The crisp is a comforting and homey dessert. I remember my grandmother occasionally surprised us with a crisp made from canned cherry pie filling, a crunchy-brown sugar top, and a big old scoop of Cool Whip. It was devoured by our huge family, and I worshiped it, but I am now looking for a more natural version, made with less processed ingredients.
First order of business is to update pie filling with fresh fruit. This dessert can be made year round using whatever fruit is in season. Summertime, use plums, peaches, and nectarines and winter use apples and pears. I like to throw in a cup or two of fresh or frozen berries to liven up the flavor. You can also use all berries.
Here we use cornstarch instead of flour to slightly thicken the filling. Instead of syrupy sweet fruit, the juices are thin and more natural, allowing the pure taste of the fruit to shine. If you prefer a thicker filling add an additional tablespoon of cornstarch.
The topping is sweet and crunchy. There is just enough salt to lift the flavor and the perfect amount of sugar to balance the fruit. This crisp recipe involve cutting the cold butter into the dry ingredients with a food processor (or pastry fork), making small pea-sized pieces. The result is a topping with lumpy, fat, buttery crumbs that, once baked, are stellar over baked fruit.
You may add nuts to the crumble topping but I leave the nuts out and serve the crisp with Toasted Almond gelato. It’s amazing. Vanilla ice cream is also delicious.
Crisps are great served in a large casserole for a family style dessert, but if you want something special for company, bake them in individual ramekins. Smaller desserts will cook in 20-25 minutes.
6 cups mixed fruit (apples, pears, stone fruit, berries)
1/4 cup organic evaporated cane juice (granulated sugar)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup chopped nuts, optional
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cubed
Filling: Peel fruit. To peel peaches and stone fruit, make a cross hatch mark at the bottom point of the fruit using a sharp knife. Place the fruit in simmering water for a few minutes until the fruit softens and skin loosens. Remove the fruit to a bowl filled with ice water until cold enough to handle. Remove from water. At this point skins will easily peel off fruit if you cooked it for long enough. Cut in half, remove pit, and cut fruit into thin slices and place in a large bowl. Add berries, cornstarch, sugar, salt, and lemon zest and stir to combine. Pour into a butter smeared glass or stone bakeware piece, a vessel large enough to fit the fruit.
For Topping: Combine oats, brown sugar, flour, optional nuts, and spices in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 5x to combine. Add cold butter cubes and pulse until butter is incorporated, 8-10 1 second pulses. Use your hands to clump the mixture together and crumble evenly over the surface of the fruit. At this point you can refrigerate this for an hour or two before baking.
Preheat oven to 350. Cook crisp for 35-40 minutes, until top is golden and crunchy and fruit is bubbling. Allow to stand for 5 minutes then eat hot, warm, or at room temperature. Serve with good quality vanilla ice cream.