How To Make Fruit Toppings For Dessert
Fruit is by its very nature a great dessert. It can be cut up and used right away on its own or to top pretty much anything. But with just a little prep, you can make fruit look and taste a little fancier.
Two Special Fruit Toppings
To macerate fruit basically means to let it sit in its own juices for a while. The flavor becomes more concentrated as a result. You can serve fruit just like this, or make it the base for compote or jam.
I've found berries to come out especially good, but peaches or pears are delicious too. Try combining some of your favorites. Chop up 2 cups of the fruit and put it into a bowl. Add 1 tbsp of sugar, and stir it all together. If you have any liqueur like Grand Marnier or Rum, you can add a tbsp or two as well for an extra kick of flavor. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put into the fridge for a several hours or even overnight.
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Making a compote involves cooking the fruit just enough to soften it and bring out more of it's natural flavor.
Put 2 tbsp of sugar, 1/2 cup of water and 1 tbsp of lemon juice into a saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil. Carefully add the fruit in and return it to a boil, then turn it down to simmer for about 10-15 minutes minutes. Take a taste - if you want it sweeter, add another tsp of sugar. Take off the heat and let it cool.
Recipe: Cheesecake Tarts w/ Fruit Salsa
This has got the density and flavor of a NY-style cheesecake with less fat. All it takes to lighten it up is a couple of substitutions. Tart-sized portions help limit the calorie count, too - although you may be tempted to have more than one!
- 10 (half crackers) low-fat graham crackers
- 2 tbsp butter or margarine, or 1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp sliced almonds
- 1 package (8 oz) Neufchatal Cheese or low-fat cream cheese
- 1 container (6 oz) plain greek yogurt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 tbsp white sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla
- 1 tbsp white flour
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray or spread vegetable oil into 12 muffin cups. Put the crackers, butter and nuts into a food processor bowl or blender. Pulse until they combine and are crumbly.
- Divide the mixture between the muffin cups. Taking a small glass, gently press down into each to spread the crust across the bottom and up the side. Bake for 7 minutes.
- Put the cheese, yogurt, eggs, sugar, vanilla and flour into the food processor or blender. Run until they are well-combined and the mixture is smooth.
- Spoon the mixture into each muffin tin almost to the top of the crust. Bake the tarts for 20-25 minutes, until the filling rises (it may crack slightly). Let them cool, then put the tin into the freezer for 10 minutes to make them set.
To make Fruit Salsa:
- 1 kiwi, peeled
- 1/2 cup (about 1/2 fruit) peaches
- 1 banana
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 1 tbsp white sugar (?)
- 1 tsp nutmeg
Chop the fruit into small chunks. Then combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir to mix well. Let it sit in the refrigerator for about an hour before serving.
Bonus Recipe: Cocoa-Banana Cake
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 cups honey
3/4 cup low-fat milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg + 1 tbsp packaged egg whites (or 2 large eggs)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 banana, sliced thinly
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Use the 2 tbsp vegetable oil to coat the bottom of a cake pan.
- Combine the flour, cocoa and baking powder. Add the honey, oil, egg and vanilla in, beating everything together with a mixer. Slowly add the milk and continue to beat until the batter is smooth.
- Pour the batter into the pan. Lay the banana slices on top in a single layer. Sprinkle the walnuts over them.
- Bake for 40 minutes until cake is firm and pulling away from the sides of the pan.
- Serving Idea: macerated sliced strawberries and a dollop of vanilla greek yogurt
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