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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

California Gourmet: Dried Apple and Berry Crisp/Crumble

Apple-Elderberry Crisp Bites

It’s finally getting cold enough in Southern California for warm baked desserts.  Fruit crisps, crumbles and cobblers are easy ways to end a winter’s meal.  They can be made with fresh, frozen or canned fruits or with those dried last summer and fall.  Our recipes call for dried apples and elderberries because that’s what we dried last summer.   But you can use any dried fruits you have on hand.

Most traditional crisps and crumbles have fruit on the bottom and a crisp, crumbly topping (recipe 1, below); a few recipes use part of the topping as a bottom layer. Traditional cobblers have fruit on the bottom and a shortcake-like topping.  All combine the flavors of baked fruits (like a pie) but are simpler to prepare.

Crisps, crumbles and cobblers are simple to serve at home – still warm and fragrant from the oven.  They are less easy to manage for a potluck supper or other event away from home.  We know this from experience! 

We feature California Gourmet foods at events held several times a year in the garden.  Out of necessity, we developed a variation of the traditional crisp/cobbler recipe (recipe 2) which is more portable. We call them Dried Fruit Crisp Bites.   The bites are made in muffin tins (regular or mini-muffin size) and can be eaten warm or cold.  They combine the crisp topping of a crisp, with a shortcake crust that’s more like a cobbler.  If you only need a few Crisp Bites, you can easily halve the recipe.


Recipe 1 – Dried Apple-Elderberry Crisp/Crumble


1 cup dried apples, cut into small pieces after measuring

4 Tbsp dried elderberries (or other dried native berries/fruits: currants, gooseberries,

                                      dried strawberries, etc.)

2 Tbsp orange juice

Water (just to cover the fruits)

4 Tbsp granulated sugar

2 Tbsp flour

Place apple pieces, elderberries and orange juice in a medium bowl (a flat-bottom bowl is best).  Add water to just cover the fruits (you’ll need to pour off excess if you use too much).  Cover and let sit for at least one hour to let the fruits re-hydrate.  Press fruits down into the liquid half-way through to be sure each piece becomes hydrated.  After an hour most of the water should be taken up; if not, pour off the excess or filling will be too runny.   Add sugar and flour to fruits and stir to mix.   Let mixture sit while preparing topping.  Our filling is a bit on the tart side; taste and add more sugar if desired.

Filling for Apple-Elderberry Crisp



1  cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick cooking)

½   cup flour

½ cup granulated sugar

½  cup brown sugar

½   cup (1 stick) butter or margarine

In a medium bowl mix together all but the butter/margarine.  Cut in the butter/margarine with a fork or pastry blender until mixture resembles small peas.  The topping mixture should be well blended (homogeneous) and crumbly.
Topping - well-blended and ready to use

Place prepared filling into the bottom of an ungreased 8”x8” or 9”x9” non-reactive (glass/ceramic) baking dish or 9” pie plate.  You can also use single-serving ramekins.  Crumble topping evenly over the filling.  Place the baking dish on a cookie sheet on the middle rack of the oven.   Bake at 350°F until topping is golden brown and filling is bubbly, about 40-60 minutes.  Serve warm or cold.  Some like to top with ice cream or whipped cream.                                                                     Makes 6-9 servings



Recipe 2 – Dried Fruit Crisp Bites

Filling  (as above)

Topping (as above)

Shortcake crust

 All-purpose baking mix (enough for one recipe of shortcake)


Follow the shortcake recipe for your all purpose baking mix.  Ours uses 2 ½ cups baking mix with 3 Tbsp. granulated sugar, an egg and a little melted butter - but follow the instructions for your own  brand.


Prepare the muffin tins (regular or mini-size).  Non-stick muffin tins need no preparation; others should be lightly greased or sprayed with pan spray (if using cupcake liners, spray them with pan spray).   Roll out the crust on a floured cutting board or pastry cloth to about 1/8 inch thickness (pretty thin).   Using a circular cookie cutter that is just a little larger than the bottom of the muffin cups, cut out shortcake rounds.   You can also use a drinking class, jar lid or other round that’s the correct size.  Place the shortcake rounds in the bottom of the muffin tins; gently press the dough into the bottom of each cup.  

Shortbread crust in place - ready for filling

Crisp Bites ready for the oven

Spoon filling over each shortcake round, dividing it evenly between the cups.   Crumble the topping evenly over the filling in each cup.   Bake at 350°F until topping is golden brown and filling is bubbly, about 30-40 minutes for regular size, 20-30 minutes for mini-muffin size.   Remove from oven.   Serve warm or cold (can be re-heated in microwave).

                       Makes 18-24 regular or 48 mini bites.


We encourage you to send us your questions, comments and recipes (either comment below or e-mail to us at : mothernaturesbackyard10@gmail.com

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