Friday, July 30, 2010

Blackberry apricot crisp

In spite of my cake love, I do have eyes for other desserts.

There was that blueberry crostata recently. And then last weekend, there was a blackberry apricot crisp.

I admit, it's a bit much in the span of a few days. But in my defense, I had no intention of making this dessert. My original plan last friday, when we were hosting some friends for dinner, was to make the upside-down cake, but with apricots. I had all the ingredients ready, including a pyramid of rosy-hued apricots on the counter, when our guests offered to bring cupcakes from Miette. See ya later, apricots.

And then these lovely friends arrived not only with four gorgeous cupcakes, but with a little container of blackberries they had picked. What's a girl to do?

Well, first: wolf down delicately nibble a cupcake. Then: create something worthy of hand-picked blackberries, foraged by friends.

This whole idea of urban foraging (or in this case, suburban foraging) has become quite a thing. I myself have been eyeing the blackberry patch up at Tank Hill near our house, where they grow wild. I'm just waiting for them to reach the perfect state for plucking. In the meantime, Scott and Stephanie brought me blackberries from a bramble in Marin, where it's much sunnier and things ripen earlier.

I considered lush blackberry ice cream, or a simple blackberry sauce to go over ice cream (or roasted duck). In the end, I opted for blackberry apricot crisp, since I didn't want my apricots to go to waste. In addition to the surefire crostata I posted about recently, I have a nearly foolproof recipe for crisp that can be adapted for any fruit. I did once make it with rhubarb and strawberries, which turned out terribly. But I learned from that mistake, and this time, I added a little more tapioca to thicken the filling. That was just the ticket.

Here is the fruit, moments before a crumbly cinnamon and walnut topping rained down on it. If you don't feel like diving right in, you must be made of stone.

But it gets even better after the topping is sprinkled over and baked to golden goodness. At that point, the only thing that can improve the dessert is vanilla ice cream, which, it must be said, can improve just about anything.

And there you are. Thanks to the kindness of friends, summer in a bowl.

Blackberry apricot crisp
Adapted from Baking Illustrated

6 T. flour
1/4 c. light brown sugar
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. salt
5 T. cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" pieces
3/4 c. coarsely chopped walnuts

5-6 cups of blackberries and apricots (apricots pitted and sliced)
1/2 t. lemon zest
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 c. granulated sugar (or more or less to taste)
1 T. quick-cooking tapioca

Place flour, sugars, spices, and salt in a food processor and process briefly to combine. Add butter and pulse 10 times for about 4 seconds each pulse. The mixture will first look like dry sand, with large lumps of butter, then like coarse cornmeal. Add the nuts and process again, four or five 1-second pulses. The topping should now look like slightly clumpy wet sand. Be sure not to overmix or the mixture will become too wet and homogeneous. Refrigerate topping while preparing the fruit, at least 15 minutes.

Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 375.

Toss all filling ingredients together in a medium bowl, then pour into an 8-inch square baking pan (or pie plate, like I used). 

Distribute the chilled topping evenly over the fruit. Bake for 40 minutes. Turn the heat up to 400 and bake for another 5 minutes or until the fruit is bubbling and the topping turns deep golden brown. Serve warm.


  1. That looks gorgeous! I like to try different things to bring to work for my friends-this will be on the list! I did make a blackberry cobbler for the 4th, but I know the apricots will add a nice layer of flavor!

  2. How wonderful and summery! I do wish berries weren't so dang expensive in Paris...

  3. Beautiful way to use summer's bounty of fruit. We just went blackberry picking and I only made blackberry green tea so far. I just put two gallons of blackberries in the freezer for a mid-winter fix.

  4. i won't lie--i love making desserts using blackberries...when someone else does the picking. those frickin' thorns hurt! :)
    lovely crisp, obviously. lovely friends, too!

  5. Nope, definitely not made of stone. Which is lucky because that looks so, so good. The red stain on the bowl where the juice has bubbled up, set me drooling straight away :) I wish we had easier access to wild blackberries but they're considered a noxious weed here, and the wild plant is often sprayed with poison to kill them. AH well, at least I can still buy them!

  6. tamilyn: give it a try--you & your friends will like it!

    camille: too bad they're so expensive there. But I suppose Paris has other virtues :)

    oneordinaryday: Have you posted about the tea yet? I'd like to try that!

    grace: wise woman.

    shaz: I love the way the juice bubbled up in that photo too!

  7. That looks wicked good! Crisps are the bomb. I miss having berry patches, we had a raspberry one, a strawberry one and a blackberry one when I was a kid.

  8. Divine! I am heading out to the blackberry patch today and will be back to follow your instruction.

  9. that looks so fresh and seasonal. I love apricots! my grandmother had a tree and we enjoyed them pickled when they were green (umeboshi) but I loved them best when they were sweet and ripe. They look beautiful with the blackberries and ice cream.

  10. Bob: That's so luck to have berry patches...what a dream!

    agrigirl: Did you try it?

    foodhoe: Pickled apricots, I am intrigued! Although I do imagine I would prefer them ripe and sweet, I would like to try them your grandmother's way.

  11. I share with you in your cake love, but this looks divine :). Pass some over here daaaaahling.
    *kisses* HH

  12. my dad is obsessed with blueberries as the perfect food source, so thanks for the recipes (they look great).

  13. HH: Thanks, love!

    philandlauren: give it a try! And thanks for stopping by!

  14. A perfect dessert -- fresh, sweet and crunchy. Plus, it's so versatile as you can use so many different types of fruit in it, too.