Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Baked Winter Fruit

I've been on a baked fruit kick lately after rediscovering a recipe I'd clipped a while back.  (Remember that actually using all the recipes that I clip project that I started at the beginning of this year? It's still going....sort of.)

A couple weeks ago I was looking for a dessert to bring to some friends who were having me over for dinner.  I was keen to find something light, since I feel like the bounty of the season is already catching up with me (specifically my hips).  I decided upon a simple recipe for baked winter fruit from the Boston Globe.  It's just a simple combination of apples, pears (you don't even need to peel them!), prunes, raisins, and dried cranberries, with a touch of orange juice, cinnamon, and brown sugar.  You can also add slivered almonds or walnut pieces, if you wish.  Mix, cover, and bake--that's all there is to it!  

The whole was so much greater than the sum of its parts.  The dried fruits plumped up beautifully, the pears and apples became wonderfully tender, perfumed with a lovely hint of cinnamon and orange.  It completely sated my sweet tooth without feeling too decadent.  A small dollop of yogurt on top would also be nice, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream would make it an even more delicious (if slightly less virtuous) dessert.  It would also be fantastic stirred into oatmeal, or over some Greek yogurt for a delicious wintery breakfast.  It keeps in the fridge beautifully; with so many ways to enjoy it, it might even be worth making a double batch!

I keep snarfing it up so quickly that photos haven't happened yet, but I'm sure I'll make it again soon, so those will come soon.  But don't wait for pictures--it's just too good to delay!

Baked Winter Fruit (Adapted from The Boston Globe, March 2, 2011)
Makes 4 Servings

This recipe is wonderfully adaptable.  You can have 2 pears and 1 apple, replace the raisins with more dried cranberries, or vice-versa.  This is also a perfect way to use up fruit that is starting to develop brown spots--no one will be any the wiser when you pull it from the oven.   It is also so easy to double--just bake it in a lasagna dish instead.

* 1 ripe pear, quartered, core and seeds removed, and cut into 2-inch pieces (I think Comice pears are the most delicious, but anything will do)
* 2 apples, quartered, core and seeds removed, and cut into 2-inch pieces  (Cortland and Golden Delicious are my faves for baking, but anything will do)
* ¼ cup golden raisins (brown raisins are fine, too)
* ¼ cup dried cranberries
* 8 pitted prunes
* ½ cup walnuts or slivered almonds (optional)
* 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
* ½ teaspoon cinnamon
* ½ cup of orange juice, either fresh squeezed or bottled is fine

1. Preheat your oven to 350˚F.  Have an 8 x 8-inch baking dish handy, and some aluminum foil

2. In a large bowl, toss all the fresh and dried fruits, nuts (if using), and the orange juice together.  Transfer the mixture to the baking dish, and push the prunes down to the bottom, particularly if they're on the drier side, like mine were.  Sprinkle with the cinnamon and brown sugar over the fruit, and cover the pan with aluminum foil.

3. Bake the fruit for 25 minutes (or slightly longer--30 minutes or so--if you've doubled the recipe).  Remove the foil and bake the fruit for an additional 5 minutes, or until the fruits are quite tender when pierced with a small sharp knife.  

4. Serve the fruit hot, warm, or at room temperature.  

Enjoy, guilt free!

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