Crisp Topping Recipe
There’s something about a warm fruit crisp with a scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream melting alongside that most people are unable to resist. And who doesn’t love pulling that heavy baking dish, fragrant with the aroma of sweet seasonal fruit, out of the oven, with the rich fruit juices bubbling, with the heavenly smell of the buttery, nutty topping? What’s not to like?
I love fruit crisps but sometimes they can be, well…less than crisp. So I came up with a plan to put the crisp back in crisp topping.
Ever since I came up with this recipe, it’s become the only one I use and is my summertime staple. Even though there’s perhaps nothing easier to prepare in a moment’s notice, I like to keep a batch in the freezer for an impromptu fresh fruit crisp, so you can easily double the recipe and freeze the rest for the next time.
I use the coarsest polenta available, although you can use stone-ground cornmeal or even ‘instant’ polenta which is the most common kind of polenta available in Paris. This Polenta Crisp Topping is enough to cover a 2-quart (2 liter) baking dish of fruit filled with about 8 cups (2 kg) of sliced and sweetened fruit. Some favorite combinations are peaches and nectarines with berries or cherries, fresh apricots tossed with sour cherries, Gravenstein apple slices mixed with blackberries, and rhubarb with berries.
Making the recipe is pretty straightforward and is easily whizzed up in your blender or food processor. If you don’t have either, you can chop the nuts by hand and use your fingers or a pastry blender to make the crisp topping. And although I often recommend toasting the nuts in advance, sometimes I don’t feel like firing up the oven and just add them as is.