I love this time of year.
Last week at the market, I searched for the ripest and most colorful fruits I could find. My bag was soon overflowing with peaches and berries, and I had to laugh at how quickly I was snapping them up. I mean, July is both Peach Month and Berry Month for a reason, right? But now that I had bought all these amazing fruits, I had to figure out what to do with them.
The peach and berry combination is nothing new. In fact, the most famous pairing of peaches and berries may very well be the Peach Melba, invented by Chef Auguste Escoffier in London in 1892.
Anyway, I wanted to use these peaches and berries in a way that would make a summer fruit dessert more appealing than a box of cookies in the pantry. How could I make this healthful dessert more fun?
I decided that the answer lay in toppings.
Think about it. How fun is a good sundae bar? Or those frozen yogurt shops that have you top your yogurt with all sorts of neat treats? I decided to apply the same topping principle to this delightful fruit salad and so I created a make-your-own dessert bar.
To do the same, simply cut your fruit into bite-sized pieces and then serve everything with a few fun toppings. I've listed some of my favorite toppings as a jumping-off point, but feel free to create your own!
- Chopped chocolate
- For a special treat, chop Lindt couverture into fine pieces.
- Consider offering a selection of dark, milk, and white chocolates.
- Fruit puree
- Try blending fresh strawberries with a little juice.
- Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer if you'd rather not have seeds in your puree.
- Whipped cream
- Toasted chopped nuts
- My favorites are almonds or pistachios.
- To toast the nuts, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and arrange the nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until the nuts smell toasty and have just started to brown, between 5 and 10 minutes.
- Toasted coconut
- Dried fruit
- Citrus zest
- Try orange, lime, or lemon zest!
- You can also mix a bit of zest into a bowl of sugar for a fragrant topping.
- Chocolate syrup
- Caramel syrup
Use attractive dessert dishes and allow everyone to make their own fruit concoctions. The dishes holding the toppings in the picture above are sushi sauce dishes and they are perfect for serving small amounts of toppings. We bought them in a dollar store in San Francisco. (Want to visit it? It's called Daiso and is located in Japantown).
Oh, and did you like the pictures in this post? Members can learn how to photograph on a light table, like I did here. This tutorial can really give you a leg up with displays, health fair booths, custom posters, or even your own recipe books. Not a member? Find out how to join today!
And before I end this post, I've just got to offer you this amazing new handout with a guide to building your own fresh fruit treat bar. It would make a great email blast, handout, or portion of a display. How will you use it?
PS Members also get this awesome handout! Take a look!
There's lots more in the Nutrition Education Store! Check out these great fruit and cooking resources!
Judy’s passion for cooking began with helping her grandmother make raisin oatmeal for breakfast. From there she earned her first food service job at 15, was accepted to the world-famous Culinary Institute of America at 18 (where she graduated second in her class), and went on to the Fachschule Richemont in Switzerland where she focused on pastry arts and baking. After a decade in food service for Hyatt Hotels, Judy launched Food and Health Communications to focus on flavor and health. She graduated with Summa Cum Laude distinction from Johnson and Wales University with a BS in Culinary Art, holds a master’s degree in Food Business from the Culinary Institute of America, 2 art certificates from UC Berkeley Extension, and runs a food photography studio where her love is creating fun recipes.
Judy received The Culinary Institute of America’s Pro Chef II certification, the American Culinary Federation Bronze Medal, Gold Medal, and ACF Chef of the Year. Her enthusiasm for eating nutritiously and deliciously leads her to constantly innovate and use the latest in nutritional science and Dietary Guidelines to guide her creativity, from putting new twists on fajitas to adapting Italian brownies to include ingredients like toasted nuts and cooked honey. Judy’s publishing company, Food and Health Communications, is dedicated to her vision that everyone can make food that tastes as good as it is for you.