Fruit Crisps A to Z (Apple to Zucchini)-Summer

Sunday August 21, 2016

If you truly want to make an apple pie (or crisp) from scratch, you must first create the universe.” – Carl Sagan

About Fruit Crisps and Crumbles

If there is a dessert that appeals to all levels of bakers alike, beginning or experienced, country or city, old or young, it is the fruit crisp.  It is a fruit preparation that is as American as apple pie. You will never find an old fashioned crisp in a commercial bakery, it too much of a homey treat.

For how magnetic their satisfying appeal, there is rarely more than one or two recipes for fresh fruit crisps available in one cookbook, despite how many types of fruits can be prepared in this manner. The one cookbook writer who includes a crisp in almost every book is Ina Garten. So I set off to collect a few recipes and years later I find I have a remarkable collection from which to choose that I can share with you. Every time I found a new crisp, I popped it into my file. The collection just grew and even though it is a bit of work to find anything more than an apple or peach crisp, it ends up that almost every fruit, whether exotic or humble, tropical or temperate climate, takes well to this manner of preparation.

Here I am including recipes for all manner of crisps that I have been making over the years, probably the most you will ever find collected in one place.  Each one has a ever so slightly different proportioned topping, varying in texture, amount, and ingredients. There is also a few recipes designed for two diners and one, enough to feed a large crowd for a party. There is even a crisp baked over an outdoor grill.

The beginning baker is attracted to an old-fashioned fruit crisp as much as a seasoned one; they are fun to make, ordinary fruit is transformed and they go together in minutes without any laborious fussiness. You don’t have to get any fancy ingredients, you can use a baking pan that is found in even the most modest of kitchens, and your oven can be 50 degrees off, and you can still bake a perfect crisp.

Crisps are essentially deep-dish fruit pies, a good two to three inches of cooked fruit filling, without the fuss of a top or bottom crust. It sports a top coat layer of enticingly-sweet flour, sugar, and butter crumbs called a streusel.  Sometimes a crisp will be called a crumble, which is simply the English version containing rolled oats in the topping, which, of course, give a different texture than one made with just flour.

Crisps are the dessert to showcase seasonal fruit–apples and pears year round; throughout the winter cranberries, oranges, and persimmons; then berries, peaches, and plums in the summer months. They may be made with a single fruit or in combination, such as rhubarb and strawberries, although the most common crisp is made exclusively of apples or orchard stone fruits.  A mixture of fresh and frozen fruits work as well, too. You might come across some very creative crisps made with tropical fruits, like pineapple and mango (one of my favorite combinations is apple and mango), or fruits you would not normally associate with baking, like oranges, coconut, or crisp Fuyu persimmons. Frozen or canned or dried fruits work just as well as fresh, but crisps are definitely the way to utilize seasonal offerings or a glut of home grown fruit.

Always think of creating a sense of balance, considering the texture as well as the taste.  You can flavor the fruit or topping with caramel, almond paste, even lavender or coconut.  What you are striving for is to blend the degree of sour-sweet flavor of the fruit with the sweetness of the topping, so stay aware of the sweetness of the fruit and how much sugar you have in your topping so the finished baked crisp will have an overall flavor balance and won’t be too sweet.  I find most crisps need no added sugar in the fruit if you need to pay attention to having the least amount of sweetening.

Streusels are made in a variety of proportions to vary the texture, creating toppings that range from sugary-encrusted to cakey-soft thick crumbs.  The topping can be quite crispy thin or a few inches thick, more assertive than a cobbler biscuit topping. It can be made the day ahead and stored, covered, in the refrigerator until the fruit is prepared, waiting and ready to be sprinkled in a delicious layer over your fruit.  I keep plastic containers full of these toppings in the freezer; just make double or triple the recipe and stash the extra.  They keep perfectly fresh for months; a crisp goes together very fast if the topping is ready.

Crisps may be fully assembled and refrigerated a few hours ahead, then baked just before serving time.  During baking the streusel will seep down and help thicken the natural fruit juices released during the heat of baking, although soft juicy fruits (like berries) will need extra thickening.

I have included crumb topped pies, the sibling to the crisp, with their bottom crust, that little bit more special than two crust pies, and a few crumb top bar cookies. I have also included recipes from many home cooks, TV celebrity chefs, food magazines, and restaurants.

No time to fuss with crusts and still want some wonderful make ahead dessert? There is a scrumputuous seasonal crisp topped with a spiced crunchy topping to pop in the freezer. Crisps can be baked frozen, so be sure to have a freezer-to-oven ceramic baking dish or pie plate (such as Emile Henry or Le Creuset) that will also look lovely on the table. Make a crisp or two and keep them in the freezer and you will always have a fabulous dessert an hour away.

Serve a crisp at its peak, the day it is made, warm or at room temperature with lightly whipped cream, a pitcher of heavy cream, whipped crème fraîche, a scoop of ice cream or frozen yogurt, or just plain, whatever you like. There are the elements of homey and comfort that is unmatched in other desserts. The simplicity of the preparation lets the native fruit shine through.

Store any leftovers in the refrigerator and devour the cold or reheated remainders the next day. When I worked in the bakery, it was a favorite treat at 6am.

Calendar-Summer

JULY: Oregon blueberries; loganberries; boysenberries; first crop of dried apricots; Bing and Lambert cherries; muskmelons; nectarines; passion fruits; red currants; plums; red and yellow raspberries; freestone and white peaches; Green Gage plums; strawberries; pawpaws; watermelons; zucchini; summer squash; tomatoes; fresh green chile peppers; Canadian rye harvest; Midwest, Washington, Oregon, and New York soft winter wheat harvest; dill; herbs in bloom; Roasa rugosa rosehips

AUGUST: berries; muskmelons; nectarines; freestone and white peaches; the first dried apricots; passion fruits; crab apples; Santa Rosa and Burbank plums; red and yellow raspberries; Thompson seedless and Champagne grapes; Cardona and Amarilla prickly pear fruits; fresh Italian prune harvest; zucchini and yellow summer squash; tomatoes; sweet white and yellow table corn; Midwest oat harvest; North Dakota and Colorado millet harvest

SEPTEMBER: the first homegrown Rome Beauty apples and Red Bartlett pears; late strawberries; late crop figs; Asian pears; mangoes, local Concord and Muscat grapes; wine harvest; melons; loquats; lemons; late summer squashes and tomatoes; pumpkin and sunflower seeds; California passion fruits; table corn; Mission and Ascalano olives; Minnesota, Idaho, and California machine and hand-harvested wild rice; Canadian, North Dakota, and Montana hard spring and durum wheat harvest (the best for breads and pastas); New York soft spring wheat harvest; New Mexico white corn harvest; Oregon oat harvest; Nebraska popcorn; Colorado quinoa harvest; California San Joaquin Valley white, red, and durum wheat harvest; North Dakota buckwheat harvest

Apple Basics

In Season: Apple-picking season begins in late August or early September and lasts through November. Because apples keep well in cold storage, they are available year-round.

What to Look For: There are thousands of apple varieties, with a range of colors including red, russet, yellow, and green. Textures and flavors vary from tart and crisp to soft and sweet. In general, choose apples that are heavy for their size and feel firm when pressed gently. Avoid bruised fruit.

How to Store: For the longest shelf life, store apples in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. Use within three weeks.

My Mom’s Apple Crisp

This is what I consider a basic crisp recipe, as well as being of of this world delicious and versatile.  If you make one recipe from this collection, let it be this one. This is the only recipe my mother uses and she varies it with all different fruits, also with a mixture of fruits if she only has a small amount of one. It is varied by the addition of nuts to the streusel, which adds lots of flavor and texture.  While walnuts, almonds, and pecans are the most convenient, hazelnuts are a real powerhouse of flavor, and macadamia nuts a true indulgence.  Each nut will give the topping a slightly different character to the finished dish, so they need to be paired with the fruit. My mom uses walnuts with the apples and varies the fruit seasonally, often switching to almonds for stone fruits and mixed berries.

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

1/2 cup nuts complementary to the fruit used, such as walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, or pecans, coarsely chopped

Filling

2 pounds (5 to 6 large) tart cooking apples, peeled, cored, quartered, and sliced 3/4-inch thick

Topping

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Instructions

Toast the nuts on an ungreased baking sheet in a 350º oven for about 5 minutes; just enough to take off the raw edge and the nuts slightly begin to color.  Cool and coarsely chop.  This can be done the day before.

Preheat the oven to 375º (350º if using Pyrex).  Place the sliced apples in an even layer into a shallow, unbuttered 9-by-13-inch baking dish or 12-inch ceramic oval gratin dish.

Place the flour, sugars, and cinnamon in a bowl.  Cut in the butter pieces with your fingers, a pastry blender, or pulse in a food processor until the mixture just holds together and looks crumbly.  Toss in the cooled nuts.  Set aside. (Can be made the day ahead and refrigerated in a covered container.)

Sprinkle the fruit evenly with all of the topping.  Bake in the center of the oven until golden brown and the fruit is bubbling and tender, 35 to 45 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

photo by karina allrich

Karina’s Gluten-Free Wheat-Free Apple Crisp

Ever since I started using quinoa cereal flakes in crisp and crumble toppings I’ve been dreaming of making an apple crisp. The texture is delightfully light. And the organic coconut oil gives it a buttery melt-in-your-mouth delicacy I haven’t enjoyed since giving up moo-cow dairy.

Ingredients:

6 apples (Macintosh, Delicious, Pink Lady, Gala or mixture)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons tapioca or arrowroot starch
Topping

1 cup quinoa flakes
3/4 cup brown rice flour
1 cup organic light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup organic coconut oil

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease the bottom and sides of an 8×11-inch gratin or baking dish with vegan buttery spread. Set aside.

Peel and core the apples. Slice them and toss into a bowl. Sprinkle with lemon juice and toss to coat. Add the maple syrup and stir. Dust with tapioca starch and stir again to coat the slices. Pour the slices into the prepared baking dish.

In a mixing bowl, combine the quinoa flakes, brown rice flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and sea salt and whisk to blend. Add the coconut oil in pieces and using a whisk or a pastry cutter, cut the coconut oil into the flour blend until you have an even, sandy mixture.

Spoon the mixture all over the top.

Bake in the center of a pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes. Cover the top loosely with a piece of foil and continue to bake for another 20 minutes or so (depends upon the size/type of apples), until the apples are fork tender and the sides of the crisp are bubbling. (The foil will help keep the topping from browning too much.)

Allow the crisp to cool before serving- though slightly warm it is luscious. We had leftover apple crisp the next day, chilled, right out of the fridge, and Darling it was fabulous cold, too. It tasted like apple pie.

Serves 8.

Apple Raspberry Crisp with White Chocolate Whipped Cream

Serves 6

Ingredients

3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

2 1/2 pounds (about 7 large) tart cooking apples, peeled, cored, and sliced 3/4- inch thick

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen unthawed unsweetened raspberries

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons apple juice

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon flour

White Chocolate Whipped Cream

6 ounces white chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups cold whipping cream

2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375º.  Place the flour, sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl.  Cut in the butter pieces with your fingers, a pastry blender, or in a food processor until the mixture just holds together and looks crumbly.  Set aside or refrigerate in a covered container.  Can be made the day ahead.

Place the apples and raspberries in a shallow ungreased 9-by-13-inch baking dish or 12-inch ceramic gratin dish.  Sprinkle with the lemon juice and apple juice.  Add the sugar and flour and toss to evenly coat the fruit.  Cover the fruit evenly with the topping.

Bake in the center of the oven until golden brown and the fruit is bubbling and tender, 35 to 40 minutes.  Let cool on a wire rack and serve warm or at room temperature and serve with a mound of White Chocolate Whipped Cream on the side.

To make the White Chocolate Whipped Cream, combine the chips and 1/2 cup cream in the top of a double boiled or in a Pyrex measuring cup.  Melt the mixture over hot (not simmering) water or microwave for 1 minute.  Let stand until tepid at room temperature.

In a chilled bowl with an electric mixer, whip the remaining cream and sugar until soft peaks form.  On medium-low speed, pour in the melted, tepid chocolate and beat until soft peaks form again; this happens quickly so take care not to overbeat. Cover and refrigerate up to 4 hours. Makes about 3 cups.

Gluten-Free Apple Crisp

SERVES 12

Autumn is the season for baking with fresh apples. This gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free apple crisp is not only tasty – it’s cozy comfort food, the ideal dessert for chilly weather. The sweet, crunchy crust complements the slightly tart flavor of the apples. Pre-cooking the apples before baking insures a perfect dessert every time.

Ingredients

3 pounds (about 6-7) Golden Delicious apples

2 tablespoons lemon juice

¼ cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons coconut oil or oil of choice

½ cup unsweetened applesauce

Topping

8 tablespoons butter or dairy-free substitute of choice

1 cup gluten-free flour blend of choice (or ½ cup brown rice flour + ¼ cup tapioca

starch/flour + ¼ cup potato starch)

1 cup certified gluten-free rolled oats or uncooked quinoa flakes

¼ cup brown sugar

¼ cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup unsalted toasted sunflower seeds**

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Lightly grease an 11×13-inch baking dish. Set aside.

2. Peel and core the apples. Slice them into ¼ to ½-inch wedges and place them in a bowl. Add lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon and toss well to coat.

3. Place oil in a skillet. Set burner to medium heat and toss in apple mixture. Stir gently until apples and sugar start to caramelize, about 2 minutes. Add the applesauce and cook for 10 minutes until tender. Pour cooked apples into prepared baking dish.

4. To prepare topping, melt butter and pour into a bowl. Add remaining topping ingredients and mix well to combine. Sprinkle topping over cooked apple mixture.

5. Place baking dish in preheated oven and bake on middle rack for 20 to 25 minutes or until top turns golden brown.

6. Remove from oven and cool slightly. Serve warm by spooning apple crisp onto individual dessert plates or refrigerate for several hours and cut into squares.

**TIP To toast raw sunflower seeds, place in a skillet over medium heat and stir until golden brown.

Mango Crisp

Mangoes are considered the apple of the tropics. The mangos we buy here in the U.S. come mostly from Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Guatemala and Haiti. Fortunately for us, these countries harvest their mango crops at different times of the year, which means we get to enjoy mangos all year round. The mango year has two seasons, one in the spring/summer and one in the fall/winter. The two seasons overlap to provide a year-round supply.

Many mango varieties have been cultivated in South Florida, as part of a seedling program initiated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and spearheaded by David Fairchild, founder of USDA’s Section of Foreign Seed and Plant Introduction. The program focused on introducing mango varieties to the region, with the goal of producing mangos that could be exported. Today, many of the popular varieties of mango grown around the world were derived from this program in Florida, including the Tommy Atkins, Haden, Keitt, and Kent. In fact, the Haden was a seedling of the Mulgoba, a seedling brought to Florida by the USDA from India during the late 1800s.

Ingredients

For Topping:

1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
2 tbsp finely chopped crystallized ginger
1/3 cup cold butter

For Fruit:

6 cups sliced ripe mango (about 3 – 4 mangoes, depending on size)
1 1/2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 (or more) cup packed brown sugar (approx)
2 tbsp flour

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a 2-quart (8-inch-square) baking dish
2. Prepare the topping: In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, nutmeg, and crystallized ginger. Cut in cold butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside
3. Toss the mango with the lime juice. Combine sugar and flour, and toss with fruit. Taste and adjust sweetness if desired. Spread fruit in the prepared dish.
4. Sprinkle topping evenly over fruit. Bake in preheated oven for about 40 – 50 minutes, until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is crisp and lightly browned. Serve warm.

Apple Mango Crisp

Ingredients

Nonstick cooking spray
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
1/2 cup packed brown sugar or brown sugar substitute equivalent to 1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
4 Granny Smith apples
2 red sweet apples (such as Gala, Rome Beauty, or Fuji)
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 mangoes, pitted, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup chopped pecans
Light whipped dessert topping or low-fat vanilla frozen yogurt (optional)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 degree F. Coat two 1-1/2- or 2-quart baking dishes or a 3-quart rectangular baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, stir together 1/2 cup of the flour, the oats, wheat germ, brown sugar or brown sugar substitute, and cinnamon. Stir in the melted butter; set aside.
Core the apples; chop apples and place in a very large bowl. Sprinkle apples with the lime juice; stir. Stir in the remaining 1/4 cup flour. Fold in the mangoes.
Place the apple-mango mixture in the baking dish(es). Sprinkle the flour-oat mixture evenly over the top(s). Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Sprinkle crisp with pecans; bake for 10 to 15 minutes more or until the apples are tender. Cool slightly. Serve warm. If desired, top individual servings with whipped topping or frozen yogurt. Makes 16 servings

Loquat Apple Crumble

Ingredients

4 cups loquats deseeded and quartered
4 apples peeled and sliced
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 tbsp lemon juice
Topping

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats
½ cup cold butter
1½ cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Instructions

Preheat oven to /375°F.
Butter a 9 inch baking pan.
In a bowl, toss together the sliced apples, loquats and mix the vanilla and lemon juice until coated. Spread evenly across the greased baking dish.
In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients together then cut in the butter using a fork or a pastry cutter until it forms a crumbly mixture. I find it’s easier to mix by hand, rubbing the ingredients with my fingers until it forms soft crumbs.
Sprinkle overtop the apple loquat mixture in the dish. Bake for about 35 minutes or until the fruit is bubbly and the topping is lightly browned. Let cool slightly before serving with vanilla ice-cream or creme fraiche.

From my Garden: A Loquat Crisp

If you don’t have a backyard tree, you may never have had a loquat.  They’re a fruit that’s related to the quince and the apple that originated in China.  They are small ( about the size of a large walnut), orange, and juicy, with large (but very pretty) seeds.  I had a tree in my yard and I didnt know what to do with them. And when your loquat tree is bearing, you have a wealth of loquats. (If you can beat the squirrels to them.) Serves: 4

Ingredients

3 heaping cups loquats, peeled, seeded and roughly halved or quartered
1 cup sugar, divided use
2 Tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
¾ cup all purpose flour
½ cup unsalted chopped macadamia nuts
pinch sea salt
½ cup cold unsalted butter

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Toss the loquats with the ginger and ¼ cup of the sugar. Pile into a 9-inch pie plate.
Combine the remaining ¾ cup sugar with the flour and salt and macadamia nuts. Cut in the butter using a pastry blender (or a food processor on pulse), until the mixture resembles wet sand.
Sprinkle over the fruit, and bake 35 minutes.

Lavender and Lemon Blackberry Crisp

Lavender and berries are a natural complementary food couple. Cooking with lavender flowers is somewhat of a rage right now, but there is a knack to getting the balance of the floral with the other ingredients–too much and your taste buds are overwhelmed.  Here is a recipe that is the perfect way to test the lavender flavoring in baking without too much fuss. You are going for a faint floral aroma and flavor accent, but if you know know you like a stronger flavor, use 2 teaspoons. Buy unsprayed dried lavender flowers from a spice house like Penzys rather than harvesting your own if the plants are roadside or near sprayed plants like roses.

Serves 6

Ingredients

Filling

2/3 cup sugar, or few tablespoons more to taste

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 1/2 pints (12-ounces each and about 3 cups each) fresh blackberries, washed and stemmed, or 7 cups frozen thawed blackberries

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Topping

2 small lemons, zest cut off in strips with a paring knife or vegetable zester, leaving the pithy white on the lemon

1 teaspoon food grade dried lavender flowers

3/4 cup sugar

l cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream, for serving

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350º (325º if using Pyrex).  Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or 2-quart ceramic dish and set aside.

Combine the sugar, flour, and cornstarch in a small bowl; stir with a fork until smooth.  Place the fruit and lemon juice in the prepared baking dish.  Toss the fruit with the sugar mixture.

In a food processor, pulse to grind the lemon zest and lavendar with 1/4 cup of the sugar. Add the remaining sugar and flour and pulse a few times. Add butter and process until the consistency of very coarse meal.  Set aside or refrigerate in a covered container.  Can be made the day ahead.

Bake in the center of the oven until lightly browned and the fruit is bubbling and tender, 35 to 40 minutes.  Cool on a rack and serve warm or at room temperature with cold heavy cream on the side, if desired.

Blackberry Crisp for One An Edible Mosaic

Yield: 1 serving

Ingredients

Blackberry Filling:
3/4 cup fresh blackberries
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon flour
Crisp Topping:
2 teaspoons butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons rolled oats
1 pinch cinnamon (optional)
Other:
1 scoop vanilla ice cream or whipped cream (optional, for serving)
Butter, to grease the pan

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375F; lightly grease an individual-sized gratin dish with butter.
Toss together all ingredients for the blackberry filling in a medium bowl, and transfer to the prepared dish.
For the topping, use a fork to cut the butter into the flour, then mix in the brown sugar; use your fingers to crumble in the rolled oats and cinnamon. Sprinkle the crumble on top of the berries.
Bake until the filling is bubbling and the crisp is browned on top, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Serve the crisp warm or at room temperature, topped with ice cream or whipped cream, if desired.

Nectarine & Blackberry Crisp Foreign Cinema

Gayle Pirie and John Clark are not big on food from the freezer, but, says Pirie, if you make triple the amount of topping, you can store what you don’t use immediately in the freezer. Your next batch of crisp will be that much easier to put together.

INGREDIENTS:

Topping Mix
1 1/3 scant cup flour
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup skin-on almonds, toasted and chopped
1 1/2 sticks chilled unsalted butter

Fruit
5 ripe nectarines
1 cup blackberries
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

To prepare the topping: Combine the flour, both sugars, the salt, cinnamon and almonds. Cut the butter into small pieces and work it into the mixture with your fingertips until the topping starts to come together and has a crumbly texture.

Yields 3 cups topping. If not used immediately, cover and refrigerate. Freeze the extra 2 cups topping for future use.

To prepare the fruit: Peel nectarines by briefly dipping each into boiling water, then shocking in an ice bath. The skin will slip right off. Cut each nectarine into 6 wedges, about 3/4- to 1-inch thick, and put in a medium bowl. Add berries, salt, and sugar; toss to mix. Drizzle optional balsamic vinegar over fruit and toss to mix. Spoon mixture into a 9-inch pie tin or small round earthenware small enough that fruit fills to the top. Sprinkle 3/4 cup of the topping over fruit.

Place on center rack of a preheated 375° oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until crust is deep golden brown and the fruit juices have begun to bubble up sides. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, if desired.Serves 4 to 6

Grace Parsi’s Mother’s PEACH-BLUEBERRY CRISP

St. Germaine liqueur, from elderberries, is relatively new, being created for Bacardi in 2007.
8 servings

Ingredients

Fruit

8 ripe peaches, peeled and cut into wedges

1 cup blueberries

½ cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons St. Germain liqueur (optional)
Topping

1 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup old fashioned rolled oats (not instant)

1/2 light brown sugar

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Crème fraiche, whipped cream or ice cream for serving

Instructions

Combine the peaches and blueberries with the granulated sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and zest and the St Germain if using.  Transfer to a medium baking dish. In another bowl, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, butter and wheat germ with a  pinch of salt until sandy. Press into small clumps and spread on a baking sheet.


Preheat the oven to 350°. Bake the fruit until juicy and soft, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, bake the streusel, stirring once, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle the streusel over the fruit and bake 10 minutes longer. Let cool slightly, then serve with crème fraiche, whipped cream or ice cream.

Blueberry Crumble with Vanilla-Oat Streusel

If you have never made a blueberry crisp before and you love berries, stand back to enjoy a real treat.  I created this recipe for a newspaper article about ten years ago. It was a very popular story. A few years ago I went to lunch at a friend’s house and I spied the homemade crumble with the mush of blue-black fruit underneath a thick layer of crumbs cooling on the counter. I was definitely looking forward to dessert.  One bite and I went into dessert heaven for a few moments.  I asked for the recipe and imagine my surprise when my hostess pulled out my very own newspaper clipping. I was thrilled to rediscover one of my favorite desserts.

Serves 6

Ingredients

Topping

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup rolled oats (quick cooking or old-fashioned)

2/3 cup packed light brown sugar

Pinch of salt

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Filling

6 cups (6 half-pint boxes) fresh blueberries

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

Juice and grated zest of 1 large lemon

Paradise Cream

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350º (325º if using Pyrex).  In a small bowl, combine the flour, oats, sugar, and salt.  Sprinkle the vanilla over the surface.  Cut in the butter pieces with your fingers, pastry cutter, or food processor until evenly moistened and soft coarse crumbs are formed.  Set aside or refrigerate in a covered container.  Can be made the day ahead.

Place the blueberries in an even layer into a buttered 10-inch pie plate, 8-inch square baking dish, or 1 1/2-quart ceramic gratin dish.  Sprinkle with the sugar, flour, cornstarch, lemon juice, and lemon zest, tossing to evenly coat the fruit.  Cover the fruit with all of the topping to make a thick layer.

Bake in the center of the oven until the berries are bubbling and the topping is golden brown, about 40 to 45 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature with some Paradise Cream.

Paradise Cream

Makes 2 1/4 cups

1 cup cold whipping cream

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup sour cream

Place the bowl and beater in the freezer for at least 1 hour to thoroughly chill.  Place the cream and sugar in the bowl.  Whip on high speed with an electric hand mixer or stand mixer with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes.  Whisk in the sour cream gently.  Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Spa Apple Blueberry Crisp

This is a fruit crisp for people who desire the least amount of sugar and fat in their diet, but still want to enjoy a delicious, satisfying dessert. The topping will have a totally different flavor due to the addition of ground graham crackers. From food wiz Jacquie Higuera McMahan.

Serves 6

Ingredients

Topping

1 cup rolled oats (quick-cooking or old fashioned)

1/2 cup ground graham crackers (about 6 crackers)

2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

1 tablespoon frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed

Filling

1 1/2 pounds (about 5 large) tart cooking apples, peeled, cored, and sliced 3/4-inch thick

1 16-ounce package frozen unthawed unsweetened blueberries

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 cup frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed

2 teaspoons arrowroot or cornstarch

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350º (325º if using Pyrex).  Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or 12-inch ceramic gratin dish and set aside.

Place the oats, graham cracker crumbs, flour, and brown sugar in a bowl.  Stir in the butter and apple juice with your fingers, a pastry blender, or in a food processor until the mixture just holds together and looks crumbly.  Set aside or refrigerate in a covered container.

Place the apples and blueberries in the prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle with the lemon juice and cinnamon, and toss to evenly coat the fruit.  In a measuring cup, whisk together the apple juice concentrate and arrowroot or cornstarch.  Microwave for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes to thicken, whisking once halfway through cooking; pour over the fruit. Cover the fruit evenly with the topping.

Bake in the center of the oven until golden brown and the fruit is bubbling and tender, 35 to 40 minutes.  Let cool on a wire rack before serving warm or at room temperature.

Mixed Fresh Berry Crisp

My mother makes crisps more than any other dessert for guests. She has an oven that is not calibrated properly and doesn’t bake cakes properly, but crisps being the type of dessert you could make in a wood-fired oven, work perfectly. Here this spring crisp takes advantage of the first raspberries, left whole, and blackberries. Look for the big box of blackberries instead of the little half-pints, otherwise you will need 4 half-pint boxes. When questioning my mom about her amounts, she replied, oh just buy all sorts of berries then pour them into a big measuring cup and go for about 1 quart total.

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 cup sliced almonds

12-ounce box fresh blackberries, washed and stemmed

1 box strawberries, hulled and halved

2 pint boxes fresh raspberries, washed, hulled and left whole

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Instructions

Toast the almonds on an ungreased baking sheet in a 350º oven for about 4 minutes; just enough to take off the raw edge and the nuts slightly begin to color.  Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375º (350º if using Pyrex). Place the berries in an even layer into a shallow, unbuttered 9-by-13-inch baking dish or 10-inch ceramic oval gratin dish. Toss to mix them.

Place the flour, sugars, and cinnamon in a bowl.  Cut in the butter pieces with your fingers, a pastry blender, or pulse in a food processor until the mixture just holds together and looks crumbly.  Toss in the cooled nuts.  Set aside or refrigerate in a covered container.  Can be made the day ahead.

Sprinkle the fruit evenly with all of the topping.  Bake in the center of the oven until golden brown and the fruit is bubbling and tender, 35 to 40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream.

Plum and Ginger Streusel

Probably one of the most fabulous taste treats in the last ten years to hit the baking world is crystallized ginger. You find it in everything from muffins to frostings and fruitcakes. A familiar ingredient in Asian cuisine or as a post-dinner nibble, crystallized ginger add a punch of sweet-hot flavor and simply melts into the fruit during baking.

Serves 8

Ingredients

Topping

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugar

3/4 cup rolled oats (quick-cooking or old fashioned)

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Filling

3 pounds (14 to 16 medium) firm ripe red, purple, or prune plums, stoned, halved, and sliced to make about 10 cups

4 tablespoons minced crystallized ginger

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375º.   Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or 2-quart ceramic dish and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, sugar, oats, and cardamom.  Cut in the butter pieces with your fingers, pastry cutter, or food processor until evenly moistened and coarse crumbs are formed.  Set aside or refrigerate in a covered container.  Can be made the day ahead.

Place the sliced plums in the prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle with the ginger, sugar, and lemon juice.  Sprinkle the fruit evenly with all of the crumbly topping.

Place a sheet of aluminum foil on a lower oven rack to catch any fruit juices that might bubble over.  Bake in the center of the oven until golden brown and the fruit is bubbling and tender, 40 to 50 minutes.  Cool on a rack and serve warm or at room temperature with a spoonful of whipped cream or ice cream.

Plum Crunch

This recipe is a variation on a recipe from Ina Garten’s friend Sarah Leah Chase, who wrote one of my favorite cookbooks, Nantucket Open-House Cookbook. The cassis, a liqueur I always have in the cupboard, makes the plums taste more “plum-y” without making its own statement. Prune plums are only available for a few weeks in September, but regular plums are also good in summer when they’re in season. From the book Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics by Ina Garten.

Ingredients

Filling

3         pounds Italian prune plums, pitted and quartered

2/3      cup light brown sugar, lightly packed

¼         cup unbleached all-purpose flour

6          tablespoons crème de cassis black currant liqueur

Topping

1½       cups unbleached all-purpose flour

¾         cup granulated sugar

¾         cup light brown sugar, lightly packed

½         tsp. kosher salt

1          cup rolled oats

½         cup chopped walnuts

½         lb. (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced

Garnish

~          Vanilla ice cream

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. Make the filling: In a large bowl, combine the plums, brown sugar, flour, and cassis. Pour the mixture into a 12-by-8-inch shallow baking dish.

3. Make the topping: Combine the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, oats, walnuts, and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is the size of peas. Scatter evenly over the plum mixture.

4. Bake the crunch: Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the plums are bubbling and the top is browned. Serve warm or at room temperature, with ice cream.

Summer Poppy Seed Berry Crisp

You can use another type of red wine here, or another berry-compatible liquor – that said, the port, or another sweet dessert wine, is really nice. From Heidi Swanson 101.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups / 6 oz spelt flour or whole wheat pastry flour
3 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 cup / 3 oz rolled oats, uncooked
1 cup / 5 oz natural cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
2/3 cup / 5 oz unsalted butter, melted

1 tablespoon all-natural cornstarch (or rice flour)
1/3 cup / 1.5 oz natural cane sugar or muscovado sugar

4 1/2 cup of berries / fruit – mix of ripe, pitted cherries, strawberries, blackberries, etc.
1/4 cup port wine

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375F / 190 C degrees with a rack in the middle of the oven. Butter an 8-inch / 20-cm square baking dish, or equivalent.

To make the crumble, mix together the flour, poppy seeds, oats, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Use a fork to stir in the melted butter. Divide the mixture into three portions and use your hands to form three patties. Place the patties in the bowl and freeze for at least 10 minutes, or until you’re ready to bake.

Make the filling by whisking together the cornstarch and sugar in a large bowl. Add the fruit and toss until evenly coated. Wait 3 minutes, add the wine, and toss again. Transfer the filling to the prepared baking dish.

Remove the topping from the freezer and crumble it over the filling, making sure you have both big and small pieces.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the topping is deeply golden and the fruit juices are vigorously bubbling. Let cool a little before serving, 20 to 30 minutes. Serves 8 to 10.

Coconut Prune Crisp

Ingredients

2 cups dried prunes, pitted and cooked as directed
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup cream sherry wine
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Topping

1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut

Instructions

1
In a saucepan, combine the first four ingredients; simmer 15 minutes and set aside.
2
Sift flour and salt; add brown sugar, cut in butter; add oats and coconut.
3
Spread half of dry mixture in 8″ square pan; spoon prune mixture over top; spread remaining dry mixture over two layers.
4
Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes.

About Peaches

Although numerous varieties exist, peaches fall into two main categories: clingstone peaches, with flesh that holds firmly to the pit, and freestone peaches, whose flesh separates easily from the pit. Peaches can have either yellow or creamy-white flesh. Whichever variety you prefer, they’re a good source of vitamin A, vitamin E, fiber, niacin, and potassium, as well as an excellent source of vitamin C.

Unfortunately, succulent peaches are as yummy to insects as they are to us, which means chemical farmers use an awful lot of pesticides on them. Because they’re so heavily sprayed, peaches are on the Environmental Working Group’s infamous “Dirty Dozen” list. This ranking is based on USDA-tested levels of chemical residues that remain on conventionally grown fruits and vegetables even after washing. Important note: The fuzzy skins of peaches can trap pesticides, so peel peaches that haven’t been grown organically.

Choose unbruised, slightly soft or semifirm peaches with a fruity aroma and a yellow or a warm cream color, rather than green. (Green means the peach is rock hard and won’t ripen.) Store unripe peaches at room temperature for a few days; once ripe, place them in the fridge and eat them within 2 or 3 days. Wait to wash peaches until just before you eat them.

When making peach recipes, you can easily remove their skins by blanching the peaches. To do so, drop them in boiling water for a few seconds, then place them directly into cold water and slip off the skins. To remove the pits, simply slice peaches from top to bottom and give the halves a slight twist.

Add fresh peaches to yogurt or fruit salad, or show them off in cobblers, pies, compotes, and marinades. For an old-timey peach recipe, try this easy version of classic Peach Melba: Puree 10 ounces of fresh or frozen raspberries in a food processor, then pit and slice 3 ripe peaches. Fill 4 dessert goblets with vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt, spoon the raspberry puree over the ice cream, and top with peaches. Garnish the sundaes with toasted sliced almonds.

How to Peel a Peach

Peach skins are tough and chewy, mak­ing peel­ing a nec­es­sary step. The eas­i­est and best-looking way to peel a peach is to blanch it first.

Here’s the process:

Fill a large saucepan halfway with water and bring to a bare simmer.Next to the stove­top, set a large bowl filled with ice water. Cut a shal­low, 1-inch long criss­cross at the base of each peach. This will give you a start­ing point for peel­ing the peaches later.

Add 3 peaches at a time to the barely sim­mer­ing water and blanch for 1 minute, turn­ing the peaches sev­eral times to ensure that all sur­faces are blanched. Remove peaches with a slot­ted spoon and imme­di­ately plunge into the ice water. This pre­vents the peaches from cooking. Begin­ning at the base of each peach, where you made the criss­cross, peel the peaches. If any of the peaches do not peel eas­ily, sim­ply return to the hot water for another minute or so.

Peach and Almond Crisp (gluten free)

Serves 4

Ingredients

5 or 6 ripe peaches
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sliced almonds
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tsp almond extract

Instructions

Set oven to 375F
Peel and slice the peaches, Toss them with the lemon juice and spread out in a baking dish.
Mix the almond flour, sugar, almonds, butter and almond extract with your fingers until well mixed and crumbly. Crumble over the peaches.
Bake for about 30 minutes until bubbling and browned on top. Cover with foil halfway through if the top is getting too brown.
Serve hot with creme fraiche, heavy cream, whipped cream or ice cream.

Peach Crisp with Maple Cream Sauce

Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman

Yield:
6 servings

Ingredients

Topping

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
Filling

5 to 6 whole fresh peaches (best when not overly ripe or soft), peeled, cut in half and pit removed (about 1 3/4 pounds)
1/2 a lemon
Maple Cream

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

7 tablespoons real maple syrup

3 tablespoons light corn syrup

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, mix the flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt using a fork or pastry cutter. Cut the butter into small pieces and gradually add to flour mixture until evenly mixed.

Slice the peaches 1/2-inch thick into a bowl. Add the zest from the lemon half. Squeeze juice from the lemon half and stir in with the peaches and zest. Add 2 tablespoons of the maple syrup to the peaches and stir well.

Pour the peach mixture into a small pan (8 or 9-inch square) and cover evenly with the crumb topping. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until crisp and brown on top, an additional 20 to 30 minutes.

For the maple cream sauce, pour the heavy cream into a saucepan. Add the remaining 5 tablespoons maple syrup and corn syrup and stir over moderate heat until thickened and reduced by about one-third, about 15 minutes. Refrigerate the sauce until it is cold and thick. Or, if you’re in a hurry, set the saucepan into a small bowl of ice (the ice will melt and turn into ice water). Stirring your mixture, it will cool and thicken in about 15 minutes. Drizzle the maple cream sauce over the peach crisp. Serve warm.

Peach Crisp

An easy peach crisp recipe I’ve been making for decades!

Ingredients

8-10 fresh ripe peaches, peeled and sliced (or use defrosted, frozen peaches draining most of excess juices)
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
A few grates of fresh nutmeg
Topping:
1 cup flour
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup (one stick or 4 ounces) butter, cut into cubes

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350º.
Mix peaches with sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and place into a 9 x 9 inch baking dish (or something of similar size.
In a medium bowl, mix together topping ingredients using pastry blender or fingers till butter is incorporated. Crumble topping over peaches.
Pack for about 45 minutes or till topping is golden and filling is bubbling.
Serve with vanilla ice cream if desired.

Nutmeg and Orange Peach Crisp for Two

This is a completely different peach crisp with a deep granola topping and conveniently designed for two. Use a whole nutmeg and grate it yourself if you can (I use a porcelain ginger grater; it works perfectly.).

Serves 2

Ingredients

Topping

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup granola without dried fruit

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold butter, cut into pieces

Filling

1 1/2 to 2 pounds (about 3) firm-ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced 1 inch thick

1/4 cup orange juice

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375º (350º if using Pyrex).  Pour into two buttered 1 to 1-1/2 cup ramekins or into a small baking dish that holds about 2 cups and set aside.

Place the flour, granola, sugars, and nutmeg in a bowl.  Cut in the butter pieces with your fingers, a pastry blender, or pulse in a food processor until the mixture just holds together and looks crumbly.  Set aside or refrigerate in a covered container.  Can be made the day ahead.

Place the sliced peaches in the prepared dish.  Sprinkle with the orange juice.  Sprinkle the fruit evenly with all of the crumbly topping.

Bake in the center of the oven until golden brown and the fruit is bubbling and tender, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on a rack and serve warm or at room temperature.

Nectarine Crisp with Spiced Whole Wheat Crumbs

It is easier to make a nectarine crisp than a peach crisp since nectarines do not need to be peeled.

Serves 8

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground mace

Pinch of salt

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) cold butter, cut into pieces

2 to 3 pounds firm-ripe nectarines (about 6), unpeeled, stoned, halved,and thickly sliced to make about 6 cups

Juice of 1 lemon

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375º (350º if using Pyrex).  Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or 2-quart ceramic dish and set aside.

Place the flour, sugar, spices, and salt in a bowl.  Cut in the butter pieces with your fingers, a pastry blender, or pulse in a food processor until the mixture just holds together and looks crumbly.  Set aside or refrigerate in a covered container.  Can be made the day ahead.

Place the sliced nectarines in the prepared pan.  Sprinkle with the lemon juice.  Sprinkle the fruit evenly with all of the crumbly topping.

Bake in the center of the oven until golden brown and the fruit is bubbling, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on a rack and serve warm or at room temperature.

Zucchini Crumble

Makes 1 9 x 12 inch baking dish- sized crumble

Ingredients

For the crumble base & topping:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup light brown sugar
8 ounces cold unsalted butter, cubed
For the sweet zucchini filling:

4 cups zucchini, halved lengthwise, seeded if the seeds are large, and thinly sliced
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions

In a large bowl, stir together flour and brown sugar for crumble. Cut the cubes of butter into the mixture with your fingers, until the flour, sugar, and butter form a crumbly base that sticks together if you squeeze it in the palm of your hand. Chill the mixture until you’re ready to assemble.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a wide pan with a thick bottom, stir together the zucchini, sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon for the filling. Turn on the heat and bring it to a boil. If the zucchini releases a lot of water, reduce the mixture to a high simmer and until the mixture boils down a bit. The resulting mixture should be zucchini slices suspended in a liquid that’s a bit syrupy but not too thick. Remove from heat.
In a 9 x 11 or 9 x 12 inch baking dish, spread half the crumble mixture and firmly press it down in the dish, covering the bottom 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep crumble.
Spoon the slightly cooled zucchini mixture on top of the crumble bottom.
Top the zucchini mixture with the rest of the crumble topping. Smooth it gently with your hands or a wooden spoon.
Bake the crumble in the preheated oven for 30 to 50 minutes, until the top is deep golden brown and the zucchini mixture is bubbling.
Remove from the oven, allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes, and serve. Can also be served at room temperature.

text copyright Beth Hensperger 2017

Recipes copyright Nancy Bagget, Jacqueline Higuera McMahan, Karina Alred, Betty Crocker, Gourmet magazine, Heidi Swanson 101, Foreign Cinema, Grace Parisi, Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman, Cooking Light, An Edible Mosaic blog, Carolyn Beth Weil, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics by Ina Garten.

Please enjoy the recipe and make it your own. If you copy the recipe and text for internet use, please include my byline and link to my site.


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