When I'm short on time and need to pull together a dinner party dessert, I often default to a fruit crisp. Homey and casual, topped with vanilla ice cream or freshly whipped cream, warm and fragrant and juicy - that's my favorite kind of dessert.
My fruit crisp is more a formula than a recipe. Use fruit that's in season: stone fruit in the summer, apples or pears in the fall and winter, berries and rhubarb in the spring. Don't bother with peeling. Toss the chopped fruit with some sugar and a little flour - the sugar draws out the juices and the flour will thicken everything up while the fruit crisp bakes.
For the topping, mix together quick-cooking oatmeal, chopped nuts, flour, brown sugar and a good pinch of salt. Then, depending on what kind of fruit you're using, add your aromatics: cinnamon and nutmeg for apples, lemon and orange zest for berries, maybe Chinese five-spice powder and white pepper for plums. Don't be afraid to experiment.
Cut in some butter - okay, a good deal of butter - and rub the whole thing together with your fingers until it's clumpy. Scatter and bake. When the fruit is bubbly and running over the sides of the dish, the topping is brown, and the whole house smells like butter, it's done.
One tip: Let the molten lava cool a few minutes before serving. You don't want to burn yourself. And you want to give the ice cream a fighting chance.
I made two of these plum apple crisps. One we ate on the first night of Rosh Hashanah. The other I took to my office, where it lasted less than an hour despite the fact that I called no attention to its existence whatsoever. It was found and suitably demolished. Which made me very happy.
Plum apple crisp
Make this homespun dessert with the last plums and first apples of the season. If you don't like almonds, try walnuts or pecans instead. This recipe is very flexible - don't worry about measuring or weighing precisely.
- 1 pound plums, any variety, pitted
- 1 pound apples, any variety, peeled and cored
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 1 cup quick-cooking oats
- 1/2 cup roasted, salted almonds, chopped
- 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a large pie plate or 9x13 casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside.Chop the plums into 2-inch chunks and put in a large mixing bowl. Grate or shred the apples into the bowl - I use a hand-held grater, but a food processor works fine too. Add the granulated sugar and 1/4 cup flour and toss with the fruit. Let sit about 15 minutes, tossing occasionally.In another bowl, stir together the oats, almonds, brown sugar, remaining 1 cup flour, salt and cinnamon. Cut the butter into small cubes and mix them into the dry ingredients. Using your fingertips, pinch and rub the butter into the dry ingredients until it is well distributed - the mixture will look pebbly.Pour the fruit and any juices that have accumulated into the baking dish. Spread the topping mixture evenly on top and pat it down lightly. Bake about 45 minutes or until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is browned and fragrant. Let sit 15 minutes before serving.
DetailsPrep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 8-10 servings