April 26th 2013

Four favourite fruit dessert recipes, perfect for spring!

With spring finally in the air, we’re looking forward to some backyard entertaining. But what comes with the beginning of warmer weather, so does the fact that folks want to shed a bit of the extra weight they might have packed on while spending more times cozying up near the fire in the cold months.

Decadent desserts don’t have to break the calorie bank, and here are four of our favorites that are easy to prepare and highlight the simplicity of fresh spring flavors:

Simple Strawberry Pie

1 double pie crust, ready to use
5 cups strawberries, washed and hulled
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cream
Coarse sugar, for topping

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Roll out one of the pie crusts and put in a 9-inch pie plate. Crimp the edges. Roll out the second pie crust and cut into 1/2-inch thick strips with a pastry wheel. Set aside.

Put the strawberries, sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl. Mix together. Pour the mixture into the crust.

Arrange the strips over the top of the pie in a lattice pattern, tucking in the edges. Crimp any edges to seal. Brush the top with the cream and sprinkle the coarse sugar. Bake the pie for 25 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Bake until the top is golden brown and the strawberries are bubbling, about another 30 minutes. Cool to room temperature before serving. Enjoy with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Almond-Oat Rhubarb Crumble

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/3 cup quick cooking oats (not instant)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup chopped almonds
2 pounds rhubarb, washed and chopped
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Put the flour, oats, brown sugar, and pinch of the salt in a bowl. Whisk well to combine. Add the melted butter and stir until the mixture is crumbly. Mix in the almonds. Use your hands to squeeze the mixture into large crumbles, and transfer to the freezer.

Put the rhubarb, granulated sugar, remaining 1/4 cup flour, orange zest, vanilla extract, and remaining salt in an 8-inch square baking dish. Toss to combine. Remove the crumble mixture from the freezer and scatter it over top of the rhubarb mixture. Bake for about 45 minutes, until golden and the juices are bubbling. Cool at least 20 minutes before serving. Enjoy with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Blackberry Lemon Tart

Tart shell:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Pinch salt
1/2 cup butter, cold, in chunks
1 large egg, separated
2 tablespoons ice water, plus 1 teaspoon

2 large eggs
4 egg whites
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup heavy cream
Zest from 1 lemon
Pinch salt
1 pint blackberries

To make the pastry, pulse the flour, sugar, and salt together in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until the dough resembles coarse crumbs. Add the egg yolk and 2 tablespoons ice water and pulse again until the dough starts to stick together. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 30 minutes.

Lightly flour a clean work surface. Transfer the dough from the fridge onto the surface, and roll it into a 12-inch round. Transfer it to a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough into the edges of the pan, trimming where necessary. Wrap the dough in the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

When ready to bake the shell, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and prick the bottom of the dough with a fork about 10 times. Cover the shell with a piece of parchment paper and fill it with pie weight, uncooked rice, or dry beans. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove the parchment paper and the weights. Lightly beat the remaining egg white with the 1 teaspoon water. Brush the mixture onto the bottom and sides of the tart shell; set aside to cool.

To make the filling, put the eggs, egg whites, sugar, lemon juice, cream, zest, and salt in a bowl. Whisk well to combine. Put the blackberries in the cooled tart shell. Top with the lemon mixture. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, just until the centre is slightly jiggly. Cool to room temperature before removing from the pan. Serve, or refrigerate to serve cold.

Four Berry Trifle

Berry mixture:
1 pint blueberries
1 pint strawberries, hulled and cut into thick slices
2 pints raspberries
1 pint blackberries
Juice from 1 lemon
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Lemon whipped cream:
1 quart whipping cream
1 tablespoon icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Lemon Poundcake, without the glaze, sliced 1/2-inch thick cubes

Put the blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook over a simmer just until the berries begin to break down and become juicy, about 3 minutes. Remove the berries off the heat and let cool. It will thicken.

Put the whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla extract together in a chilled bowl. Whip until soft peaks form.

To assemble the trifle, spoon a layer of the whipped cream into a large glass bowl. Add a layer of the pound cake. Top with a layer of the berry mixture. Repeat 3 more times, finishing with the whipped cream. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.

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Andrew's Biography

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Andrew loves art and design, and pursues his studies in his final year at the Ontario College of Art and Design. He loves seeking out new artists and giving them their dues, and in his spare time, focuses on his own abstract sculpture.