Crisps are one of my favorite summertime desserts. Not only are they simple to make, they’re a great way to use up a lot of fruit, whether you get it in a CSA basket or spent a day picking berries.
It’s also my favorite among the family of similar desserts such as cobblers, crumbles, buckles, and grunts (yes that’s actually the name of a dish). While there’s some debate over what the difference between a crumble and a crisp, I generally think of crumbles as having a denser streusel-like topping, while a crisp has a crispier topping, often containing oats.
Because the whole point of this type of dessert is the fruit, I don’t add any spices to the fruit mixture and keep the sugar and thickener to a bare minimum. The topping is were I would introduce new flavors and in this case, I’ve used toasted sesame seeds to bring a rich nuttiness and a combination of dark brown sugar and maple syrup to add a deep earthy flavor.
If you’re wondering why I’m using potato starch instead of cornstarch, it’s because it will thicken the fruit without making it gummy and because it won’t cloud the fruit juices.
You can use other fruit with this recipe, but you’ll need to adjust the amount of lemon juice, sugar and potato starch depending on the fruit. Fruits with a lot of moisture like berries and peaches need more starch where as dryer fruits such as apples will require less.
The amount of sugar is a personal preference, but since the topping is very sweet, I like to keep the amount of sugar in the filling to a minimum. Acidity from the lemon juice should be adjusted depending on how sour your fruit is as well as how tart you like your crisps.
You can mix the fruit mixture and make the topping ahead of time, storing them separately in the fridge, but don’t put it together until you’re ready to put it in the oven. Serve hot with whipped cream, crème fraiche or ice cream.
- 20 ounces strawberries, hulled, halved if large
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (to taste)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons potato starch
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 ounces quick-cook oatmeal
- 1/4 cup maple syrup (preferably grade B or dark amber)
- 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- Toss the strawberries with the lemon juice, granulated sugar, and potato starch. Let them sit for at least an hour to draw out some of the juices from the strawberries. If you are using frozen strawberries, let them thaw out completely before making the crisp.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- To make the topping put the sesame seeds, flour, salt and brown sugar in the work-bowl of a food processor and blitz until the sesame seeds are ground. If you don’t have a food processor, you can grind the sesame seeds with a spice grinder or mortar and pestle.
- Add the oatmeal, maple syrup and butter and pulse until the butter is evenly distributed and the mixture looks like granola.
- Add the strawberry mixture to a 1-quart quiche or pie dish.
- Crumble the topping evenly over the strawberries all the way out to the edges of the dish.
- Put the dish on a baking sheet to contain spills and place it in the oven. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and crispy and the strawberries underneath are bubbling up through the cracks in the crisp.
Yield: 4-6 small servings
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.