Currants — in their red, black, and white variations — are one of summer’s mystery fruits. (Gooseberries are another. The fact that they’re closely related to currants is not a surprise.) I used to look at the pints of tiny currants and think, “Well, they’re cute, but what should I do with them?” Then I started to top them with whipped cream for dessert, toss them onto salads, and include them in glasses of ice water as edible garnishes. Turns out there’s a lot you can do with currants!
In terms of flavor, black currants are the most tart, white currants are almost sweet, and red currants fall somewhere in between. The skin on black currants is rather thick; the skin on white currants seems thinner. Again, red is in between. Their in-between-ness and ruby-red color makes red currants my favorite variety, so that’s what I included in this crisp.
Apples and pears are decidedly not summer fruits, but I wanted a crunchy crisp, and I knew firm apples and pears would stay crunchy even after being baked. If you’d prefer to go with 100% summer fruits, opt for peaches or nectarines along with the currants — the natural sweeteners of stone fruit softens the tartness of the currants. Likewise, feel free to swap out the almonds for whatever nut you like best. A crisp is a decidedly non-fussy dessert, which means you can customize to your heart’s content.
Red Currant, Apple & Pear Crisp Makes an 8″x8″ pan.
For the bottom:
1 1/2 cups red currants, rinsed
1 large firm apple, preferably organic (Gala, Pink Lady, and Fuji are excellent choices), cored and chopped
1 firm Bosc pear, cored and chopped
1/4 cup maple syrup
For the top:
1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds
1/2 cup rolled oats (be sure to use gluten-free oats if you’re making a gluten-free crisp!)
1/2 cup raw buckwheat flour OR brown rice flour
1/4 cup date sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 stick butter, preferably from grass-fed cows (I used Kerrygold), chilled
Preheat oven to 350F. Get out a glass 8″x8″ pan and place the “bottom” ingredients in the pan. Toss well.
To make the topping, place all ingredients except the butter in a food processor. Process until the almonds and oats have become flour. Cut the butter into 8 hunks and drop them into the processor. Twirl again just until you have coarse crumbs. Pour/scrape the crumbs onto the fruit, gently pushing the topping out all the way to the edges of the pan.
Bake 25 minutes or until the topping is golden and the fruit is bubbling. Let cool at least 15 minutes on a wire rack before cutting into it. This makes an excellent breakfast, dessert, or snack. It can be refrigerated for 5 days. If you like, top your crisp with freshly whipped cream and a drizzle of maple syrup.