To crisp or to crumble, that is the question Healthier Fruit Crisp Topping
There is perhaps no dessert more perfect for summer than a seasonal fresh fruit cobbler or pie. My husband is a fresh fruit dessert fanatic. There is no quicker way to that man's heart than to surprise him with a pie or cobbler made from fresh seasonal fruit. And if you buy seasonal fruits at the peak of their ripeness, the fruit itself has almost all the succulent sweetness you need, with very little extra sugar for the filling, and that makes for a great, natural, healthy dessert. Which just leaves us with that perennial problem: how to top it?
Some days are days just made for pie, and on those days we'll splurge for the indulgence of two buttery crusts encasing flavorful fruit. But on most days I reach for the healthier option of topping the fruit with a crisp topping. Now I've taken the traditional crisp topping up a notch to maximize its healthy elements with oats, fiber and flax and kick up the flavor with some mouthwatering ginger.
I was originally going to call this post "ginger Cabernet rhubarb crisp" but upon reflection, I realized that the really exciting thing about the recipe was that the crisp topping: loaded with healthy oats and flax with a tantalizing hint of fresh ginger. And as I was chewing this fabulous topping over, literally, I found myself thinking that there really isn't a fruit that gets made into cobbler or pie that doesn't shine when paired with ginger. Peaches? yes. Rhubarb? Uh-huh. Strawberry? You betcha.
Some crisp toppings are quite heavy on the butter, but I'm not convinced that in this particular dessert, butter really plays a significantly distinctive role. Sometimes it is a worthy indulgence, but (in my opinion) not here. Similarly, some crisp toppings rely on nuts for added crunch. I prefer to only use high-fat nuts where you can really taste their contribution. Unless you use quite a few, I generally feel that the true taste of the nuts usually gets lost amid the fruit and sweet and oat of a crisp. But if you like nuts and aren't too worried about your waist-line, you can certainly add a few in here as well. But one of the beauties of this topping is that it has half the calories and almost a third of the fat of traditional crisp toppings.
Continue on for a brief historical and informational discussion on the differences among crisp, crumble and cobbler, or skip to the recipe.
Cobblers are generally more biscuit-like, and contain a larger topping to fruit ratio than either of its cousins. The terms "crisp" and "crumble" originally have distinctly different origins. Crumbles originated in Britain during WWII in response to rationing that made ingredients for pastry crust too scarce to make traditional pies. A little female ingenuity gave birth to the common crumble. By contrast, crisps are generally thought to be an American invention that first appears in the cooking canon in 1924. Typically associated with apples, crisp can never the less be made with any fruits.
I would like to suggest that we use the vocabulary we have at our disposal to make a meaningful distinction within the world of fruit desserts: the topping. Because the world of toppings for fruit desserts can be fairly neatly divided into two. First there are those that are primarily oat-based, include no leavening agent, and bake up to be somewhat crunchy. On the other hand, there are a class of toppings that are primarily flour based and include leavening agents, so they poof up as they bake into an almost strudel-like consistency that resembles fluffy round pebbles. Because the oat-based toppings are, well, crisp, and the flour/leavening toppings resemble crumbled pebbles, I would like to propose that we call them by that distinction. Seems logical enough eh? So spread the word: "major lexicographical problem of fruit desserts solved!" Let's just see if it catches on...
3 tablespoons sugar
1.5-2 inches fresh ginger, peeled
1/2 cup oats plus 2 Tbsp
2 Tbsp raw wheat bran
3 tsp ground flax seed
1 Tbsp all purpose flour
2 Tbsp melted butter
There are two approaches to the ginger, depending on how much you like the taste of ginger:
Mix the remaining dry ingredients together. Add the sugar to the dry ingredients and mix to combine. Melt the butter and pour over the dry ingredients. Mix to combine. It should resemble coarse sand. (*do not, as I did in the photo above, get so eager about the cool food photo that you add the dry ingredients before adding the butter. It is messy and difficult to undo). If the crisp doesn't hold together, add one more tablespoon of melted butter. If it still isn't thick enough for your tastes, you may add one tablespoon of vanilla yogurt.
Spoon topping evenly over the fruit base of your choice. Bake according to the directions for your fruit crisp recipe, or at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
To crisp or to crumble, that is the questionMany posts on variants of crust-topped fruit desserts begin with some semantic dancing around the idea of "cobbler" "crisp" and "crumble," that usually amounts to people claiming they are all the same thing. I'd like to be a little radical and suggest that we don't really need three different words to describe the same thing, and that those differences are not really wholly the result of regional differences in language talking about the same food.
Healthier Fruit Crisp ToppingBy The Skinny Gourmet (E. McDonnell)