For people who can't survive without sweets, now is a good time to attack the habit. Fresh fruit is plentiful into the fall and healthier sweet treats like the following are easily made.
Fruit soups can be served as a light first course, or a dessert. Apricot-Nut Tea Loaf is a great anytime snack.
EARLY AUTUMN FRUIT SOUP (Makes 5 cups)
1 pound ripe cooking apples and/or pears
1 quart water
Strips of peel from 1/4 lemon and 1/4 orange
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
3 tablespoons light honey
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Juice from 1 orange
Cut apples and/or pears into chunks. Place in a pan (cores, peel and all) with a quart of water.
Use a potato peeler to take a strip from the orange and lemon peel; use a zester or fine grater to take zest from the rest of the orange to make 1/2 teaspoon. Juice the orange and lemon and combine the orange zest and juices, setting them aside. Add the strips of orange and lemon peel to the cooking soup and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the fruit is soft.
Remove strips of rind and put the soup through a food mill or strainer. Mix the cornstarch with cold water and stir it into the pure'e. Add honey and cardamom.
Return soup to clean pan, bring to a boil again, then lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Allow it to cool slightly, then add grated orange rind, lemon and orange juices. Chill and serve with a dollop of yogurt or a thin slice of orange on top.
APRICOT NUT BREAD (Makes one 8-by-4-inch cake or 12 muffins)
1 cup dried apricots
2 cups very hot water
1/3 cup honey
3 tablespoons oil
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/4 cups water
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat bread flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
Soften apricots in hot water. Drain, saving 1 1/4 cups liquid to use for the water measure in the bread. Beat honey, oil and cinnamon with a fork. Stir in the water. Sift dry ingredients together, adding wheat germ at the end. Add dry to liquid ingredients, mixing only enough to combine thoroughly. Fold in the apricots and nuts. Spoon batter into a greased 8-by-4-inch loaf pan or 12 greased muffin tins. Bake at 350 degrees, 45 to 55 minutes for the loaf, about 20 minutes for the muffins