Blackberry Purée

Blackberry Purée

                    Blackberries
                    Sugar

Place fresh or thawed whole frozen blackberries in food mill, blender, or food processor and process until smooth. If desired, seeds may be removed by straining through a medium sieve and using a rubber spatula to press pulp through while scraping underside of sieve. Add sugar to taste. A good rule of thumb for sweetening is about 2 tablespoons sugar per cup of whole berries.

HINTS FOR USING BERRY PURÉES
? A quick, yet elegant dessert is a scoop of vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt topped with hot fudge and sweetened blackberry or raspberry purée.

? Spoon a small pool of sweetened purée into the center of dessert plates, then place a serving of pastry? be it apple tart, cheesecake, or chocolate truffle cake? in the center; the color and flavor combinations are fabulous.

? Highlight the colors of berry purées by placing sweetened blackberry and raspberry purées side by side on a plate, either in bold strips, or elegant swirls, then accenting with a serving of pastry.

? For a European flair, create an elegant lacy effect by spooning a border of sweetened berry purée onto dessert plates. Then add tiny drops of whipped cream at 1-inch intervals; run a toothpick through the cream to draw it out into the purée, thereby creating a delicate pattern of swirls and lines.

? Another trick of the European masters when garnishing a special serving of pastry with berry purée is to outline a simple shape on one half of the plate? be it a heart, crescent or free-form? with melted chocolate. You can use a pastry bag with a very tiny tip attached, or simply pour the melted chocolate into a plastic bag, then cut a small hole at one of the corners. Once the chocolate has hardened, spoon enough sweetened purée into the middle of the design so that it reaches the inner edges of the chocolate without overflowing.

? Lightly toast or broil slices of angel food cake and top with a generous squeeze of sweetened purée.

? To keep from diluting bowls of punch, freeze purée mixed with apple juice in a ring mold or decorative ice mold and float it in the punch.

? Berry purées are delicious in teriyaki or sweet-and-sour sauces as well as marinades and soups.

? Berry Butter, a delicious blending of berry purée and softened butter, is a marvelous mixture to have on hand in your freezer because it goes so well with hot rolls, French toast, waffles, muffins, breads, and much more. Once prepared, fill a pastry tube and pipe rosettes onto a small tray covered with parchment or plastic wrap. Freeze until solid, then arrange in layers between plastic wrap in an airtight freezer container. The rosettes may be stored in the freezer for several months. Remove shortly before serving.

? For a Fruit Fondue, place pieces of fruit (thick banana slices, strawberries, pineapple chunks, orange segments, apple and pear wedges) on fancy toothpicks. Swirl together some plain or lemon yogurt and sweetened berry purée. Surround the dipping sauce with small bowls of nuts and coconut for dipping too. You could also use sugar cookies, or cubes of pound cake and brownies for dipping.

? Low-Cal Twister: Pour several tablespoons of purée in a glass and add sparkling water and a twist of lime.

? Jazz up your diet sodas or lemonade with a berry purée for a new flavor: Colas, ginger ale, orange and lemon-lime with raspberry; lemon-lime with blackberry.

? Midday Refresher: Try a red raspberry iced mocha. In a blender, swirl together sweetened raspberry purée and light cream (half & half), with a bit of chilled coffee and ice. Blend until the ice is very finely crushed, then serve in a tall glass, topped with whipped cream and a fresh raspberry garnish.

? Fireside Favorite: Stir 2 tablespoons of sweetened berry purée into a mug of steaming milk or hot chocolate.