Bakedpeaches
Baked peaches.

For Yummy Desserts, Cook Some Fruit

           Roasted strawberries. Grilled peaches. Poached nectarines and plums. If you love a fruit crisp, a juicy cobbler, or a hot apple pie, these easy — no crust or crumble required —baked, roasted and poached fruit recipes will surprise you and your taste buds. 

BAKED STUFFED PEACHES

MAKES 6

This recipe uses ground almonds and crunchy Italian amaretti cookies to stuff the peaches. Serve them warm with vanilla ice cream or one of the delicious toppings that follow. 

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1/2 cup ground almonds

6 amaretti cookies, such as Lazzaroni brand, crumbled

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons white rum or sweet white wine

6 peaches, halved and pitted

12 cinnamon sticks

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. In a medium bowl, combine almonds, amaretti, brown sugar and rum or wine. 

2. With a melon ball cutter or spoon, scoop out enough pulp from the center of each peach to create a 1-inch deep cavity. Arrange peaches, cut-side up, in an ovenproof baking dish; fill each with the almond filling and top with a cinnamon stick. Cover dish with foil.

3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until fruit starts to collapse. Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes. Transfer to serving dishes; spoon juices over peaches. 

MASCARPONE CRÈME

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MAKES 1 1/2 CUPS

One 8-ounce container mascarpone 

1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream

1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer), beat mascarpone, cream, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Cover and refrigerate.

LEMON CURD WHIPPED CREAM

MAKES 2 CUPS

2 cups heavy (whipping) cream

2 to 3 tablespoons prepared lemon curd

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer), beat cream and lemon curd until stiff peaks form. Cover and refrigerate.

PEARS POACHED IN SPICED HONEY WINE

SERVES 6

            These pears are delicious for dessert, but they’re also great thinly sliced as a topping for oatmeal or French toast. Serve with crème fraiche, Mascarpone Crème or Lemon Curd Whipped Cream. 

2 cups red wine 

1/4 cup honey

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

3 whole cloves

3 cinnamon sticks

1 large piece orange peel

6 Bartlett or Anjou pears, peeled

1. In a saucepan large enough to hold the pears, bring wine, honey, sugar, lemon juice, cloves, cinnamon and orange peel to a boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer for 20 minutes. 

2. Add pears. Cover; simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, or until pears are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. Remove from heat; let pears cool in syrup. (Pears can be made 1 day ahead; cover and refrigerate). 

OLD FASHIONED BAKED APPLES

SERVES 4 

            Next to an apple crumble, a dessert of baked apples is an old-fashioned favorite. They’re simple to prepare, and you can alter the fillings to suit the season. If you cover the apples with frozen pastry you can serve them as Apple Puffs. Serve with vanilla ice cream, crème fraiche, Mascarpone Crème or Lemon Curd Whipped Cream. 

4 baking apples

1/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 cup slivered almonds or pine nuts

1/2 cup golden raisins

2 tablespoons grated orange zest

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup apple cider

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. Cut about 1/2 inch from upper half of each apple. With a sharp knife, remove core and some pulp to create a cavity. Place apples upright in an ovenproof baking dish. 

3. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, almonds or pine nuts, raisins and orange zest. Fill cavities with mixture; dot with butter. Pour apple cider around apples.

4. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, basting with pan juices several times during cooking. Remove from oven; let cool for about 10 minutes. Transfer to serving dishes; spoon juices over apples. 

OLIVE OIL CAKE WITH CABERNET FRUIT COMPOTE 

SERVES 8 

            This all-purpose cake is the perfect base for poached or roasted fruit. The poached fruit compote requires a little effort, but you can serve it on its own or as a topping for oatmeal, French toast or vanilla ice cream. The roasted strawberries are a pleasant alternative to fresh strawberries on biscuits or short cake.  

1 1/3 cups extra-virgin olive oil 

2 tablespoons grated orange zest 

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

1 3/4 cups sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/4 cups milk

3 large eggs

1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1/4 cup Grand Marnier

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray with flour.

2. In a large bowl, combine olive oil and orange zest; set aside to infuse.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and baking powder. 

4. Whisk milk, eggs, juice and Grand Marnier into olive oil. Stir in dry ingredients until just combined. (Mixture will be thick like pancake batter). Transfer to prepared pan.

5. Bake for about 1 hour, or until top is golden and a skewer inserted into center comes out clean. Remove from oven, transfer to a wire rack; let cool for at least 30 minutes. Run a knife around edge of pan; release sides. 

7. To serve, cut cake into slices. Serve with fruit compote or roasted strawberries. 

CABERNET FRUIT COMPOTE

SERVES 8

            Spoon this rich fruit compote over olive oil cake, pound cake or vanilla ice cream.

1 (750 ml) bottle cabernet sauvignon 

2 cups sugar

1 (2-inch) strip orange zest

1 (2-inch) strip lemon zest

1 cinnamon stick 

1 teaspoon allspice berries

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

3 to 4 pink peppercorns

2 peaches, stoned and cut into slices

2 plums, stoned and cut into slices

2 apples, cored and cut into slices

1/2 cup dried cranberries (optional)

1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine wine and sugar. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until sugar is dissolved. Add orange zest, lemon zest and cinnamon stick. Tie allspice, coriander and peppercorns in a small cheesecloth bundle (or put in a tea infuser); add to wine. Simmer for 10 minutes.

2. Add fruit and poach for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until slightly tender. With a slotted spoon, transfer fruit to bowl. Bring liquid to boil, and then reduce heat and simmer for 40 to 50 minutes, or until thick and syrupy.

3. Remove spice bundle or infuser; let cool completely (syrup and fruit can be refrigerated for up to one week). 

ROASTED STRAWBERRIES

SERVES 6

1 quart (about 1 pound) strawberries, hulled

1/2 cup granulated sugar

Fresh mint, for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 450°F.

2. In a large bowl, toss strawberries and sugar. Arrange on a rimmed baking sheet.

3. Roast berries, stirring every 5 minutes, for abut 15 minutes, or until soft and fragrant. 

4. Spoon strawberries on top of cake; garnish with mint.

    Margaret Johnson’s “Recipes” page expands this year to “Ireland Hopping: Adventures in Food, Drink, and Travel.” To order one of her signed cookbooks, visit www.irishcook.com.