Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Apples & Pears with Crème Fraîche Cinnamon Dip

Although fall has arrived for many of you, here in Texas we are still enjoying summer (or rather, what summer should be): highs in the 80s and 90s, lows in the 60s. And although it still doesn't feel like fall, I'm certainly enjoying this pleasant weather.

So the other week when I was asked to bring a fruit salad to a friend's house for dinner, I knew I wanted to bring the classic fall fruits -- apples and pears. But life is certainly busy, and I had just a few minutes to throw this together. Rushing home from work, I ran to the grocery store, thinking I would pick up a fruit tray. And there, in the refrigerated grocery section, were all kinds of fruit trays...with strawberries, cantaloupe, watermelon, kiwi -- pretty much every possible fruit except for the ones that were actually in season!

So instead, I grabbed a bunch of apples and pears, as well as an apple pear. No, that's not a typo. :-) The grocery store really was selling a big bin of apple pears (or pear apples -- I can't remember the right order)! (I wasn't impressed with it though; it tasted mostly like a very bland apple to me.) I also threw in an orange.  Because I had a plan!

Also, I chose a variety of red, yellow, and green apples and pears, because I wanted the mix of fruit to look pretty and fallish.  Please ignore the fact that in the picture above I only have green apples and one pear apple (pearapple???). And a pumpkin. Which is not relevant to this recipe, but it's Fall. So I have to have a pumpkin, right? :-)

At home, I sliced the apples, pears and pearapple (papple???) and squeezed a generous amount of orange juice on them to keep them from browning. I know that some people squeeze lemon juice on these kinds of fruits to keep them from browning, but I have found that the lemon juice really increases the tartness of the fruit. I prefer using the milder orange juice because it still does the job, but is less acidic.

Next, I grabbed the half-used container of crème fraîche, left over from my Mini Herb Frittatas. Now, you might ask, why is she using all of these expensive, fancy ingredients?

Well, my friends, first, because I happened to have it in my refrigerator. :) Second, I wanted to show you how versatile and amazing this delicious French cream is. Because it is a combination of cream and buttermilk, you can whip crème fraîche up, just like heavy cream, and you will get the same soft, fluffy consistency of whipped cream. Only it will have a delicious, nutty complexity.

Crème fraîche, on its own, is not sweet, so you will have to add sugar if you want it to be sweet, kind of like cool whip, only a million times more delicious. Third, you can actually make crème fraîche, very cheaply and easily. Now, I haven't tried this yet, though I do want to soon. I'll let you know how it compares. But if you make your own, you must plan ahead and give it several days to ferment. And in this instance, time and planning ahead were not going to happen.

Ok, so along with the crème fraîche, I threw in a tablespoon or two of sugar, a little bit of heavy cream, to give it added fluffiness and cinnamon. Then I whipped it up into a delicious dip, threw it all into containers and rushed out of the house....only 15 minutes late for dinner, rather than 30 minutes late. :-)

The apples and dip were a hit. The cinnamon and cream gave the apples just that hint of a fall dessert. Kind of like eating a healthier, deconstructed version of apple pie. If you need a light dessert for a heavy meal or an appetizer for your fall parties, this Crème Fraîche Cinnamon Dip with Apples & Pears really fits the bill.

I hope you'll give it a try!

Apples & Pears with Crème Fraîche Cinnamon Dip

1 cup crème fraîche
4 Tb heavy cream, optional
3 Tb sugar, to taste
4 tsp cinnamon, to taste
Pinch of salt

Variety of sliced pears and apples (both tart and sweet varieties such as Granny Smith, Honey Crisp and Gala)
Juice from half an orange

For dip, combine crème fraîche, heavy cream, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Whip ingredients with an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Taste dip and adjust ingredients to suite your taste. Add more sugar for a sweeter dip or more cinnamon, if desired. If dip is too sweet, add more crème fraîche and whip for 30 seconds more. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

Combine apples slices in a bowl and squeeze the juice from half an orange onto them to prevent browning. Mix thoroughly and serve with Crème Fraîche Cinnamon Dip.

Dessert, snack, appetizer.... it can be all of these. Plus it's fast, simple, and kinda healthy-ish (more so than apple pie, right??). If you run out of dip but still have fruit to finish up, you can always microwave a jar of caramel ice cream topping, drizzle it over the rest of the fruit....appetizer number two. :-)


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