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Just desserts, bursting with summer flavor
By Hannah Chu

The perfect conclusion to a summer meal is a tasty and - ideally - healthy dessert, especially for the many ladies who have "two stomachs," one for regular food and one for desserts.

Desserts with a colorful yet simple presentation, rich yet not over-sweet flavor, balance and complexity in texture, are favorites this summer.

Jenny Wang, pastry chef at Double Tree by Hilton Shanghai-Pudong, together with Dicky Leung, food and beverage director at The Langham, Yangtze, Shanghai, have no doubt what makes a great dessert.

"Colorful desserts that are visually appetizing wake up a tired palate in the summer heat," says Leung.

However, it's important for those colors to come from natural ingredients such as fresh fruits, not artificial colorings, say Leung and Wang.

Unlike traditional summer desserts dominated by chilling sweetness, this year's choices tends to be more complex - such as hot chocolate fudge cake with a scoop of cold ice-cream, says Leung.

Wang says desserts are moving away from sweetness, with flavor-filled ingredients such as liquor favored instead.

The hotels have launched their summer menus and so, with empty dessert stomachs to feed, we take a bite.

Double Tree by Hilton Shanghai-Pudong

Desserts on chef Wang's summer menu range from light and fruit driven to a classical banana boat featuring intense flavors.

"I hope to express the idea of original simplicity, interpreted by using natural ingredients and all handcrafted," says Wang.

Malibu cassata kiss (left, 58 yuan/US$9.1 + 15%) - nutlet ice cream with sago topped with cream, nuts and redcurrant - features an interesting expression of textures. Scooping from the bottom reveals layers of bouncy sago, crunchy almonds, juicy redcurrants and smooth fresh cream. A refreshing, fruity note cuts through the sweetness and milky taste of the cream.

Tiramisu (58 yuan + 15%) features classical Italian flavor adapted for the summer, with heavy mascarpone cheese replaced by coffee flavor ice cream. Intense espresso together with rich chocolate create a mellow bitter-sweet flavor. A touch of rum enhances the aroma, brings out the sweetness of the chocolate.

The aptly named banana boat temptation (68 yuan + 15%) featured three ice cream balls - chocolate, vanilla and strawberry - placed on a whole sliced banana, topped with burnt almonds, pistachio nuts and seasonal fruits. A little bourbon drizzled on the ice cream provides a lingering aftertaste.

Venue: Lobby Lounge and Grand Cafe

Tel: 5050-4888 ext 6719/6720

Address: 889 Yanggao Rd S.

The Langham, Yangtze, Shanghai

Star of the dessert menu is the "dome collection," priced at 45 yuan each. It features dome-shaped mousses with four different flavors, with a thin slice of cake on the bottom, silky and light mousse in the middle and a topping. Flavors include chocolate, strawberry, apricot and blackcurrant.

The chocolate mousse accentuates a rich, smoky dark flavor with a hint of sweetness, while airy sweetness and tartness combine in the strawberry mousse.

Almond V roll (right, 50 yuan), is another popular dessert, and is based on Leung's own recipe. The emphasis is on texture, with a crispy brittle outer skin combined with an inner spongy almond cake.

Diners preferring a rich taste can try the chocolate fudge cake with caramel drizzled vanilla ice-cream (50 yuan). It's a good example of how hot and cold flavors can create a balanced and satisfying experience.

Venue: Ciao Dining Room and Bambino

Tel: 6080-0743

Address: 1/F, 740 Hankou Rd

Customer Service: (86-21) 52920164