Actually, it's hard to argue that any cooked fruit mush is elegant. And the names betray this basic knowledge: grunt, fool, crumble, slump, cobbler, pandowdy, etc. We make crisps in our house, usually with apple, cinnamon and sometimes berries of some kind depending on what's in the fridge. The latest Cook's Illustrated had an article about Best Peach Crumble.The author, Matthew Card, correctly identifies the dessert as a "sticky puddle of mushy fruit buried beneath a gloppy beige crust." Yeah? That's what it's supposed to be! Anyway, his solution is to cook the crumble part separately and fold into the cooked peaches. The picture looks like granola mixed in with peaches- hardly any kind of peach crumble I'm familiar with.
I can't help but think MC hasn't quite got the hang of these desserts. I thought everyone knew these desserts weren't sophisticated the way a genoise cake is. Their virtue lies in their flavour, ease, flexibility and comforting textures and familial ties- which is no small collection of assets. Everyone eats these desserts, and I know they are occasionally served (dressed up) at Sussex Drive dinners. What makes them worthy of such dinners, and favourites in households across North America is their flavour. And it seems that every family has their own unique recipe handed down, and improved on by the next generation.
So tonight, in honour of (and defense of) the sticky-mushy cooked fruit dessert, I made an apple strawberry crisp, with blanched almonds in the crisp. And on top of all the other positives of making this dish, it's made my house smell lovely and will be a delicious guilty pleasure breakfast treat in the morning.
Variation on an Apple Crisp
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
3/4 C chopped strawberries, hulled
pinch of cinnamon
1/2 C butter
1/3 C flour
1/3 C sugar
1/4 C blanched almonds
1. Toss the apples, strawberries, cinnamon and a few tablespoons of water together in a casserole dish.
2. Mix the butter, flour, sugar and almonds together until crumbly. Sprinkle over the fruit.
3. Cook at 350F for 45 minutes covered. Cook another 15-20 minutes uncovered or until the crisp has browned.
4. Serve warm or cold, plain or with cream or with ice cream..