The fresh raspberries in our market in winter are too expensive and not very tasty. But I recently saw a package of unsweetened frozen raspberries that were reasonably priced and supposedly picked at the height of the berry season. They seemed like a much better alternative than fresh at this time of year and I began to plan how I might use them in a red-and-white Valentine’s Day dessert.
Frozen berries may taste wonderful, but they don’t hold their shape well.Raspberry sauce was the logical solution, paired with something light-colored. I remembered from my Derecho strawberry jam adventure that kiwi has natural pectin. I reasoned that if it made jam get firmer, kiwi could do the same for raspberry sauce. To test my theory I made 2 batches of raspberry sauce – one with kiwi and one without. The kiwi did work as I had expected and the result was 2 nice batches of raspberry sauce, a firm one with kiwi that had a thick, almost jam-like consistency, and one without kiwi that slipped easily off a spoon. Both were intensely fruity and quite delicious, without being overly sweet.
Easy Raspberry Sauce
Serving – ¼ cup concentrated sauce Cost – $2.50
- 2 cups frozen raspberries (about 10-12 ounces)
- ¼ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon lemon juice
- ½ kiwi, peeled and cut into small pieces
- Cutting board
- Small knife
- Measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
- Small pot
- Wire strainer
- 2 spoons, 1 large and 1 small-medium
- Rubber spatula
- Place all the ingredients in the pot.
- Bring them to a simmer on the stove. Continue cooking the mixture under a low light, stirring occasionally, for approximately 10 minutes. Be careful not to burn it. The kiwi should dissolve and the raspberries will turn into a mixture with the consistency of ketchup, but with seeds.
- Take the mixture off the heat. Using the spatula, pour it into the wire strainer with the bowl underneath.
- Press the mixture through the strainer with the back of the large spoon, occasionally scraping the bottom of the strainer into the bowl. It takes a few minutes to press all the raspberry essence out of the seeds, but it isn’t hard work. What goes into the bowl is the sauce with no seeds. Dispose of the seeds left in the strainer.
I would gladly use either version of the raspberry sauce (with kiwi or without) on ice cream, straight up or mixed with an orange liqueur such as Cointreau or Grand Marnier. But simply pouring sauce over a frozen dessert didn’t seem quite festive enough for Valentine’s Day. So I set to work creating a Valentine’s Day Raspberry Poke Cupcake.
For those of you who have never heard of Poke Cake, it is a made by poking holes (often with the handle of a wooden spoon) in a baked cake and pouring something luscious into the holes that seeps through the cake. I’ve never made a whole cake poke-style, but this sauce inspired me to use the concept for cupcakes.
As the base, I used a yellow cake recipe from The Kitchn. With milk and a cup of butter, the recipe yielded a light, moist, and buttery cupcake with a nice “crumb.” The cupcakes took just a few minutes less than the 25-30 specified in the recipe for 9-inch pans. As soon as the cupcakes came out of the oven, I poked a hole with the handle of a wooden spoon into their centers and gently spooned in raspberry sauce.
After the cupcakes had cooled, I opened one up and tasted it. The sauce had spread slightly but remained basically concentrated in a funnel through the center. The color contrast and the complimentary flavors work well.
For a non-chocolate dessert, it was pretty wonderful.