Caramlizing fruit is a “knock-em-dead” way to make a quick dessert and to use up fruit that has been languishing a bit too long in the fruit bowl. Bananas, pears or apples, take well to this treatment. The recipe is very flexible, according to size and amount. Since I keep heavy cream in the refrigerator, it is easy for me as well. (Heavy cream has a very long refrigerator life, so this is easier than it sounds.)

The fruit can also be put over a pancake, crepe or pie shell. It can even go over vanilla ice cream, without the heavy cream. The trick is using a hot saute or frying pan slightly larger than the total amount of cut up fruit, so the sugars in the fruit caramelize rather than turn to mush.

Nathalie Dupree is the author of 13 cookbooks, most recently the James Beard award-winning “Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking.” She lives in Charleston and may be reached through

Quick Caramelized Fruit

Serves 2 to 4


1 to 2 pears, apples or bananas, or a combination

1 to 2 tablespoons butter

1 to 2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)


Slice the fruit (peeled as necessary) into 6 or 8 wedges or slices removing any core and seeds. Melt the butter in a heavy frying pan until hot and singing. Add the fruit in one layer and cook for one to two minutes on the first side, until the butter and the fruit begin to brown. Sprinkle with sugar as desired and turn with a metal spatula. Cook on the second side until the fruit is lightly browned and caramelized. Sprinkle with sugar. Add the cream to the pan and continue to cook until the fruit is soft and the cream has boiled down by half, about five minutes. (If the fruit is already soft when the cream is added, remove them before adding the cream, boil up the cream and then pour the warm cream over the fruit.)