotted onto a sweet pastry base with almond cream, this is worth all the effort. Make extra rosemary syrup if you like, to drizzle onto cakes or shake into cocktails. You could also swap in thyme or lavender.
Fresh bay leaves are a world apart from their dried counterparts, and lend themselves well to custard, milk or cream-based desserts. This Plum and Bay Custard Tart is another good example. If you have access to a bay tree, all the better! Their fragrant sweetness works so well with tart blackcurrants in these cute, dinner party desserts. "This is one of my favourite flavour combinations", says Ruby and we agree.
"With the subtle addition of lemon thyme, I try to infuse this cheesecake with the flavour of an Italian country garden", says Gerhard Jenne who likes to draw from his herb garden to flavour his favourite sweets. Here, leaves of fragrant lemon thyme are sprinkled and rolled onto the sweet pastry, then baked, filled with a creamy filling and tart raspberries, and baked again. So good!
Here, plenty of fresh mint, rum, lime and sugar combine to make a refreshing frozen cocktail – what could be better in the heat of summertime? Of course, these won't work for kids but you can take out the rum for a teetotal granita. Alternatively, draw from your basil pot for an equally refreshing Basil-Flavoured Lemon Sorbet from Anna del Conte's Amaretto, Apple Cake and Artichokes.