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Grilled fruit delicious end to barbecue meal

Joan Brunskill Associated Press

Here’s a delectable way to literally wrap up your summer grilling menu: a simple but stylish dessert that makes smart use of the hot coals left after the steaks are done.

Preparation of these fruit servings “en papillote,” folded in a package (in this case foil packages) can be done hours in advance. Vary the combinations of fruits and aromatics according to your taste and the summer’s bounty, says the recipe’s creator, Michael Laiskonis, 32, a native of Michigan who is executive pastry chef at Le Bernardin, the renowned New York City restaurant.

This isn’t a dessert from the restaurant’s menu, Laiskonis explained in an interview. It’s a favorite thing he likes to make off-duty. But he says the inspiration came from a professional occasion, when he and Eric Ripert, Le Bernardin’s executive chef and co-owner, were preparing an event in Miami last winter. All the food for the event was to be cooked outside, and that prompted the creation of this dessert.

There’s a long tradition of cooking food en papillote, Laiskonis said, and it’s ideal for grilling. “I’m surprised people don’t do it more often.”

An advantage of the method, besides the way it holds in and intensifies juices and flavor, is that the dessert can be mostly prepared ahead. “That’s part of the design of the recipe, so that you’re not really fussing with anything at the last minute,” Laiskonis says. You can prepare the packages the night before, refrigerate and then take them out, to back yard or picnic, beach or park – and all that’s left to do is just throw them on the grill.

Use whatever fruit as you like, Laiskonis says. He likes cherries and apricots as long as they’re in season, or peaches. In Florida, he said, they added mango and banana; you could try adding lime juice, ginger and different herbs, he suggested.

“As a pastry chef, usually my work is a very exact science,” Laiskonis commented, “so it’s nice to be able to vary a recipe like this.”

Grilled Fruit ‘en Papillote’

Recipe from Michael Laiskonis, executive pastry chef, Le Bernardin, New York City

6 rectangles of aluminum foil, each 8-by-12 inches

6 small apricots, halved and pitted

1/2 pineapple, peeled, cored, sliced, cut into chunks

18 Bing cherries, pitted

1/4 cup, shelled, toasted pistachio nuts

3 vanilla beans, split and halved

6 cinnamon sticks

6 teaspoons brown sugar

6 teaspoons unsalted butter, room temperature

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Ice cream or sorbet, in flavor of your choice, for topping

Lay out each sheet of aluminum foil and arrange tightly in the center of each square 2 apricot halves, 4 or 5 five chunks of pineapple, and 3 cherries. Add 1 tablespoon of pistachio nuts, 1/2 vanilla bean, and 1 cinnamon stick. Top the fruit with 1 teaspoon each brown sugar and butter, finishing with a grind of black pepper, to taste.

To close each package, bring the two longer sides together and make two or three tight folds over, about half an inch each. Then roll up the shorter sides to form a tight package around the fruit. Take care not to puncture the foil, as the primary means of cooking will be by that of steam; you also want to preserve all the juices that are created.

To cook on a conventional charcoal grill, place the papillotes onto the grill, if possible adjusting the grate to allow maximum space between the coals. Close the lid and allow to “grill-roast” about 10 to 15 minutes.

For a gas grill, ensure that the grill temperature is at least 400 degrees and place the papillotes on the highest rack. Turn off the gas, close the lid and allow the packages to cook from the residual heat, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Allow packages to cool slightly. Transfer to a bowl or plate and top with a scoop of your favorite ice cream or sorbet.

Yield: 6 servings

Approximate nutrition per serving: Unable to calculate due to recipe variables.

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