The Ad-Libbers Guide to Desserts

Not too long ago I had some friends over for dinner, and made a spur-of-the moment apple crisp, using what I had on hand:  local apples (hey, it’s Washington state), dried cranberries (a key local industry), fresh lime juice and walnuts (just because). The topping was a catch-as-catch-can mix of oatmeal, brown sugar, raisins, flour, butter, and a pinch of apple pie spice.  So far so good. 

From my tree in Ocean Park, Washington

But desserts like this really cry out for vanilla ice cream. Or whipped cream.  Something. That’s kind of a given, right? Especially when you have company, right?

But since some of us (ahem) really shouldn’t indulge, I dithered around while I was peeling the apples and scrounging around for stuff to use in the topping.

Should I run to the store for ice cream? When I know full well that I’ll just eat whatever is left, which I definitely should not do? Should I just serve the dessert naked, pretending I don’t know any better?

In the end I did what I’ve become very accustomed to – scrounge through the refrigerator for something I could ad-lib with. And here’s what I found: a container of mascarpone from an earlier dinner party, with about half a cup left, and an open container of plain yogurt, with approximately the same amount.

I set the yogurt to drain in a sieve lined with a coffee filter while the crisp was baking. Then, just before my friends arrived, I added that yogurt to the mascarpone, sprinkled on a bit of confectioner’s sugar, and a drop of vanilla extract, and mixed it all together. 

OK, I can say it: it was fantastic.  

Mascarpone, if perchance you’re not familiar, is an Italian cream cheese with a very soft texture. In this case, the undertaste of cheese was just the right thing to go with apples. The yogurt is tangy, of course, but the sugar and vanilla softened that. And the combination of tastes – rich but not too rich, sweet but not too sweet, with that surprising hint of cheese – made it just plain perfect. 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email