Cobblers, Crisps & Crumbles
Rhubarb is a classic garden perennial found in many spring planting beds. This plant’s large crimped leaves emerge early on in the season, with its bright red stalks following close behind. As a small child, I have wonderful vivid memories of gardening with my family. As the ground began to thaw and the days turned warmer and longer, my parents and grandparents began to till the soil in preparation for seeds and seedlings. Our rhubarb seedlings were first lovingly sown inside, waiting on a sunny ledge in our home while the cold winter weather continued on.
As Michiganders, we are accustomed to the beauty of our state. The large expanses of crystal clear lakes, the white sand beaches, and the abundance of greenery. Trees, particularly maples, sumacs, dogwoods, and oaks tower above us and provide a spectacular display of color in the chilly fall months. There is no better way to describe our state than as being #PureMichigan!
The origin of the crisp is decidedly an American invention. When it came to recipes, early settlers were often forced to use what was readily available and on hand. Early American settlers often improvised; they had limited access to ingredients or the ability to run to the store when needed. Quite often, each creation varied from the last; oats may not have been available so ground nuts were often substituted, or flour was used in its place. There are many variations of the crisp and many have different and interesting names given to them such as: grunt, cobbler, buckle, slump, pandowdy or even a sonker. Each recipe varies from region to region. The crisp or the cobbler is what many of us in the United States are familiar with. The cobbler has more of a biscuit or cake like crust while the crisp is traditionally made with oatmeal and ground nuts as a base.
Berry Chocolate crisp adds one more layer of flavor to a very simple and comforting dessert. Chocolate and Ugandan Vanilla beans! The addition of dark cocoa powder to the crisp topping adds a depth of flavor not often found in traditional crisps. Have you ever had chocolate covered strawberries? This dessert will satisfy your desire for chocolate, berries and a crisp topping all in one delicious bite!
I get so excited this time of year! The trees are blooming, the birds are chirping, the sun is shining and the fruit is starting smell like fruit. If you don’t live on the west coast, you know what I’m talking about… There is a time in the dead of winter when you walk into the grocery store and the fruit and produce aisles smell like the floor cleaner they used earlier that morning. The strawberries are still red and ripe, but that intoxicating smell of fresh strawberries doesn’t overwhelm you. The raspberries don’t smell like raspberries, and if you’re lucky enough to find a peach, they smell like the packing material they arrived in. But… this time of year the produce aisles magically transform. The aroma of freshly picked fruit greets you the moment you step in. Finally! Fruit that tastes like fruit, and soon tomatoes that don’t taste like cardboard! If you live in the Midwest, celebrate this time (it is fleeting) with a fresh peach crumble. Simply slice the deliciously aromatic peach you can now find in the produce aisle and top it with a simple crumble. Bake to enhance the sweetness of the fruit, and store this memory away for next winter.