Guilt-free holiday treats

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California Raisins 1

PRIOR to working with California Raisins, pastry chef Michael Aspiras avoided eating raisins. “Before, I didn’t actually like eating raisins. It grew on me because it’s a treat whenever you eat it,” Mr. Aspiras told BusinessWorld. It was not until his partnership with California Raisins, accompanied by his and the company’s further research on raisins’ nutritional benefits that he realized that it was a good alternative for sugar in recipes.

California Raisins is a naturally sweet product of sun-dried raisins from San Joaquin Valley, California. It is fat- and cholesterol-free and low in sodium. California Raisins collaborated with Mr. Aspiras to create holiday recipes to add to a healthful feast for Noche Buena and Christmas parties.

In his demonstration at the New World Hotel, Makati City on Nov. 20, Mr. Aspiras prepared California Raisin Bombolini, a bread recipe with California Raisins rum chantilly and crispy topping. The pureed and chunks of California Raisin gives the pastry an ample flavor of sweetness.

California Raisins 2
Pastry chef Michael Aspiras

The second recipe called California Raisin Modern Christmas Cake with crispy California Raisin and chocolate dip coating gives a fruity flavor perfect for a holiday dessert.

At first Mr. Aspiras said that it was challenging to accept and prepare the recipes with raisins instead of sugar. “I actually manipulated the recipes and used very little sugar and replaced it with raisins […] Before, I’d make these two recipes with sugar. But now, I realized that when I replaced it with raisins, it lends itself well because it’s chewy, it didn’t lose the crispness. It did not alter the texture and it actually improved,” Mr. Aspiras said.

“It’s very important to be innovative, but you have to balance it with what people like.” He also added that eating raisins is guilt-free compared to indulging on sweets that we would regret consuming afterwards. When asked about his advice to non-raisin eaters, he said, “Just give it a try.” — Michelle Anne P. Soliman