Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Heavenly Dessert

Ever made an angel food cake?

Good for you! I have yet to conquer the sweet, egg-whitey beast. When I called Matt from the grocery store the other day, I asked him if he'd be down for a little strawberry blackberry shortcake. He groaned a little. I was totally puzzled. Turns out, it's not his favorite dessert. It is, however, one of mine.

This is because my grandmother instilled a love for all things strawberries by sitting me on a little stool in her kitchen and handing me a little bowl of strawberries with a little dipping cup in the middle of powdered sugar. I learned to dip the beautiful ruby fruits into the cloud puff of sugar happiness. Only at grandma's house will a three year old have her own bowl of powdered sugar...what a sweet, powdery, sticky mess. If that didn't top it, we'd usually read my books on Strawberry Shortcake (the cartoon character) while I dipped and drooled. Those pages in the books will never be unstuck.

Those fun (and brave, on her part) memories with my grandmother come to mind anytime I hear/see/devour strawberry shortcake the dessert. This was a common summertime (March through November in Texas) dessert when the whole family got together, and my grandmother usually served it with angel food cake. Sometimes homemade, but usually store-bought. So, if this shortcut is good enough for her, it's good enough for me.

Matt was suddenly a little intrigued when I mentioned that I'd be serving fruit topping on a pillow slice of angel food cake. So far, I've eaten half of the cake (yes...), but I'm sure he'll try it soon. Angel food cake is very low in fat (or fat free) and can be purchased/made with reduced sugar, too. It's a nice alternative to any heavy cake. So here's the super simple topping.

Warm Blackberry Compote
Makes 2 cups + a little
2 1/2 cups fresh blackberries (or frozen, if you must)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar 
2 t. cornstarch (optional)
Dash of ground ginger and cloves
1 teaspoon of citrus zest (I used grapefruit, but lemon/lime/orange works well, too)

In a saucepan on high, combine the blackberries and the water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium.

With the back of a spoon, mash about half of the berries. (This will allow whole berries to cook, as well as create a thicker compote sauce with the rest of the berries.)

If you prefer thicker sauce, add the cornstarch here. (I didn't.) Combine the rest of the ingredients into the pan and stir until dissolved. Cover and let sit for 5-10 minutes, or until sauce has thickened and berries have changed from black to a rich red sauce.

Top on heavenly angel food cake, yogurt, ice cream, toast.
Use as jam on sandwiches.
Serve beside pork, chicken, or turkey. (You might want to add a little pepper flakes or cranberries to the compote to give it a kick.)

Happy eating and Joyful living!

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