A plate of fresh fruit and cheese is a delightful way to cap off a summer meal. But add some heat, honey and herbs to that basic pairing and you wind up with a sensuous, out-of-the-ordinary dessert that has a real wow factor.
In the accompanying recipe, the heat of the grill warms ripe plum halves just enough to caramelize them a bit and release their juices while the char that forms on their cut sides gives them a slightly savory flair.
Pretty much any large stone fruit, such as peaches or nectarines, would work as a substitute. The key is to use whatever looks and smells the most beautifully fresh and ripe. The fruit is served warm, or at room temperature, with goat cheese -- but not the usual, plain goat cheese. Here, chevre is whipped with honey and a dash of milk into a smooth, dollop-able cream and then chilled, so its texture resembles a dense whipped cream. It tastes rich and lightly sweet, with the intriguing undertone of the distinctively grassy cheese.
Each plum half is topped with a dollop of the cream, punctuated with a plump blackberry and finished with a drizzle of honey, lemon juice and fresh thyme. The herb adds a unique floral essence and is a pleasant element of surprise because thyme is more typically associated with savory dishes than dessert. Basil or mint would work well, too, when you want to switch it up.
The result is a fruit-and-cheese plate taken to new heights, one that is at once sweet, savory, earthy and heavenly.
• Ellie Krieger is a registered dietitian, nutritionist and author who hosts public television's "Ellie's Real Good Food." She blogs and offers a weekly newsletter at www.elliekrieger.com.