Category Archives: Fruit

Baked Damson Plums with Yogurt

baked_plumspSo simple and soooo good! I wish I could say this more often about the dishes I love… I made this improvised sweet treat last weekend after bringing a big bag of my favourite plums and was really surprised to discover how excellent such an easy and quick dessert turned out. The same recipe can be made with any stone fruit, but for me the oval violet damsons are by far the best choice: the tart skin gives them quite a complex taste, especially when combined with very ripe sweet flesh and makes them perfect for baking. Seasoned with cinnamon, baked with a bit of brown sugar and served warm with chilled creamy yogurt, these roasted plums make a fantastic dessert I can sincerely recommend even to those who constantly watch their waistline.

In case you look for different ways to cook damsons or other plums:

Feather-Light Filo Tart with Plums

Feather-Light Filo Tart with Plums

Light Almond Cream with Plums

Light Almond Cream with Plums

Plum, Prune and Chocolate Jam

Plum, Prune and Chocolate Jam

Damson Jam and Chocolate Tart

Damson Jam and Chocolate Tart

Damson Plum Butter (without sugar)

Damson Plum Butter (without sugar)

TIPS: The contrast between chilled yogurt and warm fruits is very important here, so you can cut up the fruits and divide into individual portions well ahead and then put it into the oven when you serve the main course, for example. If you really have to bake this dessert in advance, reheat it just before serving. I tried it and of course the taste is slightly worse, but better than served cold.

I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m sure you can prepare it also with frozen fruits (I’ll certainly test it with frozen sour cherries because this is the only way I can get them here).

Preparation: about 40 minutes

Ingredients (serves two):

12 big damson plums (or the equivalent of any stone fruit you like)

2 heaped teaspoons brown sugar (or more, depending on the plum’s sweetness and on your preferences)

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

thick yogurt or sour cream or quark/fromage blanc to serve 

Preheat the oven to 190°C.

Remove the stones from the fruits and cut each half into quarters (if you use smaller fruits, such as mirabelles or cherries, simply remove the stones and don’t cut them).

Put the plum pieces into individual baking dishes, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and bake for about 30-40 minutes.

Serve hot or warm with very cold yogurt, quark or sour cream.

Light Yogurt Mousse with Passion Fruit

yog_mousse_passionSpring has been particularly cold this year and strawberries (I mean the edible ones) are late, so I keep on buying other fruits. A week ago I was thrilled to find exceptionally aromatic and sweet organic passion fruits and then wondered what dessert I could include them in… Finally, I thought the cleaner the flavours, the better. I’m glad I steered away from chocolate and strong tasting ingredients this time because this simple yogurt mousse proved perfect enhancer of the intense flavours of passion fruit. While shopping the following Friday I even didn’t look cravingly at strawberries and headed straight to passion fruits’ corner.

TIPS: I often make several individual portions of my light yogurt mousse-based desserts (see some of them here) and they keep perfectly several days in the fridge. This one is no exception (of course passion fruit should be added just before you eat).

Whatever the form of gelatin, it’s always indicated how much you need in order to set a certain amount of liquid. I don’t want to obtain here a stiff jelly-like texture, but something similar to a mousse, so I always check the advised amount and use only about 3/4 of it.

For the first time I used here only full-fat natural yogurt, but the following time I wanted it richer/creamier, so I reduced the amount of yogurt (see below) and added a bit of cream (mine was half-fat). It was just heavenly and still remained a light dessert.

Instead of normal full fat yogurt you can use here Greek yogurt or very smooth (mixed) fresh cheese/curd cheese/quark/, also called fromage frais/serek homogenizowany)

Ripe passion fruits have wrinkled skin (I learnt it very recently!), but if you buy smooth ones, you can put them at room temperature and wait until they ripen. Afterwards keep them in the fridge.

Preparation: 5 minutes+at least 2 hours in the fridge

Ingredients (serves 4-5): 

500 ml  (about 17 fl oz) unsweetened full-fat yogurt (or see the TIPS above) or, if you want this dessert richer and creamier: 450 ml yogurt+50 ml cream

3/4 of the amount of gelatin necessary to set 500ml/17fl oz of liquid (usually 1 tablespoon gelatin or 6 – 8 sheets, depending on the size/brand, so check well the package and reduce the amount to about 3/4, see the TIPS above)+4 tablespoons warm water (I prefer to use hot water with powdered gelatin)

4 flat tablespoons confectioner’s sugar or sweetener of your choice

4-5 passion fruits (or more, depends on the size; I count 1 big per person or 1 and half of smaller ones)

Dissolve the gelatin in 4 tablespoons warm or hot (not boiling) water. (If using leaves, proceed as indicated on the package). (I’ve recently stumbled upon instant gelatin powder which can be added directly to any creamy mixture or liquid without previous dissolving, so check well the procedure on the package.)

Mix the yogurt (or fresh cheese) and the sweetener/sugar in a food processor.

Add the dissolved gelatin and mix well.

Pour the yogurt mixture into individual bowls or glasses and put into the fridge for at least two hours.

Just before serving, cut the passion fruits in two and scoop out the flesh on top of each mousse.

Unsweetened Strawberry and Blueberry Mousse

lightmousse2_Setting a mixture of yogurt and fruits with a reduced amount of gelatin was a breakthrough in the sweet part of my cooking. Such a tiny change allowed me to obtain a mousse instead of a hard jelly; I went so crazy about this easy dessert, it has replaced the majority of my rich, high-calorie homemade sweets. I’ve been making its different versions for years (see below) and like it also as an afternoon snack or even a refreshing summer breakfast. Made with a tiny amount of yogurt and no trace of any sweetener, this mousse is particularly fruity and lighter than ever. If both strawberries and blueberries are very ripe, why would one need sugar, syrup or honey? For me it was definitely sweet enough. (If you have guests who like very sweet desserts, you can of course put honey or confectioner’s sugar on the table.)

Here are some other versions of this light summer dessert:

Yogurt Strawberry Mousse with Strawberry Coulis

Yogurt Strawberry Mousse with Strawberry Coulis

Yogurt Strawberry Mousse with Chocolate Ganache

Yogurt Strawberry Mousse with Chocolate Ganache

Light Blueberry Mousse

Light Blueberry Mousse

Yogurt Mousse with Sour Cherries

Yogurt Mousse with Sour Cherries

TIPS: The amounts of gelatin depend sometimes on the brand. Leaves are sometimes bigger, sometimes smaller,  powdered gelatin sometimes contains other products and doesn’t set as well as pure gelatin in powder… In short, I won’t give you the exact amounts and will only say that the aim here is to use here the amount of gelatin which sets 500 ml/2 cups/about 17 oz liquid. (The whole mousse mixture has more than 500 ml, so the mousse will be firm but not hard).

If you use Greek yogurt, the taste will be sweeter because it’s the least tangy natural yogurt, but I liked it with normal yogurt too.

If you use another gelling agent (such as agar) make sure you don’t put too much. Otherwise you will obtain a hard jelly and not a mousse.

Preparation: about 15 minutes + min. 2-3 hours in the fridge

Ingredients (serves 4-6):

150 g (about 5,3 oz) very ripe blueberries

600 g (about 21 oz) very ripe sweet strawberries

125 g (about 4,4 oz) yogurt or quark or Greek yogurt (Greek yogurt is the least tangy, so the taste will be sweeter)

the amount of gelatin required to set 500 ml liquid

Wash the strawberries and mix about 90% of them together with the yogurt. You shouldn’t obtain more than 600 ml, so keep on adding more strawberries and mixing until you reach it (it will depend on the juiciness of the fruits).

Dissolve the gelatin according to the package instructions.

Mix well in a blender with the strawberry mixture.

Pour the mousse into serving dishes.

Place equal amounts of blueberries into each dish, reserving 1 flat tablespoon per person to put on top just before serving.

Put the mousse into the fridge for 2 -3 hours.

Serve very cold.

Feather-Light Filo Tart with Plums

filoplumThis shapeless piece of tart might look quite ordinary, but it’s one of the best baked sweet treats I have made in years. Wondering what dessert might bring out the best in my beloved violet oval plums (the ones that become prunes), I substituted filo sheets for the usual tart crust, the solution I have been seeing quite often on internet. This change did all I had hoped for and even much more: the thin flaky layers of Greek pastry didn’t take attention away from the plums, didn’t bring useless heaviness, carbs, calories… but encased them with a crisp delicate “frame”. This lightest tart in my cooking experience was an unforgettable discovery that will certainly lead to further filo experiments with sweet dishes.

TIPS: Most cakes (made by family or friends or bought in pastry shops) are much too sweet for me, so whenever I bake, I cut down the sugar’s amount by half in most recipes. If you consider most cakes you are served or buy normally sweet, then you should double (at least) the sugar amount sprinkled on fruits.

This tart serves four to six people, but since it is a particularly light and thin, I’d recommend dividing it into six only if you serve it after a very rich meal.

Given the big amount of fruits and the thinness of filo sheets, this tart will be soft underneath, only sides will be crisp.

UPDATE: I made this tart a couple of days ago once again with plums from a different source. Given the results I don’t recommend preparing it with very watery and acid plums. Plums should be slightly “meaty”, sweet and firm. Otherwise, the tart becomes too mushy and much too acid. I recommend organic plums because these have given me extraordinary results.

Preparation: about one hour

Ingredients (serves four, max. six; fills a 22 x 14 cm/about 8,5 x 5,5 in dish):

3 sheets of filo pastry

4 tablespoons cane sugar

3 tablespoons melted butter

about 500 g stoned and halved oval violet plums

(1 tablespoon almond slivers)

Preheat the oven at 180°C.

Grease a baking dish with butter.

Spread a sheet of filo pastry, sprinkle half of it with 1/2 teaspoon sugar. Fold onto the sweetened part.

Butter the top of the sheet, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon sugar and cover with another sheet, prepared the same way.

Repeat with the third sheet the same way.

Place the three folded sheets into a baking dish.

Cut them to adjust to the dish’s shape (it should fit the dish’s bottom size + about 2 cm on all sides).

Brush the top layer of the filo pastry with butter and sprinkle some sugar again.

Place the halves of plums very tightly, overlaying each other on top of the tart.

Sprinkle with the rest of sugar and with almond slivers, if using.

Fold the edges inside, so that you obtain rounded edges (this is only for aesthetic reasons). Brush them with butter.

Bake until the edges are golden brown (after 30 minutes, check every ten minutes, so that it doesn’t burn).

Light Almond Cream with Plums

almondcreampIf your only idea of a perfect sweet treat is a thick slice of a rich, frosted cake, then you might not appreciate this post. If, however, like me, you avoid (or at least you try…) doubling the meal’s calorie intake in its last course or/and if you are thrilled at the idea of guiltless, but luscious refreshing desserts, this almond cream is definitely worth your attention.

Some of you might remember my custardy creams/custards set with agar, a gelling agent made from seaweed. Agar, or agar-agar (“kanten” in Japanese) is usually sold in a form of powder or in long sticks, but I always use the powdered form which seems easier to handle. Agar contains water soluble agents, which help digestion and are considered excellent in slimming diets. As I have mentioned in my previous posts, contrary to most agar users, I am not fond of thick standard jellies, so I simply use less agar. Thus, it barely sets liquids, resulting in something similar to a custard or a cream.

Until now most of my agar experiments featured coconut milk mixed with cow milk as the basic ingredient (see below). This one follows exactly the same method, but I use here almond milk instead and am more than satisfied with the results. I will soon test almond milk with other fruits, but at least I know that together with plums it creates a fantastic cooling dessert or snack. I am planning also to test almond cream since I’m sure it can be substituted with a similar albeit slightly richer result.

If you are not fond of almond milk, you might like some of these:

Coconut and Strawberry Wobbly Cream with Agar

Coconut and Strawberry Wobbly Cream with Agar

Wobbly Cream with Pear and Lime Zest

Wobbly Cream with Pear and Lime Zest

Coffee and Coconut Wobbly Cream with Agar

Coffee and Coconut Wobbly Cream with Agar

Matcha and Coconut Wobbly Cream

Matcha and Coconut Wobbly Cream

Wobbly Rhubarb Delight

Wobbly Rhubarb Delight

Chocolate and Coconut Cream with Agar

Chocolate and Coconut Cream with Agar

Light Coconut Cream with Canned Peaches

Light Coconut Cream with Canned Peaches

TIPS: I find agar even easier to use than gelatin (though it is not a gelatin replacement since it sets liquids in a slightly different way and cannot be used in every recipe). I use powdered pure agar and it is very easy to dissolve in liquids. There are however different agar powders on the market (some contain sugar for example or other additives), so check the ingredients list and look closely at your agar package instructions. On mine 1/2 teaspoon is supposed to set 500 ml/2 cups liquid to a jelly. I use only 1/3 teaspoon and obtain a wobbly, “falling off the spoon”, custardy consistency. If you prefer a well-set jelly, use the amount advised on the package, but make sure you don’t use too much agar (it’s easy to overdose!) because you might end up not only with a standard jelly, but with something practically inedible.

Do not wait until the cream becomes cold before pouring it into the bowls because agar sets at room temperature and, once disturbed, it will not reset properly! On the other hand do not pour the very hot cream because it will “boil” the fruit. Leave the mixture until it is still a bit hot, but not room temperature.

These creams will keep in the fridge for several days, so you can make a whole batch only for yourself!

You can make these creams for example in small jars with lids and take with you to work, on a trip or for a picnic.

Preparation: 15 minutes + 2-3 hours in the fridge

Ingredients (serves 4 – 5):

500 ml/about 2 cups almond milk

4 flat tablespoons sugar (or more if you prefer very sweet desserts or if the plums are very tangy)

1/3 flat teaspoon pore agar agar in powder (if your agar powder contains other ingredients too, check the TIPS above)

about 1/2 kg (about 1 lb) plums cut into bite-sized pieces + some more for decoration

(toasted almond slivers)

Dissolve the sugar and agar-agar in the almond milk.

Bring to boil and, constantly stirring, let it simmer for about a minute.

Put aside.

Prepare four individual bowls or low glasses.

(Do not wait until the cream becomes cold because agar sets at room temperature and once disturbed, it will not reset properly!).

Distribute the plum pieces evenly among the bowls.

Pour the slightly hot (not room temperature yet!) almond milk over the fruit pieces and refrigerate for at least two hours.

Serve very cold decorated with fresh plums and, if you want, toasted almond slivers.