Fruit purees provide flavor without fat

November 03, 1996|By Jimmy Schmidt | Jimmy Schmidt,KNIGHT-RIDDER NEWS SERVICE

Commercial bakers have gotten surprisingly good at eliminating fat and still coming up with a nice texture.

The best fat-busters in the home cook's arsenal are fruit purees. They are fairly dense and moist and can substitute for all or part of the fat.

When using fruit purees, select strong flavors such as prunes for spicier batters. Enhance brownies with the softer flavor of applesauce, which will not compete with the cocoa. Pair rich flavors with complementary flavors, such as raspberry and chocolate.

Even with lots of fruit puree, some pastries might seem a little rubbery without at least a little oil. In that case, use cholesterol-free oils such as canola or light olive oil.

Simmer fresh purees gently with a little sugar to taste until they are thickened to a heavy sauce consistency. Strain them through a fine sieve to remove seeds and coarse parts that would harm the pastry's texture.

Replace up to 75 percent of fat with thick fruit puree, at room temperature.

Try these low-fat brownies and carrot muffins, made with applesauce and prune puree.

Carrot muffins

Makes 16

1 1/2 cups pitted prunes

1/2 cup hot water

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 large egg whites, lightly beaten

1/4 cup canola oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups light brown sugar

2 3/4 cups cake flour, sifted

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons grated nutmeg

1 tablespoon double-acting baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups carrots, peeled, ends removed, finely grated

1/2 cup pineapple, diced

1/4 cup golden raisins, soaked in 1 cup orange juice for 1 hour to soften

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Fill a 2 1/2 -inch muffin pan with paper liners.

In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the prunes, hot water, eggs, egg whites, canola oil and vanilla. Puree until smooth. Strain. Stir in the brown sugar. Pour the mixture into a large bowl and set aside.

In another large bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and salt. Add the dry mixture to the batter, mixing just until it is smooth. Stir in the carrots, pineapple and raisins.

Divide the batter into the prepared muffin pan. Bake until muffin tops are golden, about 30 minutes. Cool on a rack.

Nutrition facts per muffin: calories, 272; calories from fat, 16 percent; fat, 5 grams; cholesterol, 40 milligrams; sodium, 198 milligrams; carbohydrate, 55 grams; protein, 4 grams. Diabetic exchanges: 2 3/4 fruit, 1/4 vegetable, 1 bread, 1/2 fat. Not recommended for diabetics.

Low-fat brownies

Serves 10

2 ounces baking chocolate

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 large egg whites, lightly beaten

3/4 cup maple syrup or honey

1 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/4 cup canola oil

1 cup cake flour, sifted

3/4 cup cocoa powder

6 ounces extra bittersweet chocolate pieces, optional

confectioners' sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-by-9-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

In the top of a double boiler with water at a low simmer, melt the baking chocolate with the vanilla. Remove from the stove and transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl. Stir in the sugar, salt, eggs and egg whites until smooth.

Mix in the syrup or honey, applesauce and canola oil.

Sift together the flour and cocoa over the batter and carefully fold in until the mixture is smooth. Add the bittersweet chocolate, if you are using it, and gently combine. Do not over-mix.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack. Dust with confectioners' sugar.

Nutrition facts per serving without extra bittersweet chocolate: calories, 379; calories from fat, 28 percent; fat, 12 grams; cholesterol, 96 milligrams; sodium, 108 milligrams; carbohydrate, 68 grams; protein, 7 grams; diabetic exchanges: 3 1/2 fruit, 1 bread, 2 fat. Not recommended for diabetics.

Nutrition facts per serving with extra bittersweet chocolate: calories, 461; calories from fat, 36 percent; fat, 19 grams; cholesterol, 96 milligrams; sodium, 108 milligrams; carbohydrate, 76 grams; protein, 8 grams; diabetic exchanges: 4 fruit, 1 bread, 3 fat. Not recommended for diabetics.

Pub Date: 11/03/96

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