I chose the combination of raspberries + Italian plums because that is what I had in the freezer. Feel free to switch in the fruit of your choice: blackberries, currents, peaches, nectarines, or figs would be equally tasty. Cornstarch can be added to absorb some of the berry juices, however, it is not necessary–I happen to like my crisp really juicy and runny, so I skip it. (After a night in the refrigerator, the juices become absorbed anyway.) You can also reduce the sugar, or cut the crisp topping in half, if you want more breakfast than dessert.
Serve this crisp warm, over yogurt as a sweet breakfast or brunch, or with vanilla ice cream, coconut or passionfruit sorbet, crème fraîche, or chilled cream as an unabashed dessert. It is lovely on its own, too, especially with a cup of milky tea or coffee. I enjoyed it the next morning, cold, for breakfast, and I could make a habit of that, too. If you do not have vanilla powder, use 1 scraped vanilla bean. (You can skip the vanilla, although I think it earns its place in this recipe.) —Cristina Sciarra
1 heaping cup (120 grams) walnuts
3/4 cup (105 grams) flour
1/2 packed cup (100 grams) light brown sugar
6 tbsp (90 grams) cold unsalted butter
the zest of 1/2 a medium lemon
1/8 teaspoon (1/2 gram) kosher salt
2 cups (225 grams) frozen raspberries
1.5 cups (255 grams) frozen, pitted and halved, Italian plums
Turn the oven to 350F (176C). While the oven is heating up, spread the walnuts across a baking sheet. Bake the walnuts for 5 minutes and then remove the baking sheet from the oven; allow the walnuts to cool.
Move the cooled walnuts into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse them, about 50 times, until you have a dusty walnut crumble. Then add the: flour, light brown sugar, butter (cut into pieces), lemon zest, and pinch of salt to the bowl. Mix all of the ingredients together for about 45 seconds, until it is just shy of doughy. Break up the crisp topping across a baking sheet. Move it to the freezer while you wash the dishes and prepare the other ingredients.
Heat the oven to 375F (190C). In a large bowl, stir together the: frozen raspberries, frozen Italian plums, lemon juice, vanilla powder, light brown sugar, and (if you are using it) the cornstarch. Butter the inside of a 10-inch pan. (You can also use a casserole dish, but I like more surface area, for the extra caramelization.)
Pour the fruit into the buttered pan, and then scatter the chilled crisp topping all over the fruit. Move the pan to the oven. Bake for 45 minutes (if the crisp is coming from the freezer, add an extra 5-10 minutes to the cooking time), or until the crisp topping is golden and the fruit is bubbling. Allow the crisp to cool for 20 minutes before enjoying.
(You can make the crisp, cover it well with plastic wrap, and store it in the freezer for up to 1 month–it goes directly from the freezer into the oven, making it the perfect, simple solution for house or dinner guests.)
Cristina is a writer, cook, and day job real estate developer. She studied literature, holds an MFA in Fiction Writing, and completed the Basic Cuisine course at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. She lives in Jersey City with her husband--a Frenchman she met in Spain--and their sweet black cat, Minou. Follow her writings, recipes, publications and photography at theroamingkitchen.com.