Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Berry-cherry crisp

When it comes to pleasing the palate vs. pleasing the eye, I can't necessarily choose — cooking and making jewelry are both satisfying creative pursuits. So, today's post is my unofficial ode to the fruit crisp. I have a limited repertoire, but I do love my crisps: berry in the summer, apple in the fall. Smooth and crunchy, tart and sweet, hot and cold, the fruit crisp is everything I could ask for in a dessert. Plus, it bears repeating that there's fruit in it. And ice cream. So, you're getting vitamins and calcium, the double whammy (or, two whammies, as a friend calls them) of nutrition.

First of all, forgive my photo. It would have benefited from a dollop of ice cream. Here's the "before" picture. Not being a food stylist, I plopped a huge scoop of Haagen Dazs vanilla on the crisp, and the poor thing imploded under the weight of it. You'll have to use your imagination to garnish the piece and trust me that the dessert tastes better than it looks.

Blackberries, strawberries, and cherries were on sale, so I bought some and decided to try my dessert in 90-degree weather. I found this recipe a few years ago in a cookbook I gave as a gift (if I can find the original, I'll add a comment to the post). Anyway, I modified the filling part of the recipe because I prefer my crisps very tart — tasting of fruit rather than sugar — with sweetness coming from ice cream or fresh whipped cream. Since I've been asked for this recipe, I thought I'd post it here. That way, I'll have it handy forever. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject, especially if you have a secret ingredient or know a quick way to pit cherries.

Here's some stuff I learned along the way:

1. Raspberries don't work well — too delicate and juicy.
2. Blackberries and strawberries work great. They're yummy, pretty, and their texture holds up to baking.
3. If you forget to mix the nuts into the topping, you can still sprinkle them on top just before putting the crisp in the oven. (I just discovered that this weekend. See photo for errant nuts.) Just make sure you don't overbake.
4. Not sure how I feel about the cherries. The Bings taste awesome, but they're kind of chewy.
5. I love topping, which is why I prefer only 4 cups of fruit. The original recipe called for 6 cups.
6. Try serving the crisp in mugs or ramekins. If you use plates, it's hard to scoop up the melty ice cream and leftover fruit syrup.

Fruit Crisp
Topping:
1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (toast in a skillet for about 6 minutes)
2/3 cup old-fashioned oats
2/3 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
4 Tbsp. ice-cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Filling:
4–5 cups fruit
1/4 cup sugar
1 generous Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. orange juice

Combine the oats, flour, sugar, and spices. Scatter the butter over the top. Use your fingers to blend the butter into the mixture. Add nuts.

Combine the fruit. In a small bowl, blend sugar, flour, and orange juice till dissolved. Blend with the fruit. Spoon the fruit mixture into an 8-inch baking dish. Sprinkle the topping on and press lightly.

Bake in a 375-degree oven until the top is browned and the fruit is tender, 30-40 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes before serving.

1 comment:

Jean said...

Now I am STARVING! That is a great recipe!!!
Off to buy some fruit!

...and ice cream!!!