Prunes do a lot more in the kitchen than promote digestive health.
Cut fat while adding fiber and more nutrients to baked goods with pureed prunes. It’s the fiber that makes the difference.
Prunes contain 3.3 grams of fiber per 100 grams of fruit. How does fiber sub for fat? In baked goods, fiber holds air bubbles that help create “lift.” Leavening such as baking soda or baking powder releases carbon dioxide during baking and that inflates those air bubbles. The result is a lighter texture that also fools the mouth; it “feels” like fat, not fiber, to our tongues.
Before adding prune puree to every cake or quick bread, remember that prunes add their own strong flavor and color. Its dark purple hue fits a brownie, but doesn’t look as appealing in a yellow cake.
To make puree, process 1 cup pitted prunes (about 6 ounces) with 6 tablespoons hot water in a food processor until smooth. That makes 1 cup pureed prunes.
This Fudgy Chocolate Cake makes the most of prunes’ fat-cutting power while retaining their moistness. Instead of making puree, chopped prunes are simmered on the stovetop before adding to the batter. But the effect is the same: A lighter dessert with lots of rich taste but less guilt. (And it’s good for you, too.)
Sunsweet Growers, the nation’s major prune processor, also offers many prune recipes on its website, www.sunsweet.com.
Fudgy Chocolate Cake
From Sunsweet Growers
1 (9 ounce) bag pitted prunes, chopped
3/4 cup water
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1/4 cup heart-healthy buttery spread (such as Smart Balance), softened
1/2 cup fat-free milk
1 teaspoon almond extract
4 egg whites
1 cup flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Melted raspberry jam and warmed chocolate fudge sauce (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring prunes and water to a boil in a small saucepan; reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until mixture is very thick and liquid has been absorbed; let cool. Spray a 9-inch springform pan liberally with nonstick cooking spray, then coat with 2 tablespoons sugar, shaking out excess. Beat together remaining sugar, buttery spread, milk, extract, egg whites and prunes in a medium bowl for 3 minutes on high speed with an electric mixer. Beat in dry ingredients on low speed, then beat for a few minutes on high to make a light batter. Spread in prepared pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
To serve, drizzle serving plates with a little melted jam, add slice of cake and drizzle with chocolate.