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Archive for the ‘fruit’ Category

Butternut Fritters with Ginger Anise Poached Quince and honey spiced Cream Cheese

I might have mentioned, in the last few posts, all the culinary disasters that have emanated from my kitchen over the last couple of weeks, while I’ve familiarised myself with new cooking appliances. Well, okay, a bad workman always blames his tools, right? So I suppose I have to take just a wee bit of the blame moi-meme, though I’ll still try to look like the poor blameless victim and blame my flops on mental distraction due to life upheaval and an over abundance of missing kitchen gadgets and unpacked boxes. Anyway, some spiteful, slightly belligerent part of me has insisted on getting it right in one respect: those darn Pumpkin Fritters I made my gracious friends pretend to like at a Sunday tea. Poor dears, they put on brave faces one and all, while covering up the cinders with extra honey spiced cream cheese. “Wow, this cream cheese is great, what ever is in it?”, was a common cry from the infantry on the couch.

One of my Mother’s great food hugs, in my opinion, is the Pumpkin Fritter. Up there with crumpets, these little scrunchions of delight would appear sometimes on a Sunday afternoon, still hot from the pan and drenched in fresh butter and apricot jam. Sometimes they wouldn’t even make it that far as my brother and I would hang around the stove grabbing one as it came off the egg flip. I can’t remember, thinking back now, whether they were an Autumn treat or just a general now-and-again treat, seeing as how Every Season is Pumpkin Season where I come from… Oh, I did try to recreate those marvelous morsels for that awful tea…

Not to be defeated, this time I put my war paint on and, wielding my largest (and favouritestest) Henkles 4-star (le sigh) bravely attacked a real, live butternut for the purposes. Forget that canned stuff, which was half the problem with the first lot and probably had my great-grandmother turning in the grave (it just seemed so much easier than the thought of peeling and cooking a pumpkin when the guests were expected any moment now.) Pumpkin Fritters seem to be one of those uniquely South African things. Just ask any obliging South African about Pumpkin Fritters and they usually get that far away look in the eyes. Here in North America (as far as I can tell) a fritter is a doughnut type thing, deep fried and considered bad for you in that McDonalds kind of a way. Not so the humble Pumpkin Fritter. It usually uses real pumpkin, eggs, flour and a bit of sugar. In the traditional waste-not-want-not kind of a way a lot of South African food evolved, pumpkin fritters were usually made from last night’s dinner left over pumpkin. Add some spices and you’re A-for-away. Also, Butternut is slightly sweeter and more, well, buttery than regular boere pampoen (farmer’s pumpkin), which really made for a softer, less floury fritter at the end of the day.

I teamed the end results with another Autumn favourite of mine: quince, poached with ginger and star anise. The ever experimental Mr P does have his faults, one of which is his dislike for all things ginger and I have to say, I had great satisfaction watching him wolf down his dessert knowing that he had no idea he was so thoroughly enjoying a gingered treat. I knew it! He just thinks he doesn’t like ginger! I guess from now on I’ll be making “cinnamon-spice-breadmen” and “molasses-spice-houses” around Christmas time… ha!

Butternut Fritters with Ginger Anise Poached Quince and honey spiced Cream Cheese 2

Butternut Fritters with Ginger-poached Quince and Honey Spice Cream Cheese

For the poached quince:
1 large quince, cored and cubed (1 inch cubes)
1 tsp fresh, grated ginger root
2 Tbsp sugar
1 cinnamon stick
2 or 3 star anise (I used 3 for extra flavour)
3 cardamom pods
hot water, enough to almost but not quite cover quince (about 1½ cups)

For the fritters:
1 cup cooked, mashed butternut (I used ¼ of a large butternut)

1 egg
1 Tbsp sugarQuince and Ginger
pinch cinnamon
pinch cloves
1 ½ tsp baking powder
⅓ cup flour
1 – 2 Tbsp milk

For the honey spiced cream cheese
1 tub plain cream cheese
1 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp clear honey (or more to taste)
2 Tbsp milk

1. Poach the quince
– put all spices and sugar in a medium sauce pan, add 1 cup water and bring to boil. Add quince and more water if necessary. Bring to boil then lower heat and simmer for 2 – 3 hours until quince is tender. Remove from heat, cool, remove hard spices and reserve.

2. Make the Honey spiced cream cheese
-mix all ingredients together

3. Make the Fritters
– beat the butternut with the egg and sugar

– Mix all the dry ingredients and add to the pumpkin. Mix then add enough milk to make a soft dropping consistency.

– Heat a large, heavy-based non-stick frying pan on a medium heat. Cook about 3 Tbs worth of batter per fritter, as you would a pancake: 1 minute or so per side.

4. Serve!
– Top 3 or so fritters with quince, cream cheese and some reserved quince juice.

Quince

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Apple Mulberry Pie

Mmmm.  What more can you say about apple pie?  Well, actually, I can think of a thing or two.  Let’s be honest.  Is there anyone out there who doesn’t like apple pie, even if it’s somewhere deep down inside your most private thoughts?  Saying you don’t like apple pie is like saying you don’t like puppies, or the Seychelles, or the Sound of Music.  Ahem.  You know, a friend once told me, long, long ago, in a far away land, that there are two kinds of people in the world: those who like the Sound of Music and those who pretend they don’t.

I always have to be strict with myself regarding apple pie: to wait wait wait for the fresh crop of apples in the early autumn to make apple pie.  It’s all about eating seasonally, non? And yet every now and then I will break down and buy apples in April or May, those shipped in from South Africa or last season’s released from months of cold storage and make a big old apple pie.  Yet, that first pie of Autumn, with it’s super crisp, slightly tangy, tart apples is better than the Seychelles, better than it all, and a reminder to us all to be patient next year and just wait a few more months.  This pudding definitely has the proof in it.

*note: the dried white Mulberries where a gift to me from my wonderful friend, Ms A, who has opened my eyes to the culinary wonders of Persian food in all it’s glory.  You should be able to find them at any Iranian or Middle Eastern food store.

Apple Mulberry Pie 2

Apple and White Mulberry Pie

1 x pate brise
– 2 cups flour
– 1 tsp salt
– 1 tsp sugar
– 2 sticks cold butter
– ¼ – ½ cup ice water

filling:
1 cup dried white mulberries
1 Tbsp Whiskey
Hot water
2 ½ pounds apples, peeled, cored and thickly sliced
2 Tbsp lemon juice
½ cup sugar
¼ cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
pinch cloves
pinch salt
2 Tbsp butter

– put the mulberries in a small bowl, cover with hot water and whiskey and allow to sit for a at least an hour to soften.

Make the pastry:
– whisk together flour, salt and sugar.

– chop cold butter into small pieces and then run into the flour mix until it starts to resemble oat meal with pea sized chunks of butter.

– add water and mix with your hands until a dough just starts to form.  Dump the almost-dough onto a piece of cling wrap.  Divide the mix into two, putting the other half onto another piece of cling film.  Shap each piece into a rough disc, cover completely with plastic and pop in the fridge for an hour.

– pre heat the oven to 440˚F

– remove one half of the chilled dough at a time and roll out into a circle, large enough to line the pie tin with a a good 1½ inch flap over.  use one half to line a greased pie tin, in the fridge, and keep the other flat, on a baking sheet in the fridge for the top.  Refrigerate pastry for another 15 – 20 mins while you prepare the filling.

– mix apples with lemon juice, flour, sugar and spices, leave at room temp for 10 mins.  Add mulberries and mix.

– take pie shell out of the fridge. Fill with apple mulberry mix and dot with butter.

– Brush edges of pie crust with water and place top pastry over the filling, pressing down on the edges to seal the pie.  Trim the pastry edge to a 1 inch over hang. Tuck top pastry under bottom along the edges to form a good seal.  Use your fingers or the tines of a fork to reinforce and decorate pie edge.  Cut 4 slits into the pie, starting from about 2 inches short of the top and running to about 4 inches from the edge for steam vents.

– decorate with pastry leaves, if desired, and brush pastry with milk or beaten egg.

– place you oven shelf on the lowest rung available and bake pie for 50 – 60 mins until juices are bubbling out of the slits and the pastry is golden brown.

Apples and Mulberries

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the perfect apple

I received a phone call from a wonderful friend the other day. “I’m so excited,” she quirped, ” I’m outside a fruit stall and I’ve found the most perfect apples. They’re just too beautiful, I’m going to buy you one.” My kind of friend. And she was right. When we met up later at the Farmers Market, which has sort of become a naughty habitude of ours, she plonked her find down on the picnic table we were sitting at, snacking on various freshly bought goodies, and grinned at me. “Don’t you think?” she asked. I did. I thought very much. Just perfect. It’s colour somewhere between ochre and chartreuse, the size of a softball, and firm and crisp in texture. I got home, gave it pride of place in the fruit bowl and spent 2 days looking at it before deciding just what would be the perfect ouvre for this perfect apple. A perfect, early autumn apple. A bread pudding perhaps? Could it be that simple?

So, the problem I’ve always had with bread pudding is that it often felt like some sort of punishment at home. I was known, as a child (and sometimes as an adult), for living with ‘my head in cloud nine’, as my Mum would say. There were plenty occasions growing up where I left my lunch behind on the kitchen counter: peanut butter and jam sandwiches neatly wrapped in wax paper; only to find, later that starving day, that we were having bread pudding for dinner. Peanut butter and jam bread pudding. Needless to say, it’s taken me a bit of time to confront the bread pudding demon from my past and establish that it is, indeed, one of the greatest of comfort puddings known to man. And downright thrifty too, if you don’t mind me saying. In fact, I might go so far as to say that bread pudding is quite possibly the only acceptable way to head into autumn. An army marches on its stomach, after all. Best be prepared, non?

Apple nut bread pudding

Apple and Four Nut Bread Pudding

feeds 4 (or 2 with leftovers for round two the next day)

4 slices whole grain bread
butter, enough for spreading bread, greasing dish and dotting on pudding
6 – 8 Tbsp sweetened Chestnut Spread (creme de Marrons)
1 big (perfect) apple, peeled, cored and sliced (I ate the perfect peel, don’t you worry)
½ cup saltana’s
4 large eggs
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp clovesCreme de marrons
pinch nutmeg
pinch salt
¼ cup golden brown sugar
1 cup milk
¼ cup chopped walnuts
¼ pistachio’s

– preheat the oven to 400˚F

– thinly butter the bread and spread with chestnut spread. Cut slices into quarters, diagonally, to make tirangles

– grease an oven proof dish. Alternate slices of bread and slices of apple to fill the dish.

– scatter saltana’s over top

– beat eggs with spices, salt and sugar, then add milk and beat well but not long enough to froth the eggs.

– pour milk/egg over bread. Scatter nuts over top and let pudding sit for 5 minutes. This lets the bread absorb the liquid.

– bake for about 35 – 40 mins.

– serve with vanilla ice-cream or whipped cream.

Apple nut bread pudding baked

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white chocolate tart with blackberries 1

I’ve been using Mr P’s camera for the last while to take blog photographs, seeing as how I’m still a poor and starving artist. Wait. Did I just say ‘starving’? Well, hardly, but I’m still holding out for the camera I long for and in the interim I’m a Borrower. On Sunday I did something I’ve never done before, trained as I am with the reflexes of a cat (ahem) and dropped Mr P’s appropriated private possession, destroying the focus and retraction on the lens. Not wanting to beat about the bush for too long I ran out at first light, well 10am when the shops opened doors you must be a stickler for detail, and purchased a replacement model, which is shiny and new, with bells and whistles (the old one just had the bells) and fits in to the hand like it was born to be there. The proof of the pudding, as always in this house, is in the eating, so we’ll have to wait and see the first foodie photo’s it takes before we judge.

In the mean time, perhaps I could interest you in a little something something for that sweet tooth. A little derivative from Sylivie, who somehow always leaves me feeling a little breathless and under qualified in the baking department.

*note: this recipe needs about 6 hours in the fridge, preferably overnight. It’s great for entertaining as you can make the shells and filling the day before and just whip up and decorate the tarts before your guests arrive.

white chocolate tart with blackberries 2

White Chocolate Tarts with Black berries

for the pate sable:
200g butter, softened
pinch salt
⅓ cup icing sugar, sifted
¼ cup almond flour
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 Tbsp + 1½ cup flour

for the filling:
70g white chocolate, chopped
2 Tbsp + 60 ml Cream

1 punnet black berries, washed

make the pastry:
– beat the butter with the almond flour, salt and sugar until creamy.

– add the egg, vanilla and 1 Tbsp of the flour and beat until smooth.

– add the rest of the flour and combine to form a sticky dough. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour

– roll out and line greased and floured tart tins, refrigerate for a few mins

– heat oven to 360˚. Blind bake tarts (using parchment paper and legumes/lentils/etc) for 10 mins

– remove from oven, remove paper and legumes, bake empty tart shells another 7 – 10 mins until pastry is coming away from the sides of the tins and is “singing”.

– cool tart shells to room temperature.

make the filling:

– in a bain mare, melt the chocolate with the 2 Tbsp cream

– when the ganache is smooth, remove from heat to cool a bit. Add the rest of the cream and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

– whip the chocolate cream until it’s stiff. It whips up really quickly.

– fill the baked tart shells and top with black berries.

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Chocolate and Pear tart

I’m a tart for a tart, if you know what I mean. It seems to me that not that many people make tarts and pies in their own homes because they perceive making pastry as too much work and trouble to bother with. Much easier to make a cake, non? Well, the truth is that I love making pastry. And I don’t just mean in the eating thereof. I mean the whole shoopshebang of it. I love getting my fingers involved in a pate brise, I love having the ball of dough shaped in my hands before it goes in the fridge and I love, love, love rolling it all out on a floured work surface. It seems such an elemental thing, one of the simple pleasures in life, the antithesis of the rush and grind of everyday chores and work loads. When I’m in a bit of a grump, sometimes there’s nothing for it all but a bit of dough therapy. Of course, there’s an infinite amount of satisfaction in eating a freshly baked bit of pastry, filled with what-have-you, don’t you agree? Oh, and when you’re cooking for friends, who doesn’t love a bit of an after dinner tart?

asian pears

*note: the pastry for this tart is a Pate Sable, which needs to be worked with really cold or it’ll be to soft to roll, so make sure you refrigerate the dough for at least an hour. I had mine in the fridge overnight and then let it sit at room temperature for just under 10 mins before using.

Chocolate and Pear tart 2

Dark Chocolate and Pear Tarts

makes 3 or 4 small tarts, or 1 medium one

for the pastry:
1 cup flour
2 Tbsp Cocoa powder (unsweetened)
110g butter, softened
100ml icing sugar (about 55 g)
1 egg, beaten

for the filling:
3 or 4 small Asian pears, peeled cored and chopped to 5mm pieces (to make about a cup of fruit)
60 ml cream
1 Tbsp Caster sugar
1 tsp butter

100g good dark chocolate (I used 70%)
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of ground cloves
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp whiskey (optional)
1 egg yolk
2 egg whites

Make the pastry:
– whisk the flour and cocoa together until well combined

– beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Add the egg and 1 Tbsp of the flour mix and beat until smooth.

– add the rest of the flour and combine to form a sticky dough. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour

– roll out and line greased and floured tart tins, refrigerate for a few mins

– heat oven to 360˚. Blind bake tarts (using parchment paper and legumes/lentils/etc) for 10 mins

– remove from oven, remove paper and legumes, bake empty tart shells another 7 – 10 mins until pastry is coming away from the sides of the tins and is “singing”.

– cool tart shells to room temperature.

Make the filling:
– chop the chocolate into small pieces. Place in a double boiler with the spices and butter and allow to melt slowly.

– heat the cream and sugar for the pear over a low heat until sugar has dissolved. Add pears and increase heat. Bring to a simmer and cook pears for about 15 – 20 mins, caramelising the pears. remove from heat and allow to cool.

-When choc is melted and smooth, add whiskey and egg yolk and mix well. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

– whip egg whites until stiff. Vigorously stir in a big spoon of the egg white to life the mixture then gently fold in the rest of the egg white in 3 or 4 goes.

– carefully add pear, reserving some for a garnish, and incorporate well, being careful not to flatten the chocolate mousse.

– divide between tart shells, garnish with remaining pear and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

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Blueberry tea cakes

I’m feeling a little tender this morning and in need of a culinary hug. I’ll think back to this cheery little tea I had with my darling Mr P last week, and perhaps slip off with a girlfriend to find something similar at the Red Tea Box. For these little cakelings I whipped up a simple, slightly heavy cake batter, added a pinch of ground cardamom and a whole, oozing cup of wild blueberries (I only made just enough batter for two, so they really were packed with the little globes of blue) then topped each filled ramekin with a fat disc of Marzipan and a big handful more of the berries. Nothing shy about these babies. Eaten still hot from the oven, soaked with fresh cream and a cup of tea, like snuggles in the duvet on a Sunday morning.

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Muslie pancrepes

We’ve all heard it a thousand times before: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. We’ve heard it from our mothers and fathers, from our doctors, our teachers, our newspapers and magazines. I had to learn the hard way to start the day off right. I used to wake up late, being a committed fan of Club Duvet, rush through my morning routine of showering, dressing and general cleanliness and then dash out the door and head off straight to work. “I’ll grab something at work” I used to tell myself, but apart from a cup of tea or coffee, I very often would get so absorbed and distracted by work that I’d look up, famished, at 3 0’clock and wonder why I felt so tired and lack-luster. Now I know: if I skip a meal, I won’t make it through the day without needing to put my head down. And while I love a nap now and then on a rainy Sunday, there’s really just so much I’d rather be doing. During the week, as a rule, I usually start the day with a lovely bowl of muesli, which I custom make from my little jars of grains, seeds, nuts and fruit, with a dollop of yoghurt and a generous mug of fresh Cafetiere-style coffee. Weekends, when the ever delightful Mr P is around, is when the fun happens. So what do you do when you’ve had a long weekend full of the fun and you’re somewhat fed up (so to speak) with eggs over easy and blueberry pancakes; but your husband wants something a bit more elaborate than a bowl of cereal? Well, a wise woman would tell you, marriages are all about compromise, non?

Voila.

*note: due to the lack of plain flour gluten (I’m guessing here) these Pancrepes don’t hold together as well as ordinary crepes, so they’re somewhere between Crepes and all-American breakfast pancakes. Hence the name. Get it?

Muesli PanCrepes with Berry Compote and Cream Cheese

for the pancakes:
½ cup + 2 Tbsp Quinoa flour
2 Tbsp ground flax seed
2 Tbsp ground oatbran
1 Tbsp poppy seeds
1 Tbsp ground cornmeal (not corn starch, but finer than Polenta)
1 Tbsp ground Almonds
1 tsp baking powder
½ Tbsp maple sugar (or use caster sugar)
pinch salt
1 cup rice milk (or cows milk)
2 eggs, beaten

for the compote:
1 cup berries of your choice (I used wild blueberries and blackberries)
¼ cup water
½ Tbsp maple sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice

cream cheese to serve

1: make the batter

– combine all dry ingredients and mix thoroughly with a whisk

– combine eggs and milk. Add to dry ingredients and whisk until smooth.

– leave to stand for 20 mins or so, while you make the compote.

2: make the compote

– combine fruit, water, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 mins. Keep warm while you make the pancakes.

3: make the pancakes and serve

– put a plate on the lowest rung of your oven and turn the oven onto it’s lowest setting. Put a small dollop of butter onto the plate.

– heat a non stick skillet or frying pan or griddle on a medium to high heat

– using a soup ladle, drop one ladle of batter onto the hot surface at a time, swirling the mixture around the pan a little to spread it out. The end pancake should be somewhere between crepe and pancake thickness.

– when bubbles begin to pop on the surface, carefully turn the cake over using an egg lifter and cook the other side.

– when the pancake is cooked, put it in the oven on the plate while you cook the rest. If you’re feeling indulgent, plop a little piece of butter onto the top of each crepe while it waits for its neighbour.

– serve with fruit compote, cream cheese and plenty of Maple syrup.

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Strawberry sorbet

Could they be the last of the season?  I always thought Strawberries were a Spring thing, everywhere except England where they’re a year round thing, it seems.  Well, it’s August, isn’t it?  And that’s no time for Spring Chickens.  But yet, there they were, sweetly fragranced, locally produced Strawberries, shining freshly under the market lights.  And a bargain too!  Why?  What’s the deal?  Well, I gave them a good sniff, a prod and decided not to look a gift horse in the mouth.  When I got home I popped one in my mouth and the flavour was every bit as good as the colour and smell.  Too good to be true!  These were almost the best Strawberries of the season, and here it’s the middle of August.  Those didn’t last long, and I went straight back the next morning for another batch.  Of course we ended up eating them with all sorts of things, but this was my favourite way:

Strawberry Sorbet

about 1½ cups strawberries,
washed and hulled
5 or 6 blocks of ice
¼ cup water
1 Tbsp or so lemon juice
3 Tbsp castor sugar
1 tsp Vanilla essence

-Place all ingredients in a blender and pulse until the ice has broken down.

-blend on high for a minute or two until the mixture is a good slush.

-place the mixture in the freezer.

-freeze for ½ hour at a time, remove from freezer and blend to break crystals.  repeat 4 or 5 times before freezing.

-Remove from freezer 10 mins prior to eating and beat a bit to loosen the ice.

*try adding a couple Tbsp of your favorite alcohol to the mixture to prevent it from freezing so solidly

strawberry-comp.jpg

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Banana chocolate tarts with coconut

While away camping in Algonquin we had something for dessert that I haven’t had in a million years. I watched the shiny parcels being made up and carefully placed in the hot, glowing coals of a camp fire and as the packages were eventually passed around, one at a time, the silver foil peeled back and the sweet steam billowed into fire-lit faces, I felt eons and ages dissolving from my soul like the shadows of night at the dawn. I was a child again for a while; I was 5, I was 7, I was 11 years old gleefully eating baked banana’s with chocolate oozing out of them. That weekend had many moments that will stay with me forever, and that will be one of the top ones. This is a slightly less messy, more grown up approach, but just as yummy.

*ps/ I sneakily made a double batch of the pastry from the peach tart, which I used here. Use your own taste when making these tarts up as to the choc/coconut/banana ratio. Amounts are only a guide.

Banana chocolate tarts with coconut 2

Chocolate Banana Tarts with Coconut

6 Pate Brise lined mini tart tins (5″)

90 ml dark chocolate spread (or use a hazelnut choc spread like Nutella)
60 ml dessicated coconut
3 large banana’s, thinly sliced
30 ml white sugar
30 ml light brown (blonde) sugar

– preheat your oven to 400˚F

– Spread 1 Tbsp choc spread on the base of each tart shell

– divide the coconut between the tarts (about 2 tsp each)

– arrange the banana slices over the coconut

– mix the two sugars in a small bowl

– sprinkle half the sugar over the tarts, reserve the rest

– bake the tarts for about 20 mins.

– Sprinkle remaining sugar over banana’s. Caramelise with a blow torch until sugar is golden.

– alternatively, grill under a hot grill in your oven for a few minutes, but keep an eye on them so as not to burn the pastry.

Banana chocolate tarts with coconut 3

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Raspberry Rosewater Popsicles

Popsicles are a great way of cooling down, and you can use what ever you have in the fridge or fruit basket. Basically, you make a smoothie, throw a popsicle stick in it and freeze. Voila! Try peach and blueberry or strawberry and banana. yumaroo!

Raspberry, Banana and Rosewater Popsicles

1 cup raspberry pulp
1 large banana
½ cup fat free plain yoghurt
⅓ cup pear juice (or try apple)
¼ cup rosewater

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into individual containers (I used large shot glasses), pop a popsicle stick into it and freeze.

To remove from glass, run the outside of the container under a warm tap for about 15 seconds and pull out the popsicle.

Raspberry Rosewater Popsicles 2

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