Now is the best time of year for presenting beautiful fruits as dessert. My daughter is still talking about the watermelon “shark” they served at Steady Steps (her day care center) for a snack recently. It is easy to get kids (or adults) excited about eating fruit if it is presented in a fun or beautiful way. These tips and recipes are adapted from Food and Health Communications.
1. Watermelon Cake – No, you don’t have to turn on your oven for this one. Start by simply slicing a large, 3 inch thick, horizontal ring from the center of the melon (it helps to cut it in half first). Remove the rind, and place the ring on a platter. Top with berry compote (see tips/recipe at the end of this article) or fruit marmalade and rings of fresh berries, and you will have a gorgeous dessert that is sure to please a crowd. Use the additional watermelon in some of our other recipes below…
2. Watermelon Cookies – Not in the mood for “cake?” Slice your watermelon into rings that are 1/2 inch thick and cut those rings into shapes with your favorite cookie cutters. Arrange a layer of these “cookies” on a plate and top them with chocolate chips.
3. Summer Fruit Kabobs – Slice pieces of your favorite fruits into chunks and thread them onto bamboo skewers. Place the skewers on a platter and serve them with a side of nonfat yogurt. Our favorite type of yogurt to serve with these skewers is the honey flavor of Greek yogurt.
4. Tutti Fruiti – Dice five to six cups of your favorite fruits and toss with fresh-squeezed lime juice. This one looks especially pretty when served in tall glasses.
5. Peachy Fruit - Another dish that looks fantastic in tall glasses (or even champagne flutes), Peachy Fruit is made of chopped fresh fruit served on top of peach puree and finished with finely shredded mint leaves. If you don’t have your own supply of fresh peaches, don’t worry — peach baby food makes the perfect sauce to go on the bottom!
6. Strawberry Sparklers – Just because the Fourth of July is over doesn’t mean that you can’t still have sparklers! Fill a plate with your favorite fresh berries. Arrange another plate with goodies like ground dried pineapple, ground dried cranberries, ground pistachios, ground almonds, and ground chocolate chips. Begin by melting reduced fat cream cheese into a small dish or ramekin in the microwave and stir until it becomes smooth. Dip the berries in the cream cheese, then roll them in your favorite toppings. Refrigerate until ready to serve. (These sparklers can be served as an appetizer, dessert, or afternoon snack).
7. Berry Mango Tostada – Who says tostadas need to be heavy and savory? This light, sweet dessert is a perfect way to end a meal. Spray a corn tortilla with cooking oil spray and dip it in cinnamon sugar. Arrange the dipped tortillas on a baking sheet and bake at 375 until they’re golden brown. Once tortillas have cooled, place them in the freezer. When ready to serve, place berries and mango sorbet on a plate and top with a cooled tortilla.
Follow these presentation tips for fruit desserts that will be sure to have your guests lining up for a taste.It is all about the china. Don’t be afraid to collect an assortment of dishes. For better portion control, focus on small to medium plates, cups, bowls, and glasses.
Collect mini sauce dishes from kitchen stores – they make great petite dessert dishes. AND you can use a different dish for every guest for a fun way to serve individualized desserts!
Use a variety of footed glasses, both tall and short. Wine glasses, champagne flutes, footed bowls and thin juice glasses work well.
Colorful plates add a serious “wow” factor. Use them as chargers to add more color, too.
White plates draw attention to the colors of the foods you’re presenting. Plus, they’re just plain elegant.
Glass bowls are especially good for layered desserts and various fruit assortments.
Try to garnish desserts using items that can be eaten and that add to the dish in some way. Mint, fruit zest, powdered sugar, and whipped cream each bring their own tricks to the table.
When chopping mint, shred it very fine. That way, it can add a nice, fresh flavor that compliments the fruit it is accompanying. Plus, your guests might think whole mint pieces are too pretty to eat, and no one wants that.
Try citrus zest! Orange, lemon, and lime zest all add fantastic flavors and colors to a dish. There are a few ways to zest these fruits, so pick what works best for you and your dessert. Either grate the fruit’s thin outer layer with a grater or microplane zester, or peel the fruit and slice the peels into long, thin strips.
Sprinkle a tiny layer of powdered sugar over your finished desserts. That delicate touch of sweetness may be what moves the dish from good to great. Just don’t get too heavy-handed or the sugar might dominate the dish, which would not work out well for anyone. Cocoa powder is a great accent as well, and the two contrast very nicely.
Consider adding a dollop of whipped cream or nonfat yogurt for a simple and quick garnish. A single tablespoon of whipped cream has just 20 calories and is an especially great accompaniment for warm desserts.
Use baby food as a colorful fruit sauce. No really — baby food! It’s one of the best-kept secrets of delicious fruit toppings. The sauce is not too sweet, very colorful, and super smooth. What’s not to love? For best results, look for baby foods that come in pourable foil packets.
Do you have fruit that is past its prime? Cook it into a compote and use it to top pancakes, ice cream, or even a bowl of fresh fruit. Never made compote before? Don’t worry — it’s easy. Cut the fruit into bite-sized pieces, then toss it in a pot with a little water, a pinch of sugar, and a dash or two of spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce to a simmer for about 10 minutes, then serve warm or refrigerate for another use. (You can also use the microwave, or even the
Color is important. Don’t be afraid to experiment with various combinations of colorful fruits. For example, blueberries look great with peaches; kiwi complements watermelon perfectly, etc.