In late May, after months of lockdown, our health experts in Massachusetts announced their guidelines for opening up, including the recommendation that people visit with family and friends outdoors, rather than inside. Because we have an enclosed porch, we have never taken advantage of our large yard, though we had envisioned Adirondack chairs under the canopied shade of old trees on our lawn. That all changed this summer when we ordered six of these iconic chairs. It took over a month and countless phone calls to locate a set, but finally they arrived.
Now we have moved our social distancing al fresco, and love the simple menus we are sharing with cautious friends. This week a neighbor and I are cooking an array of comfort foods– grilled burgers, grilled corn of the cob with seasoned butter, sesame and ginger coleslaw, and baked beans. For dessert, we’ll end with a warm plum and almond crisp served with scoops of vanilla ice cream.
The simple plum crisp, one of my contributions, can be baked ahead and reheated a few minutes before serving time. I used dark purple/red plums and combined them with sugar, cornstarch, and flavorful hints of orange zest and cinnamon. The almond streusel topping is classic—flour, brown sugar, butter, plus sliced almonds and another hit of cinnamon. This delicious crisp is not overly sweet, and pairs well with scoops of vanilla or ginger ice cream. My husband says we’ll need to have about hundred more meals in our Adirondack chairs to justify their purchase. I reminded him that they are guaranteed for twenty years so there’s plenty of time!
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Warm Plum and Almond Crisp with Vanilla Ice Cream
2 1/2 pounds firm, slightly under-ripe plums, preferably Santa Rosa or other large, dark red or purple plums
4 1/2 tablespoons sugar, plus extra if needed
1 1/4 teaspoons grated orange zest (the zest of about 1 large navel orange)
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
Almond streusel topping and garnish
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
3/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup sliced almonds
6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, diced, plus extra for greasing the baking dish
1 quart best quality vanilla or ginger ice cream
6 mint sprigs, optional
1.Arrange a rack at center position and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a shallow 2 quart baking dish.
2. For the filling, halve plums and remove stems if any. Then, using a sharp paring knife, cut out the pit in one half and remove the slightly tough center core from the other half. Cut each half into 4 wedges, and place them in a large bowl.
3. Add the sugar and orange zest to a medium mixing bowl, and then using your fingertips rub the orange zest into the sugar until blended for a few seconds. Add cornstarch, cinnamon, and ginger, and whisk mixture to blend. Sprinkle mixture over the plums, and using two large spoons, toss until dry ingredients start to dissolve in juices of the fruit. Taste and add extra sugar if plums are too tart. Spread the plum mixture (and any juices collected in the bowl) into the baking dish.
4.For almond streusel topping, in a medium bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Add the almonds and butter, and then using your fingertips, combine the ingredients until crumbly. Pat the streusel mixture evenly on top of the plums.
5. Bake the crisp until the topping is golden brown, the juices are bubbling, and the plums are tender when pierced with a knife, about 45 to 50 minutes. Remove and cool 8 to10 minutes. (Crisp can be baked 6 hours ahead; cool, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature for 30 minutes. Then cover very loosely with a sheet of foil and reheat in a 350 degree oven until warm and topping is crisp, 15 minutes or more.)
6. To serve, sprinkle crisp with confectioners’ sugar, and then spoon some of the crisp onto 6 individual dessert plates. Garnish each serving with a scoop of ice cream and, if you like, with a mint sprig. Serves 6.
Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2020