Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Four-Ingredient Solution

Dark Chocolate-Banana Souffles

When you're pressed for time, nothing's more daunting than a long list of ingredients in a recipe. But what if we told you that you can make easy, yummy desserts with just a handful of ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry or refrigerator?

It's true—and we have the proof right here! It takes only four or five ingredients (tops!) to make all the desserts we're spotlighting this season… and most of those ingredients are items we bet you already have on hand. We were privileged to have the help of baking expert Abigail Johnson Dodge, whose new cookbook, Desserts 4 Today, includes 125 easy-to-make recipes with just four ingredients each.

Crushed Raspberry-Mascarpone Whip

Of course, with so few elements, it's important that you not skimp on quality. That means using real butter, real flavorings, the freshest fruits and nuts, and—naturally—C&H Pure Cane Sugar in every recipe! "With only four ingredients in a recipe," says Abby, "each one needs to be stellar or the taste will suffer and you'll be disappointed."

Start with Fruit

Got fruit—fresh or frozen? Add just a few additional ingredients to create a beautiful, scrumptious dessert. "Ripe, fresh fruit is nature's own fast food," Abby points out. If you have an overripe banana, a few ounces of bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, C&H Pure Cane Granulated or Powdered Sugar, and three eggs, you have the makings for Dark Chocolate-Banana Souffl├ęs. They bake in less than 15 minutes and are as impressive as they are easy.

Grilled Nectarines and Raspberries

Fresh berries—in season now through summer—are the basis of Abby's gorgeous Crushed Raspberry-Mascarpone Whip. They're layered with heavy cream, mascarpone (a rich Italian triple-cream cheese), and C&H Pure Cane Granulated Sugar to create a parfait that's simply perfection. Can't find raspberries? Substitute blackberries, blueberries, or chopped ripe peaches.

We were inspired by Abby Dodge's simply spectacular fruit creations to rediscover our own four- or five-ingredient desserts. Firing up the grill for burgers or salmon? Leave room for Grilled Nectarines and Raspberries. Simply brush nectarine halves with melted butter, sprinkle with C&H Pure Cane Granulated or C&H Pure Cane Washed Raw Sugar, and grill briefly. Toss with raspberries. Raspberry Poached Pears are gently simmered in berries and simple syrup (use ultrafine C&H Pure Cane Baker's Sugar for the smoothest texture), then chilled before serving.

Strawberry Melon Granita

And don't forget granita, the easiest frozen-fruit dessert imaginable! Start with our tart, refreshing Lemon Granita, which requires exactly four ingredients and a little freezing time. With five ingredients—six if you include water—you can make Strawberry Melon Granita, a cool treat with an unexpected burst of ginger. With all granita, C&H Pure Cane Baker's Sugar will give you the very best results.

Start in Your Pantry

Rice isn't just for side dishes: it's also the basis of Abby Dodge's wonderfully satisfying Butterscotch Risotto Pudding, a rich treat on a cool spring evening. Use plump, short-grained Arborio rice for the perfect texture, and "gussy it up," as Abby recommends, with chopped nuts or chocolate-toffee bars.

Toasted Pistachio Crisps

Quick-cooking oats are nice for breakfast, but they're stellar in Scotch Teas, a rich bar cookie that uses no flour—just butter or margarine, C&H Pure Cane Golden Brown Sugar, and baking powder and salt.

We like to buy nuts in bulk and freeze them to keep them fresh. (Be sure to seal them tightly in a freezer bag.) If you have pistachios stashed in the freezer, why not try Abby Dodge's Toasted Pistachio Crisps, a refrigerator cookie that's a perfect accompaniment to ice cream (or a tall glass of milk). Give Toasted Pistachio Crisps a fancy "dress" by drizzling them with melted chocolate.

And speaking of chocolate, it's one pantry staple we always keep replenished! Add just four ingredients—whipping cream, butter, C&H Pure Cane Powdered Sugar, and unsweetened cocoa—to make Chocolate Truffles as delectable as any you'll find in a candy store. (And for a fraction of the cost!)

Start in Your Freezer

Miniature Palmiers

If you have a few sheets of puff pastry in your freezer, you're more than halfway toward creating an easy and elegant dessert. Just add an egg white, water, and C&H Sugar N' Cinnamon to make crispy-delicious Miniature Palmiers. Or substitute thawed commercial puff pastry for the cream-cheese pastry in our Rugelach recipe. All you need is C&H Pure Cane Granulated Sugar, your favorite jam, currants or raisins (optional), and chopped nuts, and you're ready to bake these classic rolled cookies.

And when company's coming for brunch, frozen bread dough can come to the rescue. Our Two-Tone Sugar Twist transforms white and whole-wheat dough into a yummy coffee cake with the addition of just three ingredients: C&H Pure Cane Golden Brown Sugar, butter or margarine, and cinnamon.

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