Ess, Ess/Eat, Eat

Jewish World Review Jan. 24, 2002/ 11 Shevat 5762

15 minutes -- or so -- desserts

By Ethel G. Hofman -- LET'S not kid ourselves. To say one can whip up a dessert in 15 minutes depends solely on who is making it. For some, kitchen skills are sketchy, items which may not have been used for a while may be hidden behind cans in the pantry and take time to locate, and/or rarely used appliances must be hauled out of inconvenient corners. Thus a time frame of 15 minutes is to put it loosely "more or less."

But the recipes below are hassle free for both experienced and novice cooks. Culinary authority Myra Chanin whipped up the Strawberry Fluff late one evening after the theatre. Low calorie, the secret of speed and good taste, is in the combination of the right ingredients and the right appliance - the food processor. Four brioches, (semisweet light rolls,) from my freezer each wrapped loosely in paper towels and microwaved on High for 12 seconds, is the basis for a scrumptious dessert able to stand proudly alone with a cup of coffee or as an impressive ending to a meal. Winter fruits such as apples and pears are speedily transformed into a spiced compote, all the ingredients roasted in a skillet.

In the menu below absolutely everything should and can

Recipes may be quick and easy but they can also be impressive, depending on the garnish. Keep a supply of up-grade garnishes on hand. Items such as gourmet cookies and chocolate covered coffee beans may be stored in the freezer. Lovely to decorate any dessert, even a dish of gelatin pudding. Chopped pistachios stored in a tightly lidded container or sealable plastic bag freezes well and may be spooned out as needed for a colorful topping. A marzipan log purchased in the market may be molded into shapes or thinly sliced to stylize a rich pudding or dessert. Scatter a few crystallized violets on top of a dish of lemon sorbet - crystallized violets or rose petals may be stored in their container in a cool dry place, or chop canned chestnuts in syrup and spoon over vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt. And cocoa powder, instant coffee or confectioners sugar sifted over a paper doiley onto mini-muffins or a storebought cake elevates the ordinary to something a bit more special. Check your refrigerator and freezer for more ideas and as you shop, pick up any items you feel would add panache to your repertoire of quick creations.

To make these desserts easy and failsafe, here are a few tips to start:



Slightly defrost the strawberries by microwaving on Defrost for 1 1/2 -2 minutes. Cut in 8 pieces. Place in the food processor and 3or 4 times until breaking up. Add the non-dairy topping and process until smooth, about 10 seconds. Sweeten to taste with artificial sweetener. Spoon into small dessert dishes. Serve with a chocolate cookie on the side. (optional)



  • 1/2 cup caramel topping from a jar
  • 1/4 cup canned spiced pumpkin mix
  • 3 tablespoons light cream
  • 4 brioches
  • 4 small scoops vanilla ice cream

Place the caramel topping, spiced pumpkin and cream in a small glass bowl. Microwave for 1-2 minutes on High or until the topping is melted, warm and consistency of thick cream. Add a little more cream if needed. Stir to mix thoroughly. Remove the little knob on top of each brioche. Using a melon-baller, insert a scoop of ice cream in each. Replace the knobs. Drizzle a little warm sauce on each plate, place an iced brioche in center and drizzle remaining sauce over. Serve immediately.


4 servings

  • 3/4 cup dark raisins
  • 1/3 cup dark rum
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 medium cantaloupe
  • 4 lady fingers
  • 3 egg whites
  • 3/4 cup sugar

Place the raisins, rum and water in a small glass dish. Cover with plastic wrap and vent one corner. Microwave for 2 minutes at Medium. Remove from microwave and set aside. Cut cantaloupe in 4 wedges and remove seeds. Cut a small slice from the bottom so that each wedge stands firmly. Set on a broiler pan. Place a lady finger in the cavity of each wedge. Spoon the raisin-rum mixture over, dividing evenly. Set aside. Whip the egg whites until they peak softly. Gradually add the sugar, one quarter cup at a time, whisking well between each addition. Spoon over raisins to cover or use a piping bag and a large star nozzle to pipe the meringue mixture over. Place under preheated broiler until beginning to turn a delicate brown, 20-30 seconds. Watch carefully to prevent scorching.



  • 2 medium sized apples, cored
  • 2 bosc pears, cored
  • 3 tablespoons margarine
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon each cinnamon and nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pistachios

Cut each apple and pear into 1/2-inch thick wedges. In a large, preferably non-stick,skillet, melt the margarine over medium high heat. Stir in the honey. Add the apple and pear wedges and saute over high heat for 5 minutes or until fruit is beginning to lose its raw look. Stir in the cinnamon, nutmeg and pepper. Cook for a minute longer. Transfer to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with apricots and pistachios. Serve warm.



  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 1 (6 ounce) package semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 2 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 4 - 4 1/2 cups corn flakes

Spray 2 large cookie sheets with non-stick cooking spray. In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter, chocolate chips and peanut butter until combined, stirring often. Add the marshmallows and stir until almost melted. Remove from heat. Stir in enough corn flakes to make a stiff mixture. Drop heaping tablespoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheets. Refrigerate to firm up.

Note: these keep well in a tightly covered container at room temperature.



  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 (1/2-inch thick) slices polenta
  • 1/4 cup cinnamon sugar
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1/2 cup whipped cream

Heat the butter in a small, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the polenta and fry to a golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes each side. Remove to serving dishes. Sprinkle with half of the cinnamon sugar mixture. Top with the sliced strawberries, dividing evenly. Garnish with the whipped cream and remaining cinnamon sugar.



  • 8 slices (1/2-inch thick) pound cake
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons apricot or fruit chutney
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

Spread 4 slices pound cake with softened cream cheese. Top with chutney. Place remaining pound cake slices on top to make 4 sandwiches. Brush on both sides with melted butter. Cut each slice in half and place on a broiler pan. Sprinkle with brown sugar pressing into cake with a spoon. Cook under preheated broiler until brown sugar is beginning to bubble, 3-4 minutes. Let stand a minute or two before serving.

JWR contributor Ethel G. Hofman is the former president of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, whose members include the likes of Julia Child. She is the author, most recently, of Everyday Cooking for the Jewish Home: More Than 350 Delectable Recipes.


© 2002, Ethel G. Hofman