If not now, then when? This is high cherry and berry season and berry crisps are versatile and foolproof.
If you like pie but don’t want to make pie crust , you can add some flour to a pile of cherries or berries, spread on the crisp topping, and you’ve got CRISP in an hour or so. If you want baked and still juicy cherries or berries with crunchy topping to layer with ice cream, pile in the fruit, spread the crisp topping and bake.
My Apple Crisp topping comes from a former colleague whose grandmother’s recipe fortunately was not in the hand-written notebook that I mistakenly recycled years ago. It is a brown sugar crisp and works well with apples and pears. For berries and cherries, I use white sugar, and pulverize roasted unsalted almonds and candied ginger in the food processor with the rest of the ingredients. Both recipes are below.
1. Put a lined baking sheet or a sheet of foil on the rack below your baking rack or else plan to clean the oven after this dessert boils over.
2. Crisps are fully baked when four things happen: your kitchen smells fabulous, the crisp looks crisp and brown, you can see bubbling juice around the sides of the pan, and you can hear the sound of the bubbles.
3. You may take enormous liberties with the type and amount of fresh and dried fruit, berries and cherries that you put into a crisp. Your friends and family will compliment you on your creativity.
4. You can make crisps out of frozen fruit – and now is the time to buy perfect fresh berries and to freeze them. Lay them out in a single layer to freeze, and then pack into freezer bags.
5. No one will complain if you double the amount of crisp topping.
Missy’s Grandmother’s Apple Crisp
1. Spray or butter a 9x13 Pyrex pan. Use parchment or silicon to line the pan if you like. Preheat the oven to 375.
2. Peel and core 10 Granny Smith Apples; slice thin into water with a few T of lemon juice.
3. Drain the apples and layer them tightly up to the top of the pan.
4. Sprinkle the top with 2-3 T lemon juice.
5. For the Topping: Mix 1 cup brown sugar, ¾ flour, 1 stick of butter, 1 tsp cinnamon, pinch of salt. You can buzz this in the food processor, or do it the old fashioned way – either with two forks or a pastry blender. The crisp should look and feel like crumbly sand.
6. Spread the topping over the apples.
7. Add ¼ cup of liquid – a little bit in each corner. You may use water, apple juice, apple jack, Calvados or the liquid of your choice.
8. Bake at 375 for 50-60 minutes or until you can see and hear bubbling juice.
Cherry or Berry Crisp
1. Butter or spray an 8x8 or 9x9 pan. Use parchment or silicone to line the pan if you like. Preheat the oven to 375.
2. Mix 5-6 cups of berries and or cherries (Optional: include up to ½ cup of dried berries or cherries) in the pan. If you are aiming for a pie-like dessert, mix in 2 T flour with the fruit. If your goal is juicy berries and crispy crisp (for ice cream or because that’s the way you like it), omit the flour.
3. For the Topping: Mix ½ cup almonds; ¼ cup candied ginger, ¾ cup white sugar, ¾ cup flour, 1 stick of butter, ¼ tsp salt, ¼ tsp cinnamon. Buzz this in the food processor until it looks like crumbly sand.
4. Spread the topping over the berries.
5. Add ¼ cup of liquid – a little bit in each corner. You may use water, tart cherry juice, or cherry or berry liquor. If there are cherries in your dessert, and you remember to do this, reduce 2 cups of tart cherry juice to ½ cup. Put ¼ cup in the dessert and the rest into a glass of something sparkly for the cook.