Savory meets sweet as summer fruit transforms into stellar ice cream toppings


Strawberries, cherries, apricots, peaches, nectarines, blueberries — the confluence of summer fruit seasons creates one of the most magical culinary moments of the year.

Here we’ve given them a stage worthy of their glory: as magical toppings for ice cream, that other summer star. With complementary flavors — chocolate for cherries, ginger and cardamom with apricots — and techniques borrowed from many disciplines — a shrub, a chutney, a compote — the gems of orchards and berry patches take on savory elements to transform into something even better, if that’s possible. It is.

Each recipe is simple enough to throw together for a last-minute party dessert and can be made with ingredients on hand. Serve over vanilla ice cream, or experiment with other flavor pairings. Break them out all summer long, while the harvest lasts.

———

APRICOT CHUTNEY

Prep: 10 minutes

Cook: 12 minutes

Makes: 2 cups

If using fresh ginger instead of crystallized, add some sugar to taste.

1 tablespoon canola or grapeseed oil

Half a small onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)

Kosher salt

2 tablespoons finely chopped crystalized ginger (or 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger)

1 to 2 green cardamom pods, husked, seeds crushed

1 teaspoon finely chopped jalapeno, optional

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup fresh orange juice

3 large fresh apricots, pitted, chopped (about 2 cups)

1/2 cup golden raisins

1. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat; add the onion, seasoning with salt. Sweat until onion softens, about 2-3 minutes.

2. Add the ginger, cardamom and jalapeno, if using; cook to bring out the flavors, about 2 minutes. Add the cider and orange juice; bring to a simmer. Simmer on low, 5 minutes.

3. Stir apricots and raisins into the pan; simmer until apricots soften a bit, but retain their shape, 2 to 3 minutes. (Add a little water, if needed, so that you have enough liquid to cook the apricots and the chutney reaches your desired consistency.) Transfer to a bowl to cool; serve warm or at room temperature over ice cream. Leftovers keep, covered, in the refrigerator for a week or so. Use at room temperature or slightly warmed.

CHERRIES IN MOLE SAUCE

Prep: 30 minutes

Cook: 5 minutes

Makes: 3 cups

1/3 cup jarred mole paste

1 cup water

1 to 2 tablespoons cherry liqueur, such as maraschino, or brandy, optional

2 cups pitted, halved, dark sweet cherries (about ¾ pound)

1 tablespoon sugar, optional

1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted

1. Dissolve the mole paste in the water in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring, until you have a smooth sauce. Add a litte more water as needed. Once dissolved, stir in the liqueur and sugar, if using, until sugar dissolves.

2. Allow the mole sauce to cool a few minutes; pour over the cherries in a bowl. Stir to coat the cherries; stir in the almonds. Serve warm over ice cream. Keeps, covered, in the refrigerator for about a week; warm gently until smooth and flowing before using.

STRAWBERRIES IN BALSAMIC SYRUP

Prep: 20 minutes

Cook: 20 minutes

Makes: about 2 cups

3/4 cup balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest

2 cups hulled, chopped strawberries

Freshly ground black pepper

Fresh basil leaves, slivered

1. Heat the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat until it comes to a boil; lower heat, so that vinegar gently boils. Cook until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 20 minutes. It should be thickened but not all the way to a syrup. Stir in the orange zest.

2. Allow to cool a few minutes; it should retain some heat but no longer be very hot. Pour over the strawberries in a bowl. Stir to coat the berries. Season generously with pepper. Stir in the basil. Serve over ice cream warm or at room temperature; keeps covered in the refrigerator up to a week.

NECTARINES WITH CANDIED BACON

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 20 minutes

Makes: 2 cups

4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut in 1-inch pieces

2 tablespoons brown sugar

4 medium nectarines, pitted, chopped (about 2 cups)

Freshly ground black pepper

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add the bacon; cook until fat begins to render, 8-10 minutes. Flip bacon to cook the other side, lowering heat to prevent burning if needed.

2. When fat is rendered, drain the fat from the skillet. Sprinkle brown sugar over bacon pieces; cook until sugar melts. Transfer to a plate; allow to cool.

3. Toss the nectarines in a bowl with the bacon; season with pepper and cinnamon to taste. Serve warm over ice cream. Keeps, covered, in the refrigerator for a week. Warm gently before using.

BLUEBERRY SHRUB

Prep: 5 minutes, plus standing time

Cook: 5 minutes

Makes: about 1 1/2 cups

From “Vinegar Revival” (Clarkson Potter, $19.99) by Harry Rosenblum. Shrubs are acid- and fruit-based beverages taken on their own or used as a base for cocktails. Rosenblum suggests using his blueberry shrub to top his balsamic ice cream. Store-bought vanilla works great too.

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (there is no need to thaw them if you’re using frozen)

1 cup sugar

2 cups sherry vinegar

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1. Place the berries and the sugar in a clean quart-sized jar with a tight-fitting lid and use a wooden spoon to crush the berries and release their juices. Let the closed jar sit for 4 hours at room temperature.

2. In a small nonreactive saucepan over medium heat, heat the vinegar to just below boiling (about 200 degrees F), then pour it over the blueberries and sugar. Add the nutmeg, seal the jar and refrigerate overnight or up to 3 days.

3. Strain out the skins, discard and use the shrub immediately. It will keep tightly sealed in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Food

Where to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner in Chicago's West Loop 
Where to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner in Chicago's West Loop 

Just on the other side of the river from downtown Chicago is West Loop, which was and remains an active industrial district. The city wears its blue collar proudly, and it was in this neighborhood that organized labor staged a rally in 1886 advocating for the eight-hour work day, an event that devolved into a deadly riot. In recent years, the area...
Restaurants in West Palm’s Northwood Village offer major dining deals
Restaurants in West Palm’s Northwood Village offer major dining deals

Northwood Village wants to put its tastiest side on display with a new restaurant promotion it calls “Summerlicious.”  Consider it the eclectic district’s way of saying, “Hey, there’s more to Northwood than hipster shops and galleries.” Eight restaurants, including the newly revamped Café Centro...
Cheers! One of West Palm’s largest craft beer festivals is this weekend
Cheers! One of West Palm’s largest craft beer festivals is this weekend

The Palm Beach Summer Beer Fest pours into the South Florida Fairgrounds Saturday. Beer lovers can sample more than 200 craft beers, all in air-conditioned comfort! The beer bash includes the following participating breweries: Twisted Trunk Brewing, Accomplice Brewery and Ciderworks, Islamorada Beer Company, Due South Brewing Co., Mathews Brewing...
Uncle Tai’s Chinese restaurant bids farewell to Boca after 32 years
Uncle Tai’s Chinese restaurant bids farewell to Boca after 32 years

 Uncle Tai’s Hunan-style restaurant might as well have been the bustling dining room in a relative’s home. This was especially true around the Jewish holidays, when the Boca Raton institution served as a gathering place for visiting relatives.  There was always on-point hot and sour soup, crispy spring rolls, scallion pancakes...
What to do with a perfect avocado
What to do with a perfect avocado

A perfect avocado is a lucky find. Neither granite-hard nor squishably soft, it should yield only slightly when pressed, maintain its integrity when sliced, and feel like butter on the tongue when eaten. Sadly, most of the avocados I bring home fall short in all kinds of fibrous, mushy, black-speckled ways. The mediocre ones get trimmed to salvage...
More Stories