Alice Waters says a tangerine is the perfect dessert. Certainly citrus is one of nature’s most pleasing and luscious offerings, (as opposed to Jerusalem Artichokes or say, slugs) but the perfect dessert? That title belongs to chocolate mousse. But I have spoken at length about chocolate mousse in this blog, and will again I am sure, so let’s return to tangerines. And in the near future, I feel some sort of citrus mousse coming on…perhaps that’s what Alice meant! Tangerine mousse!
Besides their aromatic, zesty delightfulness, they have ease on their side (mousse does not grow on trees or I would have long ago become an orchardist). Only making a soda float (may I suggest pomegranate soda over vanilla ice cream with a sprig of mint?) beats a tangerine for hasty preparation. But barring the tangerine and the float, (and the tangerine float: cream soda, tangerine sorbet, candied violets – made that up just now) the humble crisp is the simplest dessert to make. If you have a few minutes to spare and a blindfold you can test it’s failsafe simplicity.
When my BFF explained various methods of meditation to me and I said they sounded so simple, too simple, she replied, in her wise voice, “Not everything simple is easy.” Not everything, no, but something: a crisp. Clearly I am still struggling to make meditation a habit, because every time I am about to do it, I make a crisp instead. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is forever nagging for sweets.
I like to buzz the oats in my food processor to make oat flour for the crumble top, but you can use the flour of your choice if you don’t have a cuisinart (again, my condolences). I used rice flour with the oats this time because I was experimenting with gluten free baking. I am happy to do that on occasion, but I normally draw the line at dairy-free (I know, what’s the bloody point?) baking. However, I decided to use coconut oil in place of the butter and what do you know? I ended up with an easy, gluten free and dairy free dessert. This may be the only dairy-free dessert I ever make; I think I’ll quit while I am ahead.
For the filling, I mix various fruits – about 6 cups worth for a large crisp but it’s up to you – depending on what’s in season/in freezer, or in this case, what’s rolling around on my garage floor. I used some frozen blueberries and cranberries plus four world weary apples that had settled next to my van tires. I finely diced the garage apples in the food processor to alleviate what I assumed would be some texture issues. I tossed all the fruit in a 9 by 12 baking dish with 1/2 a lemon’s worth of zest and juice, a dash of salt and about 3-4 Tablespoons of sugar. Unless you are new to this blog, it won’t surprise you to know I err on the tart side with crisps; they sweeten as they bake. You can always add more sugar, and you don’t need to tell me about it.
1 cup oats
1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup almond meal
3 Tablespoons of flax seed meal (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
about 4 Tablespoons of coconut oil, melted
about 4 Tablespoons of maple syrup
some may like cinnamon or cardamom in this as well
You could mix the topping by hand if you have a Protestant work ethic, Catholic/Jewish guilt or just some stuff to work through. I like to drizzle in the maple syrup and taste as I go – syrup is so sweet that it’s easy to overdo it. Bake for about 40 minutes at 350 degrees.
This is thrilling for breakfast with plain yogurt and I find it also eases the pain in the evening, That would be the pain of, as Nigella Lawson says, “realizing that the eating is almost over for the day” (and all that metaphorically implies). So stave off that moment of panic and longing regarding snacks, (and your mortality) knowing all the while that I am doing the same.
Here’s to long life!