Thursday, May 26, 2011

Individual blackberry crumbles

(No, not those blasted cellular devices.)

Remember when I said I phoned in a secretly easy but delicious dinner the other night when I had guests?  Well, I fibbed just a little.  I did put some effort into that evening's menu when I channeled my energy into making a berry-licious dessert: individual blackberry crumbles.

It's that time of year when the prices on produce start droppin' and don't stop until the days of summer are at an end.  Coincidentally, it's also that time of year when I abandon most other foods and try to sustain myself on strawberries alone.  They're just so fresh, plump, gorgeous shades of red, and inexpensive as can be!  Can you blame me?  (Rhetorical question, shh please.)

Well, hats off to you, marketing geniuses at Giant Eagle stores in Pittsburgh.  Your eye-catching weekly ad and perfect placement of fresh blackberries made me weak in the knees.

Yes, you read that correctly.  No need for the dramatic here.  I never joke about food.  And I'd never be dramatic.

...That's another fib.

One look at those beautiful dark violet berries and I scooped up a few packages (2 for $5!), skipped right past the strawberries, and never looked back.  It felt like we were running away together, just the blackberries and me against the world.

Unfortunately for the blackberries, my loyalty was short-lived.  Because as soon as I got those berries home, the berry killers came out to play -- butter and sugar.  But, this time, they had quite the posse behind them: fresh lemon juice, oats, and even sugar cookies!  Oh little berries, you never had a chance.

Fortunately for my friends and I, my waning loyalty to the fruit turned out one hell of a dessert.  The berries were bubbling and oozing sweet purple juice!  The golden sugary cookies and oats topping packed a perfect crunch to accompany the soft berries hiding underneath it.  Oh, and as if all of that wasn't enough, they were neatly packaged into single serving ramekins, each one meant for one of us.  It was destiny!

One Year Ago: Almond layer cake

Blackberry Crumbles
(adapted from Martha Stewart)
-makes 4 individual desserts

A few notes: This is a super easy and infinitely more impressive dessert to serve to yourself and friends.  If you've fallen head over heels for another berry, say blueberries, raspberries, or even strawberries, feel free to use them in place of the blackberries.

4 cups fresh blackberries
1/4 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for ramekins
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
5 store-bought sugar cookies (about 2 ounces), coarsely crushed
1/4 cup rolled oats

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Stir blackberries, 1/4 cup sugar, 2 1/2 tablespoons flour, and the lemon juice in a bowl; set aside.

Put butter, cinnamon, salt, and remaining tablespoon sugar into a small bowl. Stir vigorously with a rubber spatula until creamy. Stir in cookies, oats, and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons flour. Work mixture through fingers until it forms coarse crumbs ranging in size from peas to gum balls.

Butter four 5-ounce ramekins (about 3 1/2 inches in diameter).  Divide blackberry mixture among ramekins; transfer to a rimmed baking sheet.  Sprinkle with crumb topping.  Bake until juices are bubbling and topping is golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.  Let cool on a rack 20 minutes before serving.

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