Delicious Fruit Dessert Recipes

Turn your fresh fruits into naturally sweetened desserts. Recipes for berry cobbler, fruit crisps, melon mousse and more.

| August/September 1993

  • 139-026-01
    Fresh fruit is delicious eaten whole, but sometimes you just have a craving for a baked dessert.

  • 139-026-01

If you've been growing fruit every summer for as long as you can remember, then you know better than anyone that fruit really is a dessert all by itself. Sweet and juicy-fresh summer fruit can be peeled and sliced or eaten whole with the juice running down your chin. Loaded with vitamins and fiber, seasonal fruit is nature's perfect dessert — a sweet you can sink your teeth into without feeling guilty. Unfortunately, it is true that "we are what we eat," and that we'd prefer not to wear our dessert. Although our minds agree with this, that nagging sweet tooth sometimes isn't satisfied with a plain bowl of sliced fruit. Fortunately, fruit desserts can be low in fat and sugar (fruit is already a natural sweetener), so it is possible to keep that sweet tooth happy.

Baked fruit desserts Fruit crisps and cobblers are easy to prepare on a hot summer day and they're a good way to use up that flat of blueberries before the mold descends. If you find yourself stuck with a few plums, nectarines, and berries, try combining the fruit for an interesting crisp. Too often baked fruit desserts call for large amounts of sugar, which is entirely unnecessary if the seasonal fruit is ripe and sweet. If the ripened fruit is slightly bitter, drizzle a few tablespoons of honey, maple syrup, or fruit juice concentrate over the sliced fruit before adding the topping.

Unfortunately some recipes for baked fruit desserts are high in fat, with pie at the top of the list. Who wants to roll out pie crust on a humid 98 degrees day anyway? Crisps and cobblers are no sweat and don't need to be baked for as much time as pies do. This means the fruit won't be over-baked and mushy. (Frozen fruit should be kept frozen until it's time to bake.) You can slightly reduce the fat (whether it's butter or oil) in your favorite cobbler or crisp recipe without a noticeable difference. Also, try using more fruit for an almost deep-dish cobbler or crisp so that a single serving contains less topping.

Unfortunately, most baked fruit desserts have an undesirable glue-like filling. There's nothing wrong with some of the fruit's juices sitting on your dessert plate. However, if the fruit juice isn't thickened slightly, the cobbler crust will sink, transforming into a dumpling and losing its crispness. I toss the fruit with one to two teaspoons of arrowroot flour (which can be purchased at health-food stores) that thickens the juices without a cornstarch aftertaste. Also, some fruit is too juicy to be used for baking. Instead of using peaches, which become watery and mushy when baked, I use nectarines mixed with berries.

Raw fruit desserts: Once fresh fruit is sliced, it deteriorates quickly. It will start to turn brown and begin to lose some of its vitamins and texture. Slice the fruit just before serving or, if you must, cut it up a little ahead of time and sprinkle or dip the fruit slices into fresh lemon juice. The skin should be left on most fruit because of its high fiber content and the nutrients located just under the skin. Fresh fruit can be eaten in a bowl by itself, sprinkled with a liqueur, or topped with plain yogurt mixed with chopped crystallized ginger (which can be purchased in the Asian-foods section of supermarkets).

Breakfast Berry Cobbler  

This cobbler is cake-like and makes a wonderful Sunday morning coffeecake.


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