Archive for the ‘Crisps and Other Fruit Desserts’ Category
Galettes are wonderful desserts to make with fresh fruit because really let the fruit shine and are also quite easy to prepare. This Plum and Blueberry Galette has a filling made with fresh plums and blueberries, which not only make a good flavor combination, but turn into a dramatic dessert that has a vivid purple color to it.
A galette is a free-form tart that has a flaky pastry crust, rather like a pie that you can make without using a pie plate. Since the tart has a casual look, I always feel like I can put just about anything inside one and often use a combination of whatever fruit I have on hand. In this case, I used some sweet, ripe plums and plump blueberries. Both fruits have a bold sweetness to them and they work well together, giving the tart a wonderfully jammy flavor that is perfectly showcased in a buttery, flaky pie crust.
I typically leave the skins on plums when I bake with them, since a lot of the color of plums comes from their skin and I like to have that bold color in my desserts. The skin is also very tender, so it rarely seems intrusive in the finished dessert. If you prefer, you can certainly peel the plums before using them. Also, be sure to taste your plums because if they are on the tart side, you might want to add a few extra tablespoonfuls of sugar to sweeten up this dessert. Serve the galette while it is still just slightly warm from the oven, either plain or with a little bit of sweetened whipped cream on the side.
Pears are a wonderful fruit that can be difficult to bake with because they are so delicious on their own that you don’t always want to try them out in a recipe. But pears can also be wonderful when they are cooked, as their delicate flavor only gets more intense when the fruit spends some time in the oven. These Caramel-Roasted Pears are one of the simplest and most delicious desserts that you can make with fresh pears. The pears become sweeter and more tender in the oven, and the easy caramel sauce goes perfectly with them.
The pears are peeled and halved, then placed in a baking pan and sprinkled with sugar. The sugar and the natural juice from the pears combine to form a flavorful, light caramel while the pears are roasting. Cream is added towards the end of the cooking time to transform the caramel into a caramel sauce that can be served alongside of the pears. I like to eat them as-is, or serve them with scoops of vanilla ice cream. I also like to add a sprinkle of nuts – toasted pistachios, walnuts or pecans – to the pears before serving to add a little crunch. The recipe doesn’t require much sugar, but you shouldn’t skimp on it unless you want a sauce that is more cream than caramel at the end of the day. For a stronger caramel flavor, use brown sugar instead of regular sugar on top of the pears.
You don’t need pears that are perfectly ripe to make this recipe. In fact, pears that are still on the firm side will be a little bit easier to peel and work with, and will still get perfectly sweet and tender in the oven. I used Bartlett pears, but this recipe will work with Bosc, Comice and other types of pears, as well. The other terrific thing about this recipe is that it can be adapted to any serving size. If you only have one pear, you can make it by scaling back the caramel sauce slightly. If you need to serve a crowd, you can use a dozen pears in two big baking dishes to make a big batch without having to change the baking time.
Apple crumble and apple crisp are some of my favorite desserts to make with apples. They’re always delicious and take a lot less prep work than a regular apple pie – which means that I make them a lot more often. I like that an apple crumble can be simple, but that it is easy to put a new spin on it by changing up the spices, the sugars, the type of apples and even by adding whole grains to the mix.
This Whole Grain Maple Apple Crumble just might be my new favorite version of apple crumble. The crisp topping has a nice nuttiness to it – thanks both to whole grain flour and oatmeal – and both the topping and the filling have a subtle maple flavor that makes this crumble addictive. It isn’t too sweet and is a great contrast with the tender apples below. I happen to like a generous amount of topping on an apple crumble and this recipe is no exception to that, either! I tossed the apples in my filling (and you can use any kind of apples you like) with both sugar and maple syrup, and used maple sugar in the crumble topping. Maple sugar can be found at many specialty stores and is, at the moment, available at Trader Joe’s. If you don’t have maple sugar, you can substitute brown sugar or add in a half teaspoon of maple extract to give the topping that maple element.
I prefer white whole wheat flour for this crumble because it lends just the right amount of whole wheat nuttiness for me. If you only have regular whole wheat flour, or prefer it, you can absolutely use that in the recipe instead. As a matter of fact, you can also use all purpose flour without changing anything and still get good results – so you can go whole grain or not whole grain and still have an absolutely delicious maple and apple dessert.
It is fairly easy to caramelize apples on the stovetop, cooking them in a pan with a bit of butter and sugar until they are browned and tender. I often do this when I want a few apples to top off a batch of waffles or pancakes for breakfast in the morning. But quickly cooking the fruit doesn’t draw out as much flavor as slowly cooking the fruit (and the same can be said with many slow cooked foods), so if I have a little bit more time to put into my apples, I opt for oven roasting them instead.
These Oven-Roasted Maple Apples are an absolutely delicious way to enjoy apples, almost like apple pie without the need for any crust. Thick slices of apple are tossed in a mixture of melted butter and maple syrup, then are spread onto a baking sheet and roasted until the apples are tender and the edges of the fruit are caramelized. The maple syrup and butter give the apples a wonderful glaze, but the long and slow cooking intensifies the apple flavor and that is what makes these so delicious. I like to cook them in relatively small batches so that I can eat them right away, while they’re still warm, but you can cook up a bigger batch in advance and reheat them before serving if you want them to serve a crowd.
Sometimes I add a little bit of cinnamon to the maple syrup mixture to give the apples a spicier flavor. You can actually add some nutmeg and cloves to the cinnamon to give the apples a spiced cider flavor, but I will readily admit that I like these best when they are roasted plain with just high quality maple syrup. Serve these on top of waffles for breakfast, or when they are still warm over a big bowl of vanilla ice cream.
Apples and candy bars are pretty much at opposite ends of the snacking spectrum, but sometimes opposites can work together in surprising ways to create something great. These Candy Bar-Stuffed Baked Apples are a lot like that. They are tender, oven-roasted apples that are stuffed with candy bars before baking so that they have a gooey, warm, indulgent filling when you cut them open.
The inspiration for the apples came from a chocolate and caramel covered candy apple that I had recently. The sweet coating was a great contrast with the sweet-tart apple inside. This baked apple is like an inside out caramel apple, where the candy is packed at the center of the fruit instead of wrapped around it. I used leftover snack-sized Halloween candy bars as my filling, stuffing them into the center of the cored apples. The candy bars hold up well during baking and just about all of my filling stayed inside of my apples.
My personal preference on these apples was to use Milky Way or Snickers’ type candy bars. The peanuts from the Snickers added some nice texture, and worked with the caramel apple theme because those apples are often dipped in nuts. The Milky Way seemed to have more caramel and the nougat was nice when it was warm. Milk chocolate seems to be a bit better than dark chocolate for me. Experiment a little bit with whatever candies you have – because I suspect a peanut butter and chocolate candy bar would be delicious – but I don’t think you could go wrong with either of these two.
The peels of the apples can become fairly tough during baking, but they give baked apples a much nicer finished look than completely peeled apples have. I usually cut some shallow vertical slits in the peel with my knife (as though I were going to cut the apple into sections), which leaves the skin intact, but makes the apple easier to eat when it is ready. Baking time will vary depending on the type of apples that you have and how large they are. Check the apples for doneness by poking them with the tip of a sharp knife. When the apples are tender, they are ready to eat. Serve them as-is, or with vanilla ice cream.