I think I may have done my fair bit of preaching about using ground almonds in desserts to replace flour. Not just from the health point of view, no, but for the texture and nuttiness that you get from the ground up nuts. I buy them in bulk, make big batches of this crisp mix and stash in the freezer in separate bags. Use any fruit – apples, pears (with a little grated ginger added in for some intrigue), plums, apricots, peaches, nectarines;strew the mixture on top and bake. Couldn’t be simpler or more delicious.
The difference between a crumble and a crisp is somewhat confusing. Some say that a crumble mixture comprises butter, flour, sugar, and oats while others go by the theory that only crisps contain oats. I love the addition of oats in both my crumbles as well as crisps, and even sneak a few into a cobbler (which throws this entire discussion out the window!), but either way, what’s in a name as long as it tastes good right?
Cherries, slightly tart and undoubtedly summery, work very well for this time of year. Like making a crisp topping wasn’t easy enough, I like to leave the bits rather chunky. Upon cooking, they slightly char on the surface and stay incredibly moist and nutty inside. The crème anglaise fancies it up slightly and is a wonderful contrast to the cherries and almonds.
- FOR THE CRISP:
- 500 grams pitted cherries (fresh or tinned)
- 250 grams ground almonds
- 70 grams cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- ¼ cup + 2 tbsp oats
- ¼ cup + 1 tbsp demerara sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp corn flour
- ⅛ tsp salt
- FOR THE CRÈME ANGLAISE: (makes 2 cups)
- 2 cups full-fat milk
- 3 egg yolks
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 vanilla bean (or) 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp cornflour
- FOR THE CRISP: If using tinned cherries, wash the cherries thoroughly under running water and dry them on a towel.
- Preheat oven to 180 C/360 F. Tip the cherries into your baking dish and toss them with corn flour.
- Add ground almonds, demerara sugar, oats, cinnamon, salt, and unsalted butter to a large bowl. Using your fingers, rub the cold butter into the mixture until it starts to resemble coarse breadcrumbs. You want to leave some bits bigger than others for texture.
- Spread the crisp mix over the cherries in an even layer, and bake in the center of the oven for 40 - 50 minutes until the crisp is golden brown and the cherry juices start to bubble up to the surface.
- FOR THE CRÈME ANGLAISE : Slit the vanilla bean lengthwise and using the edge of your knife, scrape out the seeds from the pod. Reserve the pod.
- Heat the milk along with the vanilla pod in a pot under a medium flame without letting it come up to a boil.
- In another bowl whisk together the sugar, egg yolks, cornflour, and vanilla seeds/extract.
- Mix a little of the hot milk into the egg mixture and then stir the egg mixture into the remaining hot milk. Simmer over low heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring constantly until it starts to thicken (you want the consistency of double cream). Discard the vanilla pod and strain.
- Pour into a jug and cover with cling film to stop a film from forming on the surface. Once slightly cooled, refrigerate and reheat gently before serving. (Keeps well in the refrigerator for up to a week).