Archive for the ‘Crisps and Other Fruit Desserts’ Category
It’s easy to get excited about making fruit desserts when you are looking at a beautiful display of fresh, in-season fruit at your local grocery store or farmers’ market. Peaches have a lovely floral aroma and ripe plums smell as sweet as honey. Fortunately, there is no need to resist the temptation to stock up on fruit because there are all kinds of amazing dishes that you can bake with them. Pies and tarts are just a couple of options, but a classic cobbler is always an easy way to enjoy fruit in a dessert and this Plum and Peach Cobbler is a perfect example.
I used a mixture of fresh peaches and fresh plums in this cobbler. The flavors of the two stone fruits blend together beautifully, for a sweet and richly flavored filling. They also look absolutely beautiful together, with the bright yellow color of the peaches contrasting well with the darker red color in the plums. Most of the color in the plums comes from the skin of the fruit, so I recommend not peeling your plums before you use them. Plum skins are also quite delicate, so they don’t take away from the fruit itself when you’re eating the cobbler. The peaches, on the other hand, should be peeled before you add them to the filling.
When picking out fruit for the cobbler, choose fruits that are ripe but still slightly firm. Firmer plums and peaches will be easier to work with than very soft fruits, and they’ll hold their shape during baking without breaking down. Cut them into approximately equal slices – which means that plums should be quartered, while peaches can be cut into 6-8 slices, depending on the size of the fruit. I used about equal parts of plums and peaches, but you can always slant your cobbler filling towards one or the other, depending on how much fruit you have in your kitchen, or incorporate other fruits like nectarines or apricots.
Strawberry shortcakes may be a summer classic, but you can make a delicious shortcake with any kind of fresh fruit. The dessert will look even better if you opt for a fruit that is just as colorful as fresh strawberries – like fresh blueberries. Juicy, bright blueberries do just as well as strawberries in a shortcake because, when they are at their peak, they don’t need to be cooked or baked into anything to really shine. Giving them the support of a light, buttery biscuit and some whipped cream is more than enough to put the spotlight on them!
These Double Blueberry Shortcakes start with a biscuit-like cake that is made with blueberries, and are filled with fresh blueberries and whipped cream. The berries I used in the biscuit are dried (if you have them, freeze-dried blueberries work very well, too), which add some blueberry flavor and some nice pops of color to the biscuits. Since they don’t add much moisture to the dough, which fresh blueberries would, the biscuit keeps its light and slightly flaky texture, and doesn’t become too cakey or soft. The buttery biscuits are lightly sweetened and also have a hint of vanilla to them.
The filling is simple: a combination of lightly sweetened whipped cream and fresh blueberries. You can’t go wrong – but you can mix things up a bit if you love blueberries and find yourself looking for a little variety. A little bit of lemon zest or extract in the whipped cream will really brighten up this dessert, and a splash of rum in the whipped cream will give this a more grown up feel. Or you could do what I do and just serve them with a big bowl of extra blueberries on the side.
One of my favorite things about summertime is the wide variety of fresh produce available at both my local grocery stores and my local farmers markets. From tomatoes and corn to strawberries and melons, it seems that everything is at their flavor peak when the weather is hot. I find that fruit is absolutely irresistible in the summer and always bring home a few baskets to work with. Fresh fruit really doesn’t need any fancy preparations or sauces to be enjoyed, especially when that fruit is perfectly sweet and ripe.
So, I like to keep things simple with my summer fruits and will usually toss them on the grill after cooking my main course. Grilled fruit is one of the best – and easiest – summer desserts that you can make. Grilling can make sweet fruit even sweeter, as well as adding a slight char that contrasts with the fruits’ sugars. And if you’re anything like me, you already have that grill going all the time in the summer and grilling fruit is just one more way to put it to good use.
Just about any fruit can be grilled, though some fruits will hold up better than others. Berries, for instance, can be grilled quickly, but can soften too quickly in the high heat. Your best choices for grilling are fruits that are firm enough to withstand the heat without becoming mushy. Peaches, plums, nectarines and other stone fruits are my favorite choices, though fruits like pineapple, melon and even pears can be very delicious, too. To grill fruit, you’ll want to turn the heat down to low and then give either the fruit or the grill a light coating of oil to keep the tender fruit from sticking. Once you put the fruit on the heat, you can just leave it alone for a few minutes as it cooks, and remove it when it is perfectly tender.
Grilled fruit can be served on its own, but my favorite way to serve it is with a few scoops of ice cream as a sundae. Cold vanilla ice cream is a wonderful contrast for the fruit when it is still warm from the grill and after serving this up at your next barbecue, you just might find that grilled fruit will become a staple at every one of your summer cookouts.
There are all kinds of desserts out there that can feature fresh berries, from pies to cobblers, and one type that you should add to your repertoire (if you haven’t already done so) is a buckle. A buckle is a fruit-laden cake that gets its name from the fact that there is so much fruit that a cake might seem to “buckle” under the weight of it all. You can make a buckle with almost any kind of fruit, but the cake base is particularly good for soaking up the juices from ripe berries. My kitchen has been overflowing with berries lately, and a bunch of particularly juicy blackberries inspired this Blackberry Buckle.
The butter is cut into the flour mixture before the wet ingredients are added. This step ensures that you will have a very tender cake, but it serves another purpose as some of the flour-sugar-butter mixture is set aside to serve as a crumb topping for the cake. This adds a slightly sweet, crisp topping to the dessert and makes it even more addictive. The batter can easily be made by hand, but using a food processor to mix everything will make the process even faster.
The cake of the buckle has a nice butter and vanilla flavor to it and is an excellent background for the juicy blackberries. I used a whole pound of fruit in this dessert, and you can see from each slice that you get a lot of berries per serving! Fresh fruit is ideal for this dish, but frozen fruit can be substituted if that is what you have on hand. If using frozen, do not defrost the fruit before incorporating it into the batter and keep in mind that your buckle might need an extra few minutes in the oven while baking.
Rhubarb is a wonderful springtime fruit to work with, both because of its beautiful pink color and the bright, tangy flavor that it brings to a recipe. Rhubarb is often paired with sweeter fruits, such as strawberries, to balance out its very sharp flavor. Strawberries are a very common pairing, but raspberries also make a fantastic pairing with rhubarb and I used them in this Rhubarb and Raspberry Cobbler.
This cobbler has a mixture of raspberries and rhubarb in the filling. The filling of the finished cobbler has a lovely sweet-tart flavor and a bright red color from the berries. The rhubarb lends an almost lemony flavor to the filling, while the raspberries seem intensely sweet and jammy by comparison. Cobblers can have a variety of different toppings, and this one has a cake-like topping that seems to sop up some of the juice from the filling. A sprinkling of sugar on top gives it a nice crunch (be sure to use a toothpick when checking this cobbler for doneness), and otherwise it is soft and tender, with a hint of vanilla and ginger in it.
Fresh, in-season rhubarb is the best choice for this recipe. Look for rhubarb that is brightly colored and crisp, with unblemished stalks. While rhubarb can actually come in a variety of colors, from pale green to dark red, the redder stalks give a much prettier look to this dish if you have the option of choosing them. The raspberries can be fresh or frozen, and frozen berries do not need to be defrosted before using. Frozen rhubarb tends to come in very large chunks and takes a long time to cook, which is why it is not my idea choice for this cobbler. IF you do opt for both frozen berries and rhubarb, the baking time of this recipe would be extended by about 5-10 minutes to ensure that the topping cooks all the way through (be sure to check with a toothpick before taking it out of the oven).