Naturally healthful fruit preparations can satisfy customer cravings for sweets without the fat and calories of traditionally heavy dessert treats.
Capitalize on the seasonality of fruit and flaunt its gem-like beauty and healthful nutritional profile by featuring it in a number of simply enticing dessert presentations.
Whether surrounded by a delicate and precisely shaped crust or a rustic free-formed dough, glistening fruit tarts (glazed with preserves but made without other fillings) are exceptionally eye pleasing, low in fat and calories, and satisfying, too. And the naturally sweet taste of fresh ripe or canned (unsweetened) fruits needs little, if any, additional sugar to satisfy most sweet tooths.
For added glamour at a catered event, fill meringue shells with exotic fruit wedges–papaya, mango, guava, tamarillo and passion fruit–either fresh or cooked (poached, roasted, sautéed), float on a pool of fruit puree and garnish with fresh mint sprigs.
Topping fruits with oats, wheat germ, nuts and dough adds even more body and nutrients to healthful fruit desserts. Crisps or crumbles are defined as deep dish fruit pies with streusel crumb topping, cobblers (also called grunts, slumps or spoon pies) are defined as deep dish pies with a biscuit dough topping, and a brown betty is a baked pudding made with layers of sugared and spiced fruit and buttered crumbs.
In any case, these appealing homespun fruit desserts lend themselves to enticing menu descriptors. Consider the flavors and images conjured up by phrases such as Mixed Winter Fruit Crumble, Sweet and Tangy Apple and Cranberry Brown Betty, Deep Dish Caramelized Pear Cobbler or Red Ripe Rhubarb and Strawberry Crisp.
Add interest to cool fruit treats by offering individual composed fruit plates drizzled with pureed fruit sauces, fresh fruit elegantly presented in chocolate bowls (customers can then choose to indulge in the chocolate or not), cold mixed compotes, or ices and cold soup, for a change of fruit bowl pace.
Prepare enticingly healthful fruit desserts using these simple cooking methods.
Poach. Gently simmer fruit in a hot, sweet flavorful liquid. For the poaching liquid, use wine, fruit juice and liqueurs flavored with herbs and spices and (optionally) sweetened with sugar, honey, brown sugar or maple syrup. Apples, apricots, pears and peaches work particularly well.
Grill. Heat on an open-flamed grill to caramelize the natural sugar. Use fresh fruit– pineapple, banana, strawberries, and nectarines–plain or marinated.
Roast. Bake (uncovered) and baste with 100% fruit juice (unsweetened) for a simple presentation of mixed fruits. Serve with frozen low-fat yogurt. Try apples, apricots, pears and pineapple. Or compose a beautiful tart of fresh, frozen or canned (drained) fruits or berries surrounded by a light, flaky crust and baked until bubbly. Simply garnish with a sprinkle of confectioner’s sugar.
Sauté. Add just a bit of sugar and spice to fruit and sauté until soft. Try apples, apricots, pears, cherries and berries. Serve with yogurt.
Purée. Process fresh fruit and strain out solids for soups and dessert sauces. Melons, berries and mango work exceptionally well.
Garnish. Use fruits’ natural sparkle to garnish other fruit and low-fat desserts. Consider ruby red pomegranate seeds, tiny deep-purple champagne grapes, lime green mini kiwi and bright yellow carambola (star fruit).
CHILLED FRESH BLUEBERRY SOUP
Yield: 8 servings (about 8 cups)
4 qts. fresh or frozen blueberries
1 cup apple juice
3Ú4 cup honey (or more to taste)
1Ú2 cup lemon juice
1 Tbsp. grated lemon peel (yellow part only)
2 tsps. ground cardamom
1 cup low fat vanilla yogurt
1. In a blender or food processor, combine blueberries, apple juice, honey, lemon juice, lemon peel and cardamom; strain through a fine sieve.
2. Chill mixture. Serve soup in chilled large wine glasses or bowls, with a swirl or dollop of yogurt, and cardamom sugar cookies, if desired.
Submitted to FM by Chef Lou Piuggi, United Nations Delegates Dining Room, (Restaurant Associates)
Calories 306 (5% from fat); Fat 1.5g; Protein 3.7g; Carbohydrates 77g; Chol. 1.5mg (cholesterol per day 00%); Sodium 40mg (sodium per day 0%); Fiber 8.1g (fiber per day 0%)