The warm breeze, late evening sunsets and children’s laughter as they play outside – these are some of my favorite things about Summertime. Summer inspires me to take extra moments in my day to just soak in my environment – to enjoy simple, easy living and the freedom that comes from not having to plan ahead to bundle up to go outside or scrape snow off the car before driving like in the certain chilly months to come.
When I think of easy, simply delicious summer food, fruit is the first thing that comes to mind: perfectly ripe, seasonal, juicy, lovely fruit. I made this dish last night and it was so delightful, I absolutely could not wait to share it with you!
I fell in love with this dish right from the start for two reasons: it incorporates healthy and local ingredients for a fantastic alternative to sugary desserts and, maybe even more importantly, it indulges my love for the produce section! It’s a little ridiculous how much I enjoy the process of picking out good produce, but in this age of pre-packaged, pre-made everything, using your all of your senses to choose exactly the fruit or vegetable that you want feels so down-to-earth to me.
Plums are one of those stone fruits that I typically accidentally overlook – it’s not flashy, it’s not exotic, but it IS delicious…and it’s sweet, tart flavor and really comes out when it’s slowly baked in the oven. This recipe does call for a little bit of sugar sprinkled on the tops of the plum halves before baking, but the sugar could be left out completely and the dish would taste every bit as good….on the other hand, you could go the other way and caramelize the tops of the plum halves with sugar and a torch/broiler after they bake for a crunchy, sugar coating!
Every summer, I stock up on home-grown, Minnesota honey from the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market – Marquette Honey Farms is my favorite honey vendor. I can’t get enough, so I was excited to pull it out for this dessert!
A dollop of tangy Greek Yogurt and some roasted hazelnuts and you have one simply delightful, flavorful summer dessert!
Here’s the Recipe:
6 dark plums, halved and pitted
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup 2 percent Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons hazelnuts, toasted in the oven at 375°F for 7 minutes, chopped
2 teaspoons honey
Heat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place plums cut side up on sheet, brush with butter and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until soft and some juices run off, about 15 minutes. Divide among 4 bowls, top each with 2 tablespoons yogurt, sprinkle with nuts and drizzle with honey.
Is there anything more joy-producing than the taste of a perfectly ripe, perfectly delicious strawberry?! It’s like Mother Nature’s promise to your tastebuds that summer is almost here. Although in the buff is my favorite way of enjoying home-grown strawberries (the strawberries in the buff – not me…although….), I bought so many at the Farmer’s Market yesterday morning that I had to try out a recipe that I had seen on one of my very favorite food blogs. The ingredients this recipe calls for are ones I had already, which was great for outbursts of spontaneous cooking! I made some little adjustments to a couple of the directions to make up for some possible probable mistakes on my part, so I’ll let you know what I did, just in case you are directions-challenged, like me.
Here’s the Recipe:
1 cup pureed strawberries (I pulsed 8-10 thawed frozen whole strawberries in the food processor)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3 cup white chocolate chips
Several drops of pink gel food coloring
Place strawberry puree, sugar, and butter in a small nonstick pan over medium low heat and simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until reduced to 1/2 cup. Mix reduced liquid with flour and salt in a small bowl. Chill truffle filling for 1 hour in the fridge or until cold.
Carefully roll chilled strawberry filling into 12 round truffles and place on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes or until cold.
Melt semisweet chocolate chips in a shallow bowl on High 1 minute, stirring after 30 seconds; stir until chips are melted and mixture is smooth, microwaving an additional 10 seconds as needed. Mix in 1 tablespoon oil. Using 2 forks, dip strawberry centers into melted chocolate and cover evenly. Place on waxed paper and smooth tops with the back of a spoon, if needed. Cool in the fridge until chocolate is set, about an hour.
Melt white chocolate chips in a shallow bowl on High 1 minute, stirring after 30 seconds; stir until chips are melted and mixture is smooth Mix in remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil and pink gel food coloring and place chocolate in a pastry bag with a number 4 tip. Drizzle chocolate over truffles. Makes 12 truffles.
Nutrition: 106 calories, 4.1g fat, 0.8g fiber, 0.9g protein per truffle
Cost: $0.34 per truffle
The recipe calls for ten to twelve strawberries, but if you are using locally grown berries, you’ll probably have to set aside about eighteen to twenty to make one cup of puree, since the home-grown variety are usually quite a bit smaller than the kind you’ll find in a grocery store plastic clamshell container. (They taste so much better, too!)
I think that my first mistake was not reducing the strawberry puree enough – the recipe instructs a 15-20 minute simmer over low to medium heat, but mine did not reduce enough in that time period. I cranked up the heat to a higher medium, but I think I would have produced a thicker reduction if I had left it on the heat for at least 30 minutes. As it was, my puree did not set as firmly as it should have….it was still beautiful and delicious, though! (You’ll see the result of a runnier puree here in a minute.)
There are two things I changed about the chocolate ganache: 1. The recipe calls for semi-sweet, but I enjoy a richer cocoa taste to balance out the sweetness of the filling and chose to use a 60% bittersweet, and 2. Instead of the oil, I used unsalted butter. I actually had two goes at melting the chocolate because I messed the first batch up pretty badly…I melted the chocolate with the cold tablespoon of butter and the chocolate immediately seized up as it melted. Oh, well – lesson learned! Redo: I melted the chocolate first and then added a tablespoon of melted butter and it worked beautifully (and tasted better in the chocolate than oil).
Because my puree didn’t set as firmly as it should have, this is what my first three, chilled truffles did after dipping them in hot, melty chocolate (not pretty!):
So I let the chocolate cool a little and put the truffle insides into the freezer for a bit and then they worked beautifully!
I’m definitely going to have to remember this recipe for a made-with-love Valentine’s or Hostess Gift in the future – thanks, Kerstin from Cake, Batter and Bowl!
Not the perfect morning to be outdoors as it was sprinkling and threatening a thunderstorm at any moment, but the produce and – let’s be honest – mini-dougnuts at the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market are completely worth it! I didn’t spend a lot of time perusing the vendors today, but just made a bee line for the stuff I knew I wanted…and was not disappointed!
I picked up some lovely vegetables and some home-grown strawberries.
And I couldn’t pass up one of my favorite (inedible) Farmer’s Market purchases – beautiful flowers that are as inexpensive as they are lovely!
If I can keep myself from eating most of the strawberries right out of the container, maybe I will have some delicious plans for them….what a struggle!