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Fresh Takes On Classic Fruit Desserts Now
Why wait until summer to enjoy the sweet and comforting flavors of fresh fruit desserts? Right now, it's warm and sunny in Chile, where Chilean farmers are harvesting premium-quality peaches, nectarines, apples, pears, grapes and other fruit, and shipping them our way. With all those juicy, delicious Chilean fruits in the market and a few time-saving recipes in hand, you can create classic desserts anytime you like.
Comforting desserts -- warm with the aroma of sweet, tender fruit -- are ideal in the winter. Try, for example, Peaches Foster Shortcake, which takes its inspiration from the familiar New Orleans specialty made with bananas. In this new take on the classic, fresh blueberries mingle with rum-spiked peaches, all served over warm biscuits.
Baked Apple-Pear Crumble combines favorite winter flavors in one warm and easy dish. Topping a baked apple-pear combo is the crunch of brown sugar and walnuts. And if you adore apples and pears, also try Double Cranberry Poached Pears and Apples. This colorful dessert looks so elegant, no one would guess that it's so simple to make!
For a true taste of summer in the depths of winter, make a luscious Blueberry-Nectarine Cobbler. Chilean berries and tree fruit are excellent this time of year, and a cobbler featuring blueberries and nectarines is a very sweet way to enjoy them.
Not only are fresh fruit desserts extra delicious in the winter, they also offer a way to enjoy a serving of vitamin- and fiber-packed fresh fruit. There was a time, not so long ago, that fresh fruit was much less available through the winter, which may be a reason Americans eat less than half the amount of fruit recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's MyPyramid guidelines.
Today, with Chilean fruit readily available, we can indulge our desire for fresh fruit all winter and into the spring. Chile has ideal conditions for growing our favorite fruits from November through May. Most of Chile's abundant orchards are found in the country's lush fertile valleys. Once harvested, the fruit must pass on-site USDA inspection before being packed and shipped to North American markets.
A Half Dozen Fruitful Finales
No need to turn on the oven when you try these easy, healthful dessert ideas:
Make a refreshing fruit salad with cut grapes, nectarines, apples and pears; stir in a mixture of sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon or nutmeg. Let the flavors blend at room temperature during dinner and spoon into stemmed glasses for dessert.
Arrange slices of fresh Chilean fruit on a platter with almonds and a wedge of good cheese-Cheddar, Camembert or Roquefort, for example. Almost effortlessly, you've created a sophisticated fruit and cheese platter.
Adopt a European custom: Just arrange bunches of grapes and whole fruit in a pretty bowl and set it on the dining table, along with dessert plates, knives and forks.
Spread cream cheese on shortbread cookies and top with sliced peaches; drizzle with warm seedless raspberry jam.
The easiest dessert fondue: heat fudge, toffee or caramel ice cream topping to dip grapes and wedges of apples, pears and apricots.
Freeze seedless grapes on a shallow pan; serve in tall glasses topped with a dollop of jam or chocolate sauce.
Fresh Peaches Foster Shortcake
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1-1/2 pounds ripe fresh Chilean peaches, sliced (about 2-1/2 cups)
1/4 cup rum or orange juice
2 teaspoons cornstarch
6 large biscuits*
1 cup fresh Chilean blueberries
In a saucepan, heat brown sugar and butter, stirring constantly, until bubbly. Add peaches and stir gently until peaches just
begin to feel tender, about 5 minutes. In a cup, combine rum and cornstarch; stir mixture into peaches. Cook and stir until
clear and thickened, about 2 minutes. Place 1 biscuit on each of 6 dessert plates. Split biscuits crosswise and spoon half of
the peach mixture over the bottoms. Replace the biscuit tops and spoon the remaining peach filling over them. Garnish with
blueberries and top with a dollop of whipped cream and a mint leaf, if desired
YIELD: 6 portions
*Use prepared refrigerated biscuits, or make you own by mixing 2 cups flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon baking powder,
1/2 teaspoon salt and 1-1/4 cups heavy cream. Knead and divide into 6 balls. On a cookie sheet, pat each to form a 2-1/2 to
3-inch round. Bake in a preheated oven at 400°F until tops are golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes.
Double Cranberry Poached Pears and Apples
1 cup cranberry juice cocktail
3 tablespoons sugar
2 large Chilean pears*, such as bosc or bartlett (about 1 pound), quartered and cored
2 large Chilean apples, such as royal gala or fuji (about 1 pound), peeled, quartered and cored
1/4 cup dried cranberries
In a large skillet over high heat, combine cranberry juice and sugar; bring to a boil. Add pears, apples and dried cranberries; return to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove apples, pears and cranberries to a serving dish. Increase heat to high; cook liquid until reduced to about 1/2 cup and slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Pour over fruit. Serve with ice cream, if desired.
YIELD: 4 portions
*Pears should be aromatic, fairly firm but a bit soft at the wider end.
Baked Apple-Pear Crumble
2 large Chilean apples, such as royal gala or fuji (about 1 pound), peeled, halved and cored
2 large Chilean pears*, such as bosc or bartlett (about 1 pound), halved and cored
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup apple juice or cider
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly coat a 13- by 9-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange apple and pear halves, cored side up, in baking dish. In a bowl, combine flour, brown sugar and salt. Stir in butter then walnuts. Dividing the mixture evenly, press onto centers of the pear and apple halves. Pour apple juice in dish; cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes; remove foil and bake until the fruit is tender and crumbs have browned, 10 to 15 minutes longer; spoon apple juice glaze over fruit. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.
YIELD: 8 portions
* Pears should be aromatic, fairly firm but a bit soft at the wider end.
1-2/3 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar, divided
6 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1-1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup heavy cream, divided
4 cups fresh Chilean blueberries
1-1/2 pounds (6 medium) ripe Chilean nectarines, pitted and cut in eights
In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, 1/4 cup of the sugar, the butter, baking powder and salt. Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside 1 tablespoon of the cream; add the remaining cream to flour mixture; process until dough starts to form a ball, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; gently pat it together. Divide dough into eight 2-inch balls; flatten into rounds; wrap and refrigerate at least 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a shallow 2-1/2 quart baking dish, combine blueberries, nectarines and 3 tablespoons of the sugar. Arrange dough rounds on top. Brush rounds with reserved cream; sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake until the filling bubbles and the topping has browned, about 50 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream, if desired.
While there are many reasons for teaching kids to cook -- less expensive than eating out, preserves family heritage, etc, the most important
reason is that by teaching your child to cook, you're giving him a better chance to be a healthy grown-up. Enabling your child with the ability
to appreciate freshness and to transform ingredients into tasty foods opens their eyes to making wiser choices about what to eat...