What’s in a name?
Whatever you want to call it. It involves berries and a crispy, crumbly, topping.
“Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet?” asked Romeo. My answer is yes. Because roses, and crisp-umble-ades, are popular with a lot of people in a lot of different places.
Perhaps we should acknowledge that the more amazing a thing is, the more names it has.
I grew up calling them crisps. However, I was amused to discover a brain glitch in the naming department. Apple filling always means an apple crisp to me, but if the filling is berries, my brain wants to say crumble. This likely has something to do with berry dominant filling being more common in restaurants where the word crumble is also more common.
Then I got curious about what everyone ELSE calls it, so I polled my friends, family and social media following. Crisp was the most common response, with a few votes for crumble and a few votes for crisp and crumble being interchangeable. Croustade was only used by people speaking French which is sensible since it is the French word for such things.
The other response that came up is that people defined crisps as using oatmeal in the topping, while crumbles use a flour based streusel topping. Well, well! Clearly I had to research that!
As it turns out, the umpteen recipe sites, culinary sites, and dictionaries come up with about the same distribution of opinions. Many say that crisps have oatmeal and crumbles do not. A smaller percentage say it can go either way and/or the words have merged. In other words, you do you.
Blueberry crisps taste like home
Regardless of what we decide to call it, this is one of my all-time favorite desserts. If you ask me to choose between pie and a crisp I will choose the crisp every time. Pies are alright, but nothing beats the slightly crunchy, browned oatmeal topping of a good crisp. Plus there’s no bottom crust to get all soggy, which I think is a substantial bonus.
It’s also a recipe that tastes and smells like home to me since it’s my mama’s recipe. It’s a recipe that we made on countless evenings in my childhood. A warm apple crisp or rhubarb-strawberry crisp, depending on the season, with a scoop of rich french vanilla ice cream or a splash of fresh cream.
I can immediately see our old brown oven in my mind’s eye and my family sitting around the laminate topped kitchen table enjoying our dessert together. The bright warm kitchen in sharp contrast to the evening darkness outside of the windows. Nowhere to be, except exactly there.
Make it healthier? Or nah?
I’ve made very few changes from the original. A very slight reduction in sugar; generally I like to keep the filling a bit tart because I know I will be adding the sweetness of ice cream to it later. I always use large flake oats rather than quick oats, or a combination, because I like the extra crispy texture and bonus fiber.
I usually use a whole grain flour instead of white flour because it tastes the same and I may as well get a bit of extra nutritional value.
At one point I attempted to reduce the butter, but it was just dry; I do not recommend reducing the butter.
The family recipe, but make it personal-sized
My goal with this version of the recipe was to size down the big crisp recipe to something more reasonable. I’d already shrunk it from a 9x13 to a 9x9 pan, but now I wanted personal-sized crisps. I happened to have blueberries to use up and it was just about perfect for four ramekins. Four servings it would be!
The measurements came out just about perfect on the first try. Go me! Granted, I could also happily put the same amount of topping on three ramekins instead of four because the topping is that good and you never REALLY have too much. Do what you will with that bit of information.
Next up, single serving? Perhaps!
Freeze the extras!
If you’d like to freeze a couple of the blueberry crisps for later, it’s easy peasy to do so. Reduce your cook time to 15 min so the crisp topping is just starting to brown. Cool the crisps completely.
Then I like to cover them with a piece of wax paper and put aluminum foil on top, shiny side in. The wax paper prevents the acid in the fruit from reacting with the foil. I have previously used plastic wrap for this but I am trying to shift towards slightly more environmentally friendly options.
The foil will help with the reheating process if you are baking your crisp from half frozen. If you want to go fully reusable, you can place your crisps in reusable bags or a container. Just make sure there isn’t excess airspace because it speeds the formation of ice crystals. You could also buy ramekins that come with lids.
When you are ready to enjoy, the easiest option is to take them out of the freezer and thaw them overnight in the fridge or on the countertop for a couple of hours. If they are completely thawed you can simply bake them uncovered at 350 degrees for about 10 min to reheat and complete the browning process.
If the crisps are still a bit frozen in the middle, remove the wax paper and put the foil back over the ramekin. Bake covered at 350 for 5-10 min (depending on how frozen it was), then continue baking uncovered for 5-10 min until it is properly browned and bubbly.
Mealtime conversation starters
Within a conversation, you are given a chance to share about yourself as well as learn about others. You have the ability to leave an impression that may lead to new friendships, or bring a smile to another's face as they think about the talk they had with you.
Today ask another,
What are you working on?
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Individual Blueberry Crisps for 4
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- ⅓ cup unsalted butter
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 pinch salt optional
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- ⅔ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- ⅓ cups whole wheat flour or multigrain flour
- 2⅔ cups blueberries fresh or frozern
- ⅓ tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp lemon zest optional
- 2 tsp corn starch more for juicier berries
- 2 tsp brown sugar optional to sweeten filling
- Preheat oven to 350 F (I use my countertop convection oven)
- Melt the butter and stir in the sugar.
- Mix in the oats, flour, salt and cinnamon, until the oats are well coated.
- Place your fresh blueberries in a bowl. Add lemon juice and zest and mix to coat
- Sprinkle on the cornstarch and mix to coat again. You can add 1 to 2 tsp of brown sugar and extra cinnamon for a slightly sweeter crisp filling, if desired.
- Place 1/4 of the filling in each ramekin, then roughly distribute the topping on top. It doesn't have to be perfectly even.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 20 min or until the topping is golden brown and the berry juices are bubbling at the edges.
- Let them cool for at least 10 min before serving. The ramekins may still be hot, so set them on a plate or a pot holder, and be mindful that the filling will be just as hot as the ramekins!
Hand Size Portions
When you look at the nutritional values of a meal to log what you are eating, that is called tracking macros. A lot of people use this method to reach their health goals.
Looking at hand portion size and using this method to gauge how and what you eat is also a great method to help you reach your health goals. Many people who use this method often think this form of tracking meals is easier and more sustainable for a lifetime.
Want to learn more about hand portion size and how to use it to reach your goals? Check out the article How to Get Started with Hand Portion Sizes.
Health Ninja Jeanette Marcotte is a health coach and professional geologist, who is obsessed with helping fellow professional women reclaim their time and energy by weaving healthy choices into their daily lives.
When she is not coaching or looking at rocks, you can find her hanging out in her garden with her dog, collecting new hobbies, and/or reading far too many books at once.
Find other articles written by Jeanette on her coach profile. Hang around for mindset strategies and micro-habits that will transform your health & confidence so that you feel like a Health Ninja, too!