Fruit cobblers and crisps are low maintenence desserts where fruit can be the star of the show. I make them year-round using frozen fruit, but I make them a little bit more often during the summer when my kitchen is well-stocked with fresh fruits and berries. The only drawback to fruit crisp is that it is a dessert that needs to be baked in the oven, and there are some summer days that you just don’t want to turn on the oven and risk heating up your kitchen too much. On hot days, you could skip the topping and just eat the berries with whipped cream or homemade ice cream, but you could also make a faster, easier Skillet Berry Crisp that won’t heat up your kitchen.
This dessert is based on a recipe I saw in Cook’s Country (June/July 2014) and it is a fruit crisp cooked entirely in a skillet on the stovetop. It takes about half the time of a traditional crisp or crumble recipe, though you do need to be a little more active during the cooking process than you do with oven recipes. First, you cook the crisp’s topping in the skillet. Mine is made with ground almonds, oatmeal and a pinch of spice, and it ends up being crisp, buttery and with a great nutty flavor. After the topping is prepared, you cook your “filling” in the same skillet until the mixture is thick, and finish it off with the crispy topping before serving. The dessert is rustic and – like all fruit cobblers – very tasty.
I used a mixture of cherries and blueberries in my fruit crisp this time around. You can use fresh or frozen fruit, but frozen berries will need a few minutes of extra cooking time to defrost. You can mix things up by adding raspberries, strawberries, blackberries or any other berries you might have around, too. I added in some dried berries (I used cranberries, but dried cherries would work, as well) as suggested by the Cook’s Country recipe to help soak up the juices of the fruit and introduce a touch of tartness into the filling. This is one recipe that will be getting a lot of use in my house this summer, since I know that I’ll have plenty of berries to use and it looks like it’s going to be a hot season!
Skillet Berry Crisp
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup ground almonds
1/3 cup rolled oats or quick cooking oatmeal
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon or allspice
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup sugar, divided
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 pound sweet cherries, jarred or frozen
8-oz blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup dried cherries or cranberries
In a medium bowl, make the topping. Whisk together flour, ground almonds, rolled oats, sugar, brown sugar, salt and spice until well-blended. Add in melted butter and vanilla extract, then stir with a fork until the mixture resembles wet sand and the butter is completely incorporated.
Pour topping into an 8 or 10-inch skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring regularly, until the mixture begins to brown, 3-4 minutes. When it starts to brown, stir slowly but constantly until mixture is well-toasted, 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool.
Make the filling. In a small bowl, combine 2 tbsp of sugar and 1 tbsp cornstarch and set aside.
In the same skillet, combine remaining sugar, cherries and blueberries and cook over medium heat until the juices from the fruit are released (and frozen fruit is cooked-through, if using frozen) and start to bubble 4-6 minutes.
Stir in vanilla extract and dried cranberries or cherries, and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring regularly.
Stir in cornstarch mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture has thickened, 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and top with topping mixture. Allow crisp to cool for at least 5-10 minutes before serving.