Today’s Reader Guest Post for The Holiday Project:
Jenna from Santa Barbara, California
[Jenna and I go way back. Our shared love of food goes way back. And her story about creating this guest post makes me smile, laugh, and miss her all at the same time! Thanks, Jenna!]
Hi, my name is Jenna and I am a legal assistant living in Santa Barbara. I love baking, being in the water, and trying new things, but mostly I love to eat. And read about eating, which is why I love Life Tastes Like Food!
When Steph asked me to write a post for her blog, I was so excited to share something with her foodie followers. And then, two seconds later, I started worrying. I wracked my brain for my most foolproof recipe so I wouldn’t embarrass myself in front of you guys. Fruit crisps are about as foolproof as they come. My Food and Nutrition teacher in high school used to have us make sheet pans of them by the dozen for events. Even first year culinary students who can’t figure out how to turn on the food processor (full disclosure: this was me. Still is occasionally) can manage to not screw up fruit crisp. Plus, it is delicious. And versatile, so you can make them any season, despite being mainly associated with summer. I chose to use strawberries and pineapple guavas because they were available at the farmers market when I was developing this recipe, but apples, plums, pluots, nectarines and berries (fresh or frozen) all work equally well as filling. And I am sure that those of you with better imaginations than I can figure out even more combinations- just be sure to adjust the sugar and cornstarch ratios to match the fruit.
More importantly, everyone knows that the most important part of a crisp is the topping, where all the good stuff is. As of late, I have been on a quest for the perfect topping.
It seemed so simple- all I wanted was the perfect ratio of brown sugar to butter to flour- how many variations could there really be? I can now say with authority that the answer to that question is…too many. My roommates have banned crisp from our house. But before they did, they agreed that the shortbread topping was the best one, and the key is the lavender. You don’t have to include it if you don’t have it/want to, but it adds a nice touch if you do. The strawberries pair really well with the lavender shortbread, and the pineapple guavas add an unexpected bite. I just recently discovered pineapple guavas, or fejioas, and they are my new favorite fruit because of their unusual taste and gritty texture. According to my brief internet research, pineapple guavas may not be readily available outside of Southern California, Texas, and Florida though, so feel free to omit them or swap them out for rhubarb.
When my roommates lift the embargo on crisp in a few months, this will become my go-to dessert again. That’s right, I am that awkward person who brings crisp to every social event, potluck, and barbeque I am invited to, because I am too lazy to think of something new to make. And now you can be that person too. Seasonally inappropriate, what?
Strawberry Guava Crisp
- 3 cups strawberries
- 6 large pineapple guavas (the bigger and less ripe they are, the easier they are to peel)
- 1/2 cup sugar (you may need more if the strawberries aren’t very ripe/sweet)
- 1 tbs cornstarch
Wash strawberries and pat dry, then hull and slice. Peel, hull and dice pineapple guavas. Put fruit in 9x 13 inch casserole dish and toss with sugar and cornstarch.
Topping (adapted from Food and Wine’s recipe):
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon dried lavender blossoms, chopped
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add lavender, lemon, flour, and salt and beat until dough just starts to come together. Dough should be loose and soft and pillsy. Sprinkle over the top of the fruit semi-evenly. Place on top rack in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven when fruit bubbles up and topping begins to brown slightly. Serve with vanilla or (preferably) coconut ice cream.