Food & Drink

Just desserts: Grilled fruit a delicious way to end a meal

You can smoke a brisket, grill up the best barbecue chicken of your life, flip burgers with ease — but if you grill a dessert, that’s what everyone will remember.

Grilled desserts are delicious and an unexpected way to end a meal. Summer fruits are naturally sweet and the perfect choice for grilling. The heat brings out even more of their sugary flavor.

Here are a few tips before you start grilling up your dessert.

Clean the grill

If you just finished cooking a pile of burgers, you don’t want to be tossing fresh fruit on the greasy grill grate. You need to make sure that your grill is clean, re-oiled and on medium heat before you start dessert. Grilling at the end of a meal ensures that the temperature of the coals will be perfect.

Keep an eye on them

The key to grilling fruits is to watch them constantly. They can go from perfectly grilled to charred in a matter of seconds. Fruits contain sugar and can burn quickly when placed on the grill —even at low temperatures. Peaches and apples can take the heat a little longer than other fruits before they start to burn.

Most ripe fruits will take only a couple minutes on each side. During grilling, the heat will caramelize the sugars, make gorgeous grill marks and create delicious complex flavors. Contrast is everything with this dessert. Hot off the grill, the fruit is warm and almost crisp on the outside, yet still cool and juicy on the inside.

Which fruits?

Almost any fruit can be cooked on the grill. Choose fruits that are sweet and tart, such as peaches, mangoes, nectarines, apples, plums, pineapples and pears.

When picking a fruit for the grill, select fresh, firm fruit that is just short of being perfectly ripe. You will want a fruit that is solid enough to hold together and maintain its texture. Hard fruits like apples, pears and pineapples hold their shape and texture while cooking.

Take care when grilling softer fruits like peaches, nectarines, plums and mangos as they have a tendency to become soft and mushy if overcooked. You will need to be more attentive to these kinds of fruits.

Prep work

To prepare most fruits for grilling, simply cut them in half; split bananas lengthwise (leave the peels on to hold them together) and cut apples, pears and similar fruits down the middle, then core and remove the seeds. You can leave the peel or skin on, which holds them together, but that doesn’t mean you have to eat it. Cut large fruits and citrus into slices to expose the flesh to the flame.

Once you have cut the fruit, you have the option to soak it in water to help maximize the amount of liquid inside the fruit (keeps the fruit from drying out) or proceed straight to the grill. Should you decide to soak it, use enough cold water to completely cover the fruit and add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice to each cup of water to preserve the fruits’ color. Let it soak in the lemon water for 20 to 30 minutes. Add ice to keep the water cold.

If you want to step up the flavor, try adding spices to the soaking water and increase the soaking time. Simply throwing a stick of cinnamon into a bowl of soaking apples will enhance the flavor.

When soaking fruit in any type of alcohol (pineapple in rum, bananas in tequila, peaches in wine, etc.) take care and beware because when you place it on the grill it can cause an immediate flare up.

Season it

To keep the fruit from sticking to the grill, oil the grill grate and lightly spray the fruit with cooking oil or brush them with melted butter. Many oils, like olive oil, have too strong of a flavor for fruit, so pick something that will compliment but not overpower it. You can also add spices like nutmeg, allspice, cloves or ginger to the melted butter before brushing it on or add a sprinkling of brown sugar to the top of the fruit as it grills, but be careful because sugars burn quickly and easily.

Keep it simple. Pick grilled fruit/dessert recipes that grill up quick, are easy to prepare and can be served in a flash while they are still hot, sweet and juicy.

Lastly, be organized and have your fruit or dessert prepped and ready for the grill since it doesn’t take long to cook.

GRILLED PEARS WITH CURRANTS

1/3 cup dried currants

1/4 cup apple juice

Pinch of freshly ground pepper

6 firm but ripe Anjou pears

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Vegetable oil for brushing on grill

Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a gas or electric grill on high.

In a small bowl, combine the currants, apple juice and pepper. Allow the currants to marinate until ready to serve.

Peel the pears and cut them in half lengthwise. Use a paring knife or melon baller to remove the core, leaving a gumballsized-hole. Place in a shallow dish and brush all over with the melted butter.

When ready to grill, brush the grill grate with vegetable oil. Place the pears, cut side up, in a single layer directly over the hot fire. Cook just until grill marks appear, about 3 minutes. Brush with any butter remaining in the dish, then turn and grill until tender but firm, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Serve warm with a little of the apple juice-soaked currants spooned over the top. Can serve on top of vanilla ice cream.

Yield: Serves 6

Source: USA Pears

BANANA BOATS

4 sheets (12-by-18 inches each) heavy-duty aluminum foil

4 firm, ripe bananas, peeled and sliced in half lengthwise

1/4 cup brown sugar

4 teaspoons margarine or butter

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Milk chocolate morsels, mini marshmallows, nuts, whipped topping and cherries

Preheat grill to medium-high. Center one banana on each sheet of foil. Top with brown sugar and margarine. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Top with chocolate morsels, marshmallows and nuts, if desired. Bring up foil sides. Double-fold top and ends to seal packet, leaving room for heat circulation inside. Repeat to make four packets. Grill 4 to 6 minutes in covered grill. Serve with whipped topping and cherries. Makes 4 servings. Source: Reynolds Kitchens

GRILLED PINEAPPLE AND POPPYSEED SALAD

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons sugar

1 medium pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into 8 slices

1/4 cup Kraft Creamy Poppyseed Dressing

Preheat the grill to medium-hot heat. Brush the grill grate with oil.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan on low heat. Add the sugar; stir until well blended. Brush the butter mixture evenly onto the pineapple, then place on the grill.

Cook 12 minutes or until the pineapple is golden brown on both sides, turning frequently.

Top each pineapple slice with a drizzle of dressing.

Source: Kraft Foods

GRILLED ANGEL FOOD CAKE WITH STRAWBERRIES IN BALSAMIC VINEGAR

1-1/2 pounds strawberries (hulled and each cut in half, or into quarters if large)

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar 1 (9-ounce) store bought angel food cake

Whipped cream – optional

In a medium bowl, toss strawberries with balsamic vinegar and sugar. Let stand at room temperature until the sugar dissolves, at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, prepare the grill for direct grilling on medium.

Cut the angel food cake into 6 wedges. Place the cake on a hot grill rack and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until lightly toasted on both sides, turning over once.

Spoon the strawberries with their juice onto 6 dessert plates.

Place the grilled cake on the plates with the strawberries; serve with whipped cream, if desired.

Source: Good Housekeeping

GRILLED PEACHES WITH CINNAMON-SOUR CREAM SAUCE

1/2 cup reduced fat or light sour cream

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

4 fresh peaches (1 pound), cut in half, pitted

2 tablespoons honey

Heat the greased grill to medium-high heat.

Mix the sour cream, sugar and cinnamon together and set aside.

Brush the cut sides of the peaches with honey.

Grill 6 to 8 minutes or until softened, turning occasionally.

Serve topped with sour cream sauce.

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