16 September 2014

Nectarine Dried Cherry Crisp

The temperature has plummeted! I have officially rotated my wardrobe, moving pants to the front of the shelf and releasing my plethora of coats from their vacuum bagged prison. The pups is loving this reprieve from the heat, being able to once again join us on our shorter runs and roll in the dewy morning grass. But she isn't the only one...ladies and gentlemen, start your ovens!

During the hotter months, I rarely make baked desserts. Who needs to turn on their oven when chocolate dipped strawberries, grilled peaches with streusel, and pistachio gelato are so very quick and delicious? Sure I make a pie now and again, but even those are always served cold. Now that shoes have replaced flip flops on our evening dog walks, the allure of freshly baked fruit with sugary crisp and slowly melting vanilla ice cream are undeniable.

I adore crisps. They can be made year round with whatever fruit happens to be in season. Spring brings you mixed berries and fall fresh apples, but here I decided to cling to the last few fruits of summer and try a nectarine crisp. By doing so, I happened upon a new tweener-season favorite! Sweet and juicy nectarines paired with buttery-spiced oatmeal topping...I swoon just thinking about it...

The dried cherries were a fun little experiment that ended up being uber successful. Their potent, slightly tart flavor adds extra oomph to the fruit profile in this dish. I rehydrated them to ensure that they would turn out as tender as the nectarines, which worked out beautifully in the end result.

I also love crisps because of how good they are the next day. The streusel does loose its crispiness, but the wonderful ease of tossing a scoop into the microwave for an instant comfort dessert is delightful. And if you're an oatmeal fan, try a serving over a steaming bowl of oats with a drizzle of milk...you will swoon!

Nectarine Dried Cherry Crisp (8-10 servings)

For the filling:

  • 3/4 c dried cherries
  • 1 1/2 c hot water
  • 6 large nectarines, cut into thin wedges (about 5-6 cups)
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 2 tbs cornstarch
For the crisp:
  • 3/4 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 c rolled oats
  • 1/2 c packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom 
  • 6 tbs cold unsalted butter 

In a small glass or ceramic mixing bowl, combine the dried cherries with the hot water. Let sit, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes to allow the cherries to rehydrate. While the cherries plump, you can prepare the nectarines by halving, pitting and cutting into slices.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a 9x13 baking dish (preferably with butter). Transfer the rehydrated cherries and the sliced nectarines into your biggest mixing bowl. Sprinkle with one teaspoon lemon zest, cornstarch and sugar. Toss together gently with your hands until the fruit is evenly coated (then lick your fingers with relish!). Transfer the fruit to the prepared baking dish and set aside.

To make the crumble, combine all ingredients except the butter in a medium mixing bowl and whisk together. Cut the cold butter into the flour mixture in chunks about one tablespoon in size. Use your fingers to work the butter into the mixture until it comes together and the butter is evenly distributed. Sprinkle the crumb over the top of the fruit, then transfer to the prepared oven. Bake for 45-55 minutes, until the top is golden with fruit juices bubbling around the edges. Cool for 20 minutes, then serve hot with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream. 

*Note* - Spoon a serving over the top of fresh oatmeal for breakfast the following morning and drizzle with milk or cream.  AMAZING!!!!

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