Wild and Crazy Crisp
June 18, 2008
Crisps were one of the first things I wanted to make when I first started to cook and bake. My first crisp unfolded much like all my other early cooking excursions: I’d be hit with an idea (pesto! lasagna! banana bread!) and would have to make it as soon as humanly possible. These excursions usually involved a mid-grocery store cell phone call to my mom, who would get as excited as I was and patiently dictate her recipes to me.
I got the brilliant idea to make a crisp for the first time a couple falls ago, when Kevin and I were driving home from an orchard in Virginia, where we’d wandered through the rows of squat apple trees, plucking a peck of apples. My mom walked me through the method: butter, oats, walnuts, brown sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice. And don’t forget the salt. I probably don’t have to tell you that I was in autumnal heaven shortly thereafter, pulling a bubbling dish of softened baked apples, topped with a rustic, undulating lid of sweet, buttery oats.
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)
What followed was an unwavering dedication to the crisp. For at least a couple years, it was always an apple crisp. I couldn’t shake the bliss of that first experience. Why mess with a good thing? Well, mess I did and thank the dessert gods that I did! There are now very few varieties of fruits that I haven’t peeled/cored/pitted and diced, only to slip them beneath a soon-to-be browned topping. And they’ve all been good—most of them spectacular and all of them anointed with a scoop (or three) of ice cream.
Even though apples proved to be merely a gateway fruit in my crisp experience, I’ve always remained faithful to the topping. It’s always had oats, brown sugar, walnuts, lemon, salt and (obviously) butter. To be honest, I never even thought about diverging. Until I saw a recipe that called for pistachios and an amount of butter that I could never in good conscience use in a recipe of my own making. I gave the topping a try last Friday, pairing it with a foundation of tart plums and juicy raspberries.
And? Oh my. So good. Mmmm. The kind of dessert that reduces me to fragmentary phrases like this. If this is what being wild and crazy in the kitchen (Not only a new fruit combination, but a new topping too? If that’s not wild and crazy, I don’t know what is.) will yield, sign me up for more of it.
Plum-Raspberry Crisp with Pistachio Crisp
Adapted from Gourmet
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups raspberries
2 cups pitted, chopped plums (about 5 small plums)
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/3 cup shelled natural pistachios
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 375°F. and butter a medium-sized shallow baking dish.
In a bowl stir together sugar and flour. Add raspberries, plums and lemon zest to sugar mixture, tossing well, and spread mixture in baking dish.
Finely chop pistachios. In a bowl whisk together flour and sugars. Cut butter into 1/2-inch cubes and with your fingers or a pastry blender blend into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add pistachios and toss well.
Squeeze a handful of topping together and coarsely crumble in chunks over filling. Squeeze and evenly crumble remaining topping over filling in same manner. Bake crisp in upper third of oven until filling is bubbling and topping is crisp and golden, about 45 minutes.
Serve crisp warm or at room temperature.