Kitchen Focus

Ice cream is great. Pound cake is great. Brownies are great. But what elevates them to divine? A heavenly dessert sauce. Whether it's fruit-based or a velvety chocolate sauce, a little spooned over a simple dessert takes it from a little treat to an after-dinner event.

This month, we begin with a short series on shortcut sauces ... an attempt to bring out the best in your meals and desserts without having to slave over a hot stove or spend hours crushing and draining fruit. So, this month, we're talking about dessert sauces.

Dessert sauces are pretty easy to put together in minutes if you have the right ingredients in your refrigerator, freezer and pantry. Having them on hand means you'll be able to put together sundaes in a flash, smother pound cake in a delightful fruit sauce and cover brownies in an easy fudge sauce in minutes. Here's my list of quick dessert sauce ingredients:

In the freezer
  • A wide variety of frozen fruit (e.g. peaches, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, apples, etc.)
  • Your favorite ice creams (more on that later)
  • Frozen whipped topping
In the refrigerator
  • Maple syrup
  • A wide variety of fruit jams and jellies
  • Vanilla and plain nonfat yogurt
In the pantry
  • A wide variety of coffee syrups and/or extracts
  • Honey
  • Chocolate chips (and some specialty flavored chips if it suits you)
  • An assortment of nuts

Putting together a quick dessert sauce can be as fast as microwaving a small bowl of your favorite ice cream. Try a creamy rocky road over your favorite brownie and you'll never go back to a naked brownie again! For a fruit sauce, I like to warm a nice jam or jelly and add some chopped frozen fruit to it and warm the entire mix through before spooning it over a lovely pound cake.

To get you started and inspired, I'm including a simple recipe to enjoy and tweak to your heart's content.

Peach-Almond Dessert Sauce

  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 1 lb. frozen peaches
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 1/2 c. coarsely chopped almonds

Place the honey in the bottom of a medium skillet and place over medium heat. When the honey gets warm and starts to bubble slightly, add the peaches and mix gently until the fruit is softened. Add the extract and nuts, remove from the heat and mix to combine. Serve warm over ice cream or pound cake.

  • Yields: 3 cups sauce
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes

If there's a topic that you'd like to see covered in this column, let me know. You can always post comments in the discussion board using the forms provided in the articles or email me directly at .