Caramelized Fruit

Adapted from "Mollie Katzen's Sunlight Café"
Preparation time: About 20 minutes
Yield: 2 to 3 servings
To dramatically transform fruit that is underripe or boring– or to bring aged, dried fruit back to life–just cook it in a little butter, and then add a touch of sugar, which will caramelize into a sweet crust. The whole thing can be done on the stovetop, or you can use a combination of the stovetop and the broiler. The fruit gets quite soft from the cooking, so be sure it is fairly firm to begin with.

This recipe calls for 1/2 to 3/4 pound fruit. With fresh fruit, this more or less translates into any of the following: 2 medium-sized apples, peaches, or pears, 6 average fresh apricots or figs, 3 to 4 plums, or half a medium pineapple. (With dried fruit, just weigh it.)
  • This tastes really good accompanied by some fresh ricotta cheese.
  • If you intend to broil the fruit, make sure the pan has an ovenproof handle.
1/2 pound fruit
1 to 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon vinegar (raspberry, cider, or balsamic)
3/4 to 1 teaspoon sugar
Orange juice (up to 1/4 cup)
Squeezable lemon or lime wedges
  1. Prepare the fruit: Halve and pit apricots and plums. Quarter and pit–or thickly slice– peaches, apples, and pears. Cut figs in half. Peel and trim pineapple, and cut it into 3/4- inch slices. Leave dried fruit whole.
  2. Place a medium-small pan over medium heat for about a minute. Add the butter, and when it melts, swirl to coat the pan. (Optional: Preheat the broiler.)
  3. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Place the fruit skin side-down in the melted butter, and cook for about 5 minutes, or until it softens slightly.
  4. Turn the fruit over, and press it down gently. (Press dried fruit flat.) Drizzle with vinegar, and cook on the second side for about 3 minutes, or until tender. Sprinkle sugar over the top, and continue cook just until the sugar melts.
  5. If desired, place under the preheated broiler for about 3 to 5 minutes or until the sugar turns golden. (Check every minute after 3 minutes, to be sure it doesn't burn.) In the case of dried fruit, broil until the sugar forms an exquisite chewy crust. 6) Remove the pan from the heat, and transfer the fruit to a plate with a rim, spooning out (and over the fruit) as much of the sauce as you can get.
  6. Pour the orange juice into the pan, and return it to low heat for a minute or so, mixing and scraping to deglaze the rest of the sauce. Pour this over the top, too.
  7. Serve hot or warm, with squeezable citrus wedges.
Variation: Caramelizing Bananas

2 medium-sized bananas (not too ripe!)–halved around the middle, then quartered
Fresh lime juice (in place of vinegar)
Pinches of cinnamon and nutmeg

Follow the same procedure, using lime juice in place of the vinegar, and adding pinches of cinnamon and nutmeg with the sugar.
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