Foolproof Fruit Crisp: A Dessert Even an ESer Can Bake
Like the rest of ES, I don’t do desserts. Which is not to say that I haven’t tried. My torrid history of dessert disasters goes back many years. I’m sure my mom still remembers the day my fifth grade best friend and I attempted chocolate chip cookies. Amateurs both, we used the recipe from the back of the package of chocolate chips. Careful adherence to the directions left us with a concoction that was more early-December-snowfall than Pillsbury doughboy. So we tapped into some sandbox wisdom – we added water. Baking the resulting quicksand yielded a burned, slippery looking substance that firmly coated the doomed cookie sheet. Mom was more upset about the wasted ingredients and the lingering smell of burning than the charred cookie sheet, which was logical given the infrequency of her own cookie baking.
Undaunted, through the years I have managed to produce (accidentally) sugarless banana bread, baking-soda-flavored butterscotch cookies and Rice Krispie treats so hard that they actually made someone bleed.
My friend Sarah received a cake-making book for Christmas in order to carry on her family tradition, wherein the birthday honoree gets to choose a cake from the book for their party. The cake is made from scratch, of course, with a long, scary list of ingredients and Mensa-approved instructions. And that doesn’t even take into account the frosting. My children better either ingratiate themselves with Aunt Sarah or learn to love brownies from a box.
All this poses a problem, though, when I am asked to bring dessert to a friend’s dinner party. Believe me, visions of artfully arranged Chips Ahoy have danced in my head, but high fructose corn syrup freaks me out. Fortunately, discount farmers’ market produce has led me to seek out (and find) a dessert that is not only practically foolproof, but also meets some of my beloved recipe criteria: few ingredients, use of food just this side of the compost pile, and general crowd pleasure.
It goes by many names, but I will call it simply Fruit Crisp.
4 c.* diced apples or ripe pears
2 T. cinnamon
2 T. white sugar
¼ c. water
½ c. (1 stick) butter (softened)**
½ c. packed brown sugar
2 c. rolled oats
Mix fruit, cinnamon, white sugar and water in a bowl.
Combine butter, brown sugar and rolled oats in a bowl. I have found that the easiest way to do this is by squeezing the ingredients together with your hands. When you are finished, the mixture will look like the picture below.
At this point, if I am indeed going to a dinner party, I like to pack up the fruit and topping in separate containers and bring them, along with a 9×9 pan, to the party. That way, the dessert can be enjoyed right out of the oven. Also, you can make this dessert in advance and store it in the refrigerator.
Heat over to 350°. Spread fruit mixture over the bottom of a 9×9 in. pan. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit. Bake until the crisp starts to bubble, usually 15-20 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream. Eggnog also makes a great accompaniment.
* All measurements are approximate, which probably means that this does not count as baking.
*Soften butter by leaving it out for a while. Do not use melted butter. I did once, and the result is why this recipe is described as practically, not completely, foolproof. Too bad you can’t stick birthday candles in it.