Cheap trick #1: Seven-minute berry topping

23 Apr

Cranberry-strawberry topping

Series beginnings at Sprouted

For those of you who have been reading my silly little blog lately, you’ll notice that I recently (however recent it can be, considering I started this a couple of weeks ago) started a “Buying tip” series. So here’s the first for my “Cheap tricks” series–which I promise you, oh goodness yes, I will have plenty of. If I know anything, it’s really tricks and cheapness. Which all add up to deliciousness.

Toppings: use with children 1 and older (including 26-year-olds)

I am a woman for whom toppings call, I must admit. In a sort of irony, I developed a taste for ketchup late, I love honey mustard on more things than I care to mention, and darn it all if there is a dessert that’s not better for sprinkles. I am a child. Yes. Five years old and loving it, and I kept my promise to my mom when she asked me never to grow up. That being said, however, I think you will all agree with me that toppings hold a place in each of our hearts.

Here’s one of my favorite toppings. In this case, it’s cranberry strawberry, but the principal is the same for whatever fruit you use in your topping (and incidentally, very close to the method for making technique–maybe I’ll do a post about that later this spring or summer, if you are nice and remind me).

How it all went down

This is how it went: I wanted to make a dinner for friends of ours, and I wanted to include dessert. I had made individual cheesecakes, and my love for pretty-looking food and toppings found me using this simple formula: need (topping for dessert) + resources (buy what you use, use what you bought) + putting on my thinking hat = magicalness. Something like that. Or individual lemon cheesecakes with seven-minute cranberry-strawberry sauce. I kid you not on the seven minutes bit; most likely less.

Do it yourself!

I suggest going with dark fruits to start with, and then experiment from there. Remember to seed or core, as appropriate for the fruit you’re using. (I’ve also used plums in this, as well as nectarines; nectarines with less success.) Nearly anything will work, but as I said, these were simply ingredients asking to be used before they were losed. Hahah. That was just for rhyming; I did earn a degree in English, which came with assorted grammar and usage classes.

A few fruits to start with–you can use all of these fresh or frozen:

  • Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries…anything that ends with “berry”
  • Pitted cherries
  • Plums

Cranberry-strawberry topping

Promise me you will not go out and buy ingredients if you have other suitable fruits to use. That would defeat the purpose, and you would spend money on silly things and make me sad, and I would wonder why you don’t budget better. Remember—this is a formula more than a recipe, so it’s yours to switch up.

Tartness of the cranberries demands more sugar—reduce for other fruits, and always make sure you taste before serving (do not eat the whole thing, though). If using frozen fruits, you will not need as much water; reduce by a tablespoon or two.

4 T water? Make a wish and toss it in. It will not go awry.
½ C frozen cranberries
½ C strawberries
4 T sugar, more or less
few shakes or squeezes lemon juice (optional)

After you have heated a medium saucepan over, not coincidentally, medium heat, add all ingredients but lemon juice. Stir to combine. Cook until fruits are soft and mashable with the back of a spoon; cranberries will have burst by this time. Top cheesecakes, or freeze and use later.

Here are a few things I do with this sort of topping:

1. Dollop a tablespoon or two over plain yogurt sweetened with a little bit of honey or maple syrup (granola is great here, too)—dessert or breakfast. Bet you never thought of yogurt as dessert. Today you do!
2. Topping for pancakes, waffles, or other breakfast breads
3. Speaking of which, stir some into muffin batter or a sweet bread (like banana bread) batter
4. Spread on crusty whole-grain toast, like a chunky jam that you spent no time on
5. Top ice cream
6. Put in blended drinks for a shot of concentrated flavor
7. Stir in some seltzer water with a little sugar, for a sophisticated, sparkly drink that even kids will go for
8. Eight is great, but you’ll have to wait, because I need to go to bed.


One Response to “Cheap trick #1: Seven-minute berry topping”

  1. esprout July 26, 2011 at 1:14 pm #

    Hi, Melanie, a warm sauce with cheesecake would be delicious! I see most fruit toppings served cold, however, so if you opt to go that route, chill first. It’ll also thicken up in the fridge; if you like it thinner, keep it warm or heat it before serving.

    Cheesecakes are so simple! Good luck, and let me know how it turns out! Happy birthday to your husband.

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