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Sunday Dinner

I can’t promise that this will be a weekly feature, but I thought since last week I gave a main course recipe, the least I could do was also give out a dessert recipe.

I think that the idea of a “homemade” dessert can be a source of panic for someone hosting a dinner, but this fruit crisp recipe is an easy one. I really like recipes where I can keep the ingredients on hand and then always have something up my sleeve, just in case I need to bring something at the last minute (it travels perfectly) or my sweet tooth is screaming at me. Of course, as with most things I love, this too comes with a story…

If I have the details of this correct, our neighbor down the street passed this on to my mom when I was in my mid single-digits. Apparently, I responded so well to this that when my second grade class put together a recipe book for Christmas gifts, this was my entry with the footnote: “Bobby’s favorite!” It is sweet/tart and the topping has the perfect bite your looking for in this type of dessert, without the fuss of having to “cut in” the cold butter. I’ll give the recipe as is and then tell how I make it work for myself.

1 3/4 lbs. frozen berries
1 stick of butter, melted
1+ teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup dark brown sugar (packed)
3/4 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups flour

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Combine the cinnamon, brown and white sugar, and flour together. Mix in well the melted butter (it will be a “crumble” consistency). Spread the frozen berries in oven proof baking dish (8×8 Pyrex). Evenly sprinkle the crumble mixture over the berries. Make sure you work some of the topping down into the berries with a spoon. Bake for 45+ minutes or until bubbly and nicely browned.

Now, for the new millennium corrections (you can also easily go “all organic” if this is important to you):  Since frozen berries now mostly come in 1 pound bags, I just use 2 bags. Because I don’t have a weight scale in the kitchen, I would have to guess-timate the 3/4 of a pound so I figure, “better a little more, than a little less…” Another note on the berries: I prefer blackberries or Marionberries for this. Trader Joe’s sells a “Fancy Berry Medley”, which is a mixture of blue, black, and raspberries, that works really well, too. My mom always used the more tart berries (never strawberries) so that’s what I do, too. For the baking dish, I have a beautiful white Vista Alegre porcelain oval dish (of course I do!) that’s 11×8, which holds the extra berries and the topping well, but I’ve also used the 2 lbs of berries in the 8×8 Pyrex, it is a little snug, though. I suppose you could fill individual ramekins with the frozen berries, as well, but I’ve always used the one dish.

By the way, there is no shame in using frozen berries. These are picked at their ripest and then flash frozen and are full of flavor. I tried to use fresh fruit once, and it just didn’t work quite right. Plus, the berries aren’t always available fresh, but I can and do keep a stash in the freezer, just in case. I don’t understand it, but the recipe just works with the frozen fruit. The other ingredients are usually pantry staples, so there is no need to run out and get random ingredients.

Served warm with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream, or a dollop of lightly whipped cream (equally easy!), this is an easy, delicious,  no-fail dessert. It’s fancy enough for company (it’s a go-to for Christmas Eve) or travels to a summer pot-luck.

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