Organic dried fruit is grown and processed without pesticides or herbicides and often doesn’t include the high dose of preservatives and colorings that conventional versions get. In many cases, organic dried fruits also have less added sugar, making them lower in calories than their non-organic sisters. Plus, the naturally sweet flavor makes these healthy treats the perfect dessert ingredient. If you’re not sure how to begin, you can always start with raisins, the most familiar dried fruit, and work your way up to one of these creative twists:
1. Banana Split
If you dream of ice cream sundaes, then this is the dessert for you. Start out with a layer of dried banana along the bottom of your bowl or plate. Scoop three different flavors of frozen yogurt or ice-cream in a row on top. Drizzle on chocolate syrup and squirt on some whipped cream or non-dairy whipped topping. Sprinkle with chopped dried bananas and chopped walnuts. If available, top with a few dried cherries.
2. Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies
Oatmeal raisin cookies are a mainstay of every bake sale, but, when you swap out the raisins and substitute dried cranberries, you’ve got a whole new dessert. Use your favorite oatmeal-raisin cookie recipe and simply replace the raisins with an equal amount of dried cranberries. Cranberries have a tartness that raisins lack and combined with the sweetness of the cookie dough, these are sure to please.
3. Berry Parfait
Parfaits are rich and creamy and melt in your mouth. Start out with a tall glass and add a layer of fresh vanilla yogurt to the bottom. In a separate bowl, whisk together strawberry jam and just enough water to make it the consistency of syrup. Drizzle a bit of the syrup on top of the yogurt. Chop dried blueberries and strawberries into raisin-sized morsels and layer in the mixed fruit. Sprinkle with almond granola cereal and repeat the layers until you’ve reached the top of the glass. Or, try a mixed-fruit version using dried apples and peaches.
4. Dried Fruit Fondue
Fruit with chocolate is a dessert match made in heaven. Melt chocolate in a fondue pot and dip in some exotic dried fruits. The delicate taste of dried apricots pairs together perfectly with the molten chocolate. The tang of dried pineapple complements the sweetness of the sauce. And, if you have access to a specialty store, dried kiwi dipped in chocolate is surprisingly tasty. But be warned, when using dried fruit in a fondue dish, double check the ingredients to make sure there’s no added sugar—otherwise the combination might be too sweet.
5. Chocolate Raspberry Brownies
Adding dried raspberries to a traditional brownie recipe or prepared mix is easy and adds a whole new dimension to these home baked treats. Chop the raspberries into small chocolate-chip-sized pieces and toss in 1 to 2 tbsp. of cool water. Let the raspberries soak up the water and dump out any remaining liquid. Mix into the batter before pouring into the pan to bake.