It was the Romans who first formalized meals into courses, starting with Gustatio (starters or appetizers), followed by Primae Mensae (main courses) and then Secundae (Desserts).
Of course, the following of a main savory dish with something sweet (even if it's only a fruit) is as old as humanity itself. This hearkens back to human origins, when we were mostly fruit-eaters and sweetness was linked to the ripeness of fruit. The sweetness of ripe fruit being something we crave, still. Indeed, many of our desserts are an attempt to capture the taste, texture and sweetness of fruit; whether that be through the incorporation of fruit flavors or the addition of sweeteners such as honey or sugar.
Even the textures of many desserts, especially if they are custard or egg sponge based are can be described as fruit-like in consistency. Just imagine biting into a floury apple or a peach then think of a sponge or a set custard.
Admittedly, one of the favorite dessert ingredients today is chocolate, buy you have to remember that chocolate is a fat extracted from a fruit seed that's then sweetened with sugar. So chocolate is not a million miles away from the fruit from which it's produced.
Below are recipes for two classic desserts, one made with fruit the other incorporating fruit.
4 firm baking apples (I like small Bramleys or Cox's for their tartness)
4 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
45g chopped walnuts
45g chopped figs
1 tbsp butter
180ml boiling water
Wash the apples then dry them and using a sharp knife and a spoon cut and scoop out the cores to form a well about 3cm in diameter that drops down to within 1cm of the base of the fruit (leave the base whole).
Meanwhile, sir together the fruit and nuts in a bowl and add the sugar and cinnamon. Spoon this mixture into the wells you formed in the apples then transfer the fruit to a baking dish. Dot the top of each well with butter then pour the boiling water into the base of the baking dish. Transfer to an oven pre-heated to 190 ° C and bake for about 40 minutes, or until the apples are tender (but not too soft).
Remove from the oven then spoon a little of the sauce into the centers of the apples. Serve hot in dessert bowls and accompaniment with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Plum and Apple Pie with Walnut Pastry
500g sweet walnut pastry (add 50g ground walnuts to your normal pastry mix)
500g cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced
500g plums, halved and stoned
1 tbsp granulated sugar
2 egg whites
120g caster sugar
Roll out just over half the pastry on a lightly-floured surface and use to line a deep pie dish.
Add the butter to a pan and when melted stir-in the granulated sugar then add the fruit and cook until just soft (about 15 minutes). Take off the heat and allow to cool then tip into the prepared pie dish. Roll out the remaining pastry and make a lid on the pie. Crimp the edges with a fork then remove the excess pastry, make a few steam holes in the top and place in an oven pre-heated to 200 ° C. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the pastry is just colored.
Meanwhile beat the egg whites in a clean bowl until stiff. Fold in the caster sugar and then beat until dissolved into the egg white mix. Take the pie out of the oven and swirl the meringue mix over the top. Return to the oven and bake for about 8 minutes, or until the meringue is golden and set. Serve hot or cold.
Source by Dyfed Lloyd Evans