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nosh friday: fall fruit crumble with chai whipped cream

October 9, 2010

As much as I try to eat healthy, I somehow always end up with a lot of extra produce in my fridge that threatens to spoil. With my deep, abiding love for the farmer’s market and all the freshness it holds, the idea of wasting its bounty is very sad to me.

So what’s a gal to do with four extremely ripe pears, one lone apple and a bag of cranberries taking up precious freezer real estate?

CRUMBLE. That’s what you do.

Throw in some toasted hazelnuts that needed to be used, some heavy cream that was calling my name and some loose-leaf chai tea I found in my tea cabinet, and VOLIA! Magic is made.

I feel like crumbles, cobblers and the like must have originated on the pioneer trail or something, with their extreme thrift and simplicity — however, as I know that’s historically very unlikely, I have no clue where the idea for topping fruit with butter and sugar and flour and baking it came from. But wherever it did, bless ’em.

I took a few adventurous twists with this recipe, based off of my crumble topping stand-by recipe from Smitten Kitchen. I’m bringing it to my sisters’ night tonight and I am eager to see the verdict. (I see licked-clean plates in my future…)

Happy fall, y’all!

P.S. Excuse the sub-par photos. My poor DSLR was making weird wheezing noises when I tried to take photos earlier and then, after I took these, I realized my lens was just a little jammed. My point-and-shoot had to stand in and I forgot how much it hates the poor lighting in my kitchen.

Fall Fruit Crumble with Chai Whipped Cream
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

3-4 pears, peeled, cored and diced
1-2 apples, peeled, cored and diced
1/3 cup cranberries (frozen or fresh; no canned, please!)
2 T. flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 t. ginger
1/4 t. cinnamon

1 1/3 c. flour
3 T. sugar
3 T. packed brown sugar (light or dark)
1 t. baking powder
1 stick butter, melted
1/4 c. hazelnuts (optional)

3/4 c. heavy whipping cream
Scant 1 T. loose-leaf chai tea*
2 T. confectioner’s sugar

*You could also use a tea bag or two if you don’t have loose-leaf tea. The flavor probably won’t be as strong, but it should still infuse reasonably well.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Peel, core and dice your fruit, tipping it into a medium bowl with the cranberries. Sprinkle the flour, sugar and spices over it, tossing well with a spatula. Pour the mixture into a large shallow dish or pie plate, spreading evenly.

Mix the flour, sugars, baking powder, nuts (if using) and butter in the same bowl the fruit was in (why waste another clean bowl?) until crumbly and thick. Sprinkle the topping onto the fruit evenly. Place the dish onto a cookie sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 40-50 minutes, until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is golden.

Pour the heavy cream into a small saucepan over very low heat and stir in the tea. Let the cream heat until bubbling on the edges and steaming, about 3-5 minutes. Once the edges are bubbling, remove from the heat and let steep for an additional 5-10 minutes. Once the cream has achieved a pretty caramel-y brown color, pour through a mesh strainer set over a small bowl. Set the cream in the fridge to cool for about 2 hours, covering with plastic wrapped laid directly on the surface, to keep a skin from forming.

When very cold, pour the cream into a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (you could also use a handheld electric mixer or a plain old whisk, if you’d like to pump up the manpower). Add the powdered sugar and whisk on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes, or until the cream holds soft peaks. (I didn’t let mine cool long enough and it ended up curdling instead of whipping. May you have better luck!)

Chill and serve in lovely, big dollops on the crumble.

Serves 4-6

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