If you love to bake but are aiming to cut calories or add to the nutritional value of your baked goods, learning to make a fruit juice reduction will be a valuable tool to add to your baking repertoire. They're easy and quick to make, and you won't have to sacrifice taste or turn to man-made sugar substitutes that can leave an odd texture or aftertaste. When you're trying juice reductions for the first time, stick to frozen apple or white grape juices. They are a "safe" way to start for nearly any kind of dessert and they'll add a subtle yet delicious dose of healthy, sweet flavor that won't overpower the dish. Once you get comfortable with making and baking with juice reductions, you can experiment with a variety of juices based on the type of dessert to add some unique and complementary hints of flavor.
Juice reductions aren't just for baked goods, either. "Meal Makeover Mom" Janice Newell Bissex, MS, RD, suggests using a fruit juice reduction on top of pancakes and waffles as a healthy alternative to maple syrup. You can also try drizzling a warm juice reduction over frozen yogurt or low-fat ice cream in place of chocolate syrup.
Keep in mind that in order for it to settle properly, a juice reduction must be completely cooled to at least room temperature before you add it to your dessert's ingredients, so account for the necessary cooling time before you begin baking. You can also make reductions up to a week in advance.
If you prefer to make your juice reduction the old-fashioned way, start by placing one can of frozen juice in a medium-size pot and bringing it to a full boil. Calculate one frozen can per cup of reduction. Continue to boil until the contents are literally reduced to one cup. (Recipes that call for more will require more cans of frozen juice.)
Juice reductions can also be microwaved using a one-quart glass container so that you can monitor the "countdown" to reduction. Set the microwave on high and periodically check the progress until the reduced amount measures one cup. Depending on the strength of your microwave, this process will take anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes.
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