It’s not quite summer yet where I live, but that won’t stop me from pulling out my favorite warm weather recipes. Sometimes the best way to beat the rainy springtime blues is to serve something that reminds you of long days at the beach and night skies filled with fireworks. For me, the ultimate summer dessert will always be fruit crisp a la mode. When I was a kid, there was nothing better than wrapping up a day spent frolicking in the sunshine with a big bowl of vanilla bean ice cream melting over hot, syrupy, crunchy blackberry crisp.
Baking fruit crisp is a relatively fool-proof endeavor that fills me with all the confidence of a TV bake-off champion. At this point, I think it’s safe to assume that half the planet has streamed (and is smitten with) the Great British Baking Show. It’s difficult not to binge an entire season of Britain’s charming take on competitive baking, enraptured as a handful of exceptionally skilled amateur contestants whisk, sculpt, banter, and fret over dazzling confections like mirror-glaze cakes and complicated French pastries. To my knowledge, none of the weekly challenges on GBBS have included fruit crisp. However, there is a delightful moment in season 10 when a baker named Karen celebrates finishing her biscuits before the buzzer by casually munching on a bag of salt and vinegar crisps as her competitors continue to work frantically in the background.
I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that this show made me into a wannabe pȃtissier, though my wheelhouse concerns savory dishes that almost benefit from my fast-and-loose approach to cooking. To qualify as a contestant, it’s required that you don’t bake for a living, but these people rarely appear truly amateur; on the contrary, by the quarterfinal round, the remaining bakers are known to churn out professional-grade soufflés. They are also collectively famous for an ever-present humble cordiality which somehow downplays their expertise. They just make it look so easy! Easy to the extent that, after watching a single episode, I accumulated enough hubris to attempt a batch of notoriously tricky macarons, to predictably disastrous results. I have henceforth learned that with baking, it helps to start small, lest you bite off more than you can choux.
Jokes aside, fruit crisp stands among the simplest, easiest, guaranteed-tasty desserts you can whip up at home, and makes a great starter recipe for kids (big or small) just entering the world of baking. Unlike pies and cakes, fruit crisp packs flavor and texture without the headache of fussy doughs or precise ingredient measurements. You can make a slew of mistakes with a crisp recipe–forgetting some of the sugar, using ‘too much’ filling, etc.–and still end up with a mouthwatering, colorful concoction that will make adults and kids alike beg for seconds. In fact, the filling-to-streusel ratio is entirely up to the baker; create a thicker layer of streusel if you prefer your desserts crunchy, or opt for more fruit if you, like me, love eating cherry pie filling straight from the can.
This year, instead of reaching for berries, peaches, or apples for my summer crisp, I’m using fresh air pineapple from La Dona. Walking the thin line between sweet and tart, pineapple’s pulpy flesh balances the crunchy streusel for a flavor that’s fresh, not cloying. The natural sweetness and golden hue of a La Dona air pineapple ensures your crisp will burst with flavor and bright, cheerful color. Pro tip: this pairs beautifully with coconut or key lime ice cream.