9.9.14 Peach and Toasted Almond Crumble with Mascarpone Whipped Cream
It’s late summer, and while the weather is warm, there’s the beginning of a crisp fall edge to it. And I currently have in my possession a number of large, golden, juicy, ripe peaches. Obviously, it’s time to make some sort of a dessert. You know, the one with the fruit, and the crumbly, buttery, oat-filled streusel topping - what’s that called? A crisp? A crumble? A cobbler? Let’s be honest, I can never keep these crazy fruit desserts straight. Especially when you start getting into things like buckles, grunts, and pandowdies. Yikes. Which is how I spent more time than I’d like to admit attempting to put an end to my utter confusion. After much investigation, here’s what I’ve discovered: most everyone is just as confused as I am.
Let’s start with the cobbler - it seems straightforward enough. Fruit, topped with dropped mounds of biscuit dough, which when baked, resembles the world’s most delicious little cobblestones. Easy. Got it. So when is a cobbler not a cobbler? When it’s cooked on top of the stove instead of in the oven. The biscuit dough is steamed, rather than baked, and lo and behold, you have a grunt. Or a slump. With me so far?
A pandowdy is like a cobbler, but after you bake it (or even part-way through baking), you break up the topping and stir it into the fruit. A buckle has a more cake-like batter, with fruit in the center. When baked, the fruit sinks and the whole thing appears to buckle inward.
As for crisps and crumbles, some would say these are exactly the same thing. Others will argue that if your topping contains oats, it’s a crisp. And if that’s not confusing enough, there are still others that would tell you that a crisp containing oats is really a crumble. Oh, but if there are no oats and the crumbs and fruit are stacked in multiple layers, it’s definitely a brown betty. I think. So there you have it. Clear as mud.
The fact of the matter is, whether or not I can accurately name the delightful dessert that just came out of my oven, it’s still pretty freaking delicious. Late summer peaches, spices, brandy, and brown sugar, baked until bubbly beneath a buttery brown crust of toasted oats and almonds. Throw on a dollop of whipped mascarpone cream spiked with honey, and I don’t care what you call it.
Peach and Toasted Almond Crumble with Mascarpone Whipped Cream
- 2 lbs peaches (about 4-5 large), thinly sliced
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp lemon zest
- 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp brandy
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp allspice
- ¼ tsp cloves
- pinch of salt
- 1 cup rolled oats
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- 4 Tbsp butter, melted
- ½ cup flour
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- ½ cup mascarpone cheese, softened
- 2 Tbsp honey
- ½ tsp vanilla
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. To prepare the fruit, mix the peaches, brown sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, brandy, cornstarch, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and salt in a large bowl. Let sit while you prepare the topping.
3. Heat a large pan over medium high heat. Once hot, add the oats and almonds, and cook, stirring frequently, until toasted golden brown and fragrant, about 8 minutes (keep a close watch, and stir often, as they can burn easily if left too long).
4. Combine the toasted oats and almonds with the melted butter, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. The mixture should be crumbly.
5. Spread peaches and any juices evenly in the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan. Top evenly with the streusel topping. Place in the oven and bake at 350 until peaches are bubbling - about 25 -30 minutes. Cool slightly before eating.
6. To make the whipped cream, whip heavy cream in a bowl until stiff peaks form. Beat in the mascarpone, honey, and vanilla. Serve atop crumble.