Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Strawberry Crisp with Pine Nut Topping

This dessert suffers from an identity crisis. Or rather a vocabulary crisis. Yes, I've called it a crisp, but what differentiates it from a crumble, a grunt, a brown betty, or a cobbler?

Now, from what wikipedia tells me, the cobbler (and its derivations, including the crisp) is the US equivalent of the UK crumble. Now I've made far more crumbles in my life than cobblers, most of them in the US. What makes one belong on the eastern side of the Atlantic or the western side, I still have no idea.

All I know is that whatever you call it, this crumble/crisp/grunt/brown betty/cobbler is one of my favorite desserts of all time. A delicious fruity sweet confection, topped with some combination of oats, sugar, flour, and spices.
Why Bittman wanted to mess with this time-honored combination, I have no idea. But there he went, putting pine nuts with it.

Why? Who knows?

I never had a crumble in my life and thought "Wow, you know what would make this perfect? Pine nuts."
But I was curious. What if it was amazing? What if it raised crumbles (etc.) to a whole new plane of existence? How could I not try it? I even had (absurdly expensive) pine nuts on hand! The recipe was calling to be made.

How did it turn out?
Well, it a crumble. Despite the avowed 1/2 cup of ground pine nuts added to the crumble topping, there was no new depth of flavor to be had. It tasted like the good ol' combination of oats, flour, sugar, etc. No new boundaries of cuisine pushed here. So, while the product was certainly scrumptious (I mean, there's nothing wrong with a crumble tasting like a regular crumble), but I don't think pine nuts will be making a permanent addition to my dessert culinary standards.
Ah well, at least we tried it. Better luck next time, Bitty.

6 cups strawberries
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2/3 cup brown sugar
5 tablespoons cold butter
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup crushed pine nuts
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1. Toss strawberries with lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch; spread in a greased 8-or-9-inch pan.

2. Combine brown sugar, butter, rolled oats, flour, pine nuts, cinnamon, a dash of salt (and almond extract if you like) in a food processor (bah, don't be lazy, just stir by hand).

3. Crumble over fruit and bake at 375 for 40 to 45 minutes.

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