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Fresh ideas with dried fruits.

NEWS IN PRODUCE isn't always fresh; in this case it's dried. Enlarging the spectrum of dried fruits available in Western markets are exotic tropicals.

Here we explore ways to take advantage of the flavors and textures of some of these fruits and old standards--in particular, dried banana, mango, papaya, pineapple, star fruit, and cherries.

Except for cherries, the dried fruits are commonly found in Asian (especially Southeast Asian) markets. You may also find a surprisingly large assortment of dried fruit in health food stores and at snack stands.

With the exception of mango and banana, the dried fruits called for in the following recipes don't taste much like their fresh counterparts. Some, like the papaya, appear to be glazed and rather translucent. Some, like the pineapple, suggest a cross between dried and candied fruit (but candied fruits are much sweeter). Others, like the banana, cherries, and star fruit, are quite shriveled and leathery to look at and touch. (Crisp chips, like those made from bananas and apples, won't work in these recipes.)

To make intensely flavored, long-lasting fruit cordials, and to infuse the dried fruit with a moist succulence that brings out its fresher side, mix fruit with a fruity white wine, sugar, and a spirit, such as brandy; then let the mixture stand several days to several months.

You can sip the sweet liquid and use the plumped fruit as a topping for desserts such as ice cream, sherbets, or sorbets; but keep in mind that as you pour out the cordial mixture, fruit that surfaces and is exposed to air will deteriorate and should be used within 2 or 3 days.

Presented in decorative glass containers, cordials make handsome gifts. The small, long-lasting fruit cakes also are attractive make-ahead offerings when sealed in foil and wrapped in colored cellophane or tissue paper.

Dried Pineapple

Cordial

1 1/2 cups fruity Chenin Blanc 1/2 cup brandy or vodka 1 cup sugar 1/4 pound dried pineapple rings, halved

In an attractive bottle or jar about 1-quart size, combine wine, brandy, and sugar, stirring well. Add pineapple (cut pieces if needed to fit into container). Cover airtight and let stand at room temperature at least 2 days for flavors to blend, or until fruit begins to fall apart, about 3 months. Stir occasionally until sugar dissolves.

Served soaked fruit as dessert topping; sip cordial from small glasses, either at room temperature or over ice. Makes about 3 cups.

Per 1/4 cup fruit and cordial: 122 cal.; 0 g protein; 0 g fat; 21 g carbo.; 9.3 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.

Dried Banana Cordial

Follow directions for dried pineapple cordial (preceding), but omit Chenin Blanc and pineapple. Instead, use 1 1/2 cups fruity Johannisberg Riesling and 1/2 pound dried bananas (the brown fruit, not the crisp chips). As an alternative for brandy, dark rum is also complementary.

Per 1/4 cup fruit and cordial: 119 cal.; 0.3 g protein; 0.1. g fat (0.1 g sat.); 22 g carbo.; 1.7 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.

Dried Cherry Cordial

Follow directions for dried pineapple cordial (preceding), but omit Chenin Blanc and pineapple; instead, use 1 1/2 cups fruity Johannisberg Riesling and 1/2 pound dried pitted cherries.

Per 1/4 cup fruit and cordial; 114 cal.; 0 g protein; 0 g fat; 20 g carbo.; 1.7 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.

Dried Mango Cordial

Follow directions for dried pineapple cordial (preceding), but omit Chenin Blanc and pineapple. Instead, use 1 1/2 cups fruity Johannisberg Riesling and 1/2 pound dried sliced mango.

Per 1/4 cup fruit and cordial: 114 cal.; 0.2 g protein; 0.1 g fat (0 g sat.); 20 g carbo.; 1.9 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.

Dried Star Fruit

Cordial

Follow directions for dried pineapple cordial (preceding), but omit pineapple and use 1/2 pound dried sliced star fruit.

Per 1/4 cup fruit and cordial: 114 cal.; 0.2 g protein; 0.1 g fat (0 g sat.); 20 g carbo.; 1.9 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.

Tropical Fruit Cake

2/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar 1/2 cup (1/4 lb.) butter or margarine, at room temperature 3 large eggs 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon ground mace 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves Tropical fruit and nut mix (following) Dried papaya, cut into thin slivers About 1 1/2 cups dark rum

In a large bowl, beat sugar and butter with a mixer until well blended, then beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, mace, and cloves. Add to egg mixture; stir, then beat to blend. Stir in fruit and nut mix.

Spoon batter equally into 10 greased 2 1/2- by 4-inch (1 1/2-in.-deep) individual loaf pans (if you have fewer pans, let batter stand as cakes bake in sequence). Spread batter evenly and smooth top. Decorate each cake with slivers of papaya.

Bake in a 300[degrees] oven until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean and cakes are firm when lightly pressed in center, 45 to 60 minutes. Cool in pans on a rack for 10 minutes, then invert onto rack to cool completely.

Set the cakes in a single layer in a 9- by 13-inch backing dish or pan, or set each cake on a rectangle of foil large enough to seal the cake airtight. Spoon 2 tablespoons of rum onto each cake slowly enough to let it seep in. Then wrap the dish or the individual cakes airtight in foil.

Store at room temperature at least 8 hours or up to 2 weeks; freeze to store up to 2 months. Makes 20 cakes, each about 5 ounces.

Per ounce: 101 cal.; 1.3 g protein; 3.8 g fat (1.5 g sat.); 13 g carbo.; 29 mg sodium; 18 mg chol.

Tropical fruit and nut mix. Combine 1 cup muscat (or golden) raisins, 1/2 cut golden raisins, 1/2 cup coarsely chopped dried papaya, 1/2 cup coarsely chopped dried mango, 1/2 cup coarsely chopped dried pineapple, 1/2 cup salted macadamia nuts, and 1/2 cup salted pistachios.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:their use in cordials and cake
Publication:Sunset
Date:Nov 1, 1991
Words:1050
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