When lacking time or inclination to make a pie, savvy bakers turn to crisps. That said, there’s nothing second rate about a luscious fruit filling topped by a crunchy, buttery and modestly sweet oatmeal-based crust. Homey as they are, crisps turn elegant when presented as a parfait, as this Berry Cherry Crisp, made with frozen fruit, proves.
They say necessity is the mother of invention. So is poor planning.
Some time ago I offered to bring dessert to a gathering scheduled just after the Canada Day long weekend. When the time came, not only were we in the midst of a hellishly humid heat wave, but I discovered to my dismay that I’d messed up the Canada Day store closings. I’d assumed stores would be closed on Sunday, July 1, only to discover that closures were scheduled for the observed holiday on the Monday. So I was both sweltering and in possession of no eggs for cake, no cream for panna cotta, and not much of anything, really, to make dessert for four people.
Until the idea of a crisp sprang to mind. A Berry Cherry Crisp.
Berry Cherry Crisp
Of course, I also had no fresh fruit in the house, but not to worry: I keep oatmeal in the pantry and the freezer stocked with a variety of frozen berries. In the case of crisps and pies, frozen berries rule. I prefer to keep precious (and more expensive) fresh berries for uses where their freshness shines, such as on my breakfast yogourt or oatmeal.
After an easy, early morning baking session before the kitchen got too hot, the crisp was ready to take to the party. Luckily I also had an unopened tub of yogurt on hand, so I packed it too, along with glasses for presentation. All it takes is a bit of spooning and layering, and voila, you’ll be receiving compliments for a pretty dessert that looks far more elegant than its humble origins.
This Berry Cherry Crisp has only a modest amount of sugar, allowing the flavour of the berries to shine. And it has no flour, so it’s gluten-free as well (ensure you use certified GF oatmeal if gluten cross-contamination is a concern for you). The topping has lots of butter, and what tastes better than butter? So yes, it’s not only pretty, but tasty too.
Trust me, you need to keep this recipe in your back pocket. (By the way, it makes a good breakfast, too.)
There are two secrets to making a crisp. The first is to work with cold butter for the topping, and if you're using frozen berries to keep them that way until the dish goes into the oven.
Pre-heat the oven to 350°F and have a 7x11-inch baking dish or equivalent-sized casserole on standby.
- 1 1/2 cups large flake oatmeal
- 2 tbsp coconut sugar
- 1 tbsp cane sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, frozen or very cold
- 2 cups frozen blueberries
- 2 cups frozen raspberries
- 1 cup frozen sour cherries (pitted)
- 2 tbsp coconut sugar
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
Mix the oatmeal, sugars and cinnamon in a small bowl. Chop or grate the frozen or very cold butter into small pieces. Use a small amount (just enough!) of the butter to grease the baking dish. Stir the rest of the butter into the oatmeal mixture and place the bowl in the refrigerator.
Tumble the frozen fruits into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle the sugar and cornstarch over top. Using a spatula, stir until the berries are evenly coated by the dry ingredients.
Place the prepared berries into the baking dish. Top evenly with the crumble (there's a lot, but don't worry, it all cooks down).
Place the dish onto a baking tray in case any of the fruit juices run over. Put into the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the topping has browned and the juices are bubbling around the sides of the dish.
Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. If you'd like to fancy things up, serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Or, go all out and layer with yogurt (plain Green yogurt is my choice) into a simple glass tumbler or a pretty parfait glass.
Ready to Get Your Crisp On?
In the traditional crisp camp, you’ll want to check out Sassy Rhubarb Strawberry Crisp and a sweetly unrefined Strawberry Rhubarb Coconut Crisp. Stretching the definition of a crisp just a bit (hey, it’s my blog), I’m also including Date Squares since they also have an oatmeal crisp topping — you’ll be glad I did!