Some would say I am blessed. Others would say I am cursed. You decide when I tell you that I don't crave sweets. I can live without them most of the time.
But every once in a while I will go on a binge, eating ice cream or some Twizzlers or something similar. The rest of the time I can walk by them without a problem.
Certainly I am not the average person when it comes to sweets. Most people have a weakness when it comes to sweets of some sort. How could you not enjoy a mocha ice cream pie or strawberry shortcake? Well, to each his own.
What I want to discuss here are some dessert options that are sweet and refreshing.
I suppose you may consider them a change in pace or philosophy. When you look at desserts they tend to be high in fats, sugar and corresponding calories. Here we will look at some ideas that embrace the natural sugars within fruits and complementing them with appropriate accompaniments.
Strawberry shortcake is an example of this. Strawberries in season are extremely sweet. Cut them up (1 cup), heat some orange juice (2 oz.) and simmer the strawberries in the orange juice. The sugars will be enhanced. Taste it, if it isn't sweet enough add 1 teaspoon of sugar, or sugar to taste. Let it cool serve it over angel food cake which is made with egg whites. Top with fat-free vanilla yogurt and a sprig of mint.
Another such example of this is merlot- or chiraz-poached pears served over a maple walnut ice milk or gelato with a drizzle of reduced balsamic vinegar (reduced to a syrup consistancy) and some toasted walnuts.
Poached pears are simple. In a saucepan, combine 1 cup of wine, 1/2 an orange sliced or 2 oz. juice, 2 cloves, 1 cup water, and 1 cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, add peeled and halved pears, submerge and cover, then remove from heat. Remove pears when tender and cool.
Another great dessert that's guaranteed to satisfy your sweet tooth is grilled peach shortcake.
Brush a few peach halves with olive oil or butter, then sprinkle with cinnamon. Grill until tender. Slice peaches and toss a half into a blender with 3 oz. apple or peach juice. In a bowl combine the peaches and blended juice and peaches. Serve over angel food cake with fat-free vanilla yogurt.
The last dessert on today's menu is a Panna Cotta which translates into "cooked cream" in Italian. This is a cream that's flavored and thickened with a gelatin. It is similar to a pudding however it doesn't have eggs so the calories and fat are considerably reduced. For our purposes we will not use cream. We will use milk and you can even use skim milk.
1 cup milk
4 tsp. unflavored gelatin
1 T. pure vanilla extract, or 1/2 vanilla bean, split, scraped and soaked in warming milk
1 T. honey or sugar
3 T. raspberries, blueberries or strawberries (or any fruit you like)
1. Dissolve gelatin in 2 oz. cold milk
2. Heat to a simmer 6 oz. of milk with vanilla and honey
3. Whisk hot milk mixture into milk and gelatin mixture
4. Pour into a mold (a wine glass or martini glass work well)
5. Chill for minimum 6-8 hours
6. Put berries or sliced fruit on top and enjoy!
Executive Chef Michael Davis believes a creative innovation of wholesome foods is the best approach to eating... foods unadulterated by chemicals, layered in flavors with a picturesque presentation. He received his A.A.S. in Culinary Arts at Johnson and Wales University.