The line between crisps, crumbles, and cobblers is a thin one. But, the way I define it is this: Crumble is when a fruit mixture is topped with butter, brown sugar, and flour all crumbled together. Crisp adds oats to that mix. Cobbler has a dough, either pastry or dumplings. It may not be technically correct, who knows, but that's the way I've always come to recognize the difference between the three.
My favorite is the crumble, and you can make it with anything you want. You can make it with Apples and Cranberries during the fall, with Strawberries and Apricots in the spring, and with beautifully tart Nectarines and vibrantly colored sweet blueberries in the summer. I planned on using apples, but on entering the grocery store, I saw the most beautiful blueberries and nectarines and decided to take advantage of the last couple of weeks of summer. And, of course, you must serve this dish hot alongside your own delicious homemade ice cream. And what could make anybody happier than to add a lot of rum and vanilla to the sinful mixture of whole milk, heavy cream, and sugar. This is a great party dish that will have your guests dishing up seconds and even thirds.
Usually in baking, I'd stress the fact that measuring each ingredient with precision is important, but this time, the fun is in throwing the ingredients together and getting your hands dirty. Remember also to add a small pinch of salt in every step. People underestimate the importance of salt in baking, but it really does bring out the natural flavors of the food.
8 ounces/1 Cup blueberries
1/2 Cup plus 1/4 Cup sugar
1/2 Cup light brown sugar
2 Tbsp. plus 1/3 Cup all-purpose flour
1 Stick(1/4 Pound) cold, unsalted butter, cubed
1 Orange, zested and juiced
Preheat the oven to 365 degrees.
Boil a pot of water over high heat and add the nectarines. Blanch for one minute and refresh in a large bowl of ice water for five minutes. Remove and peel - it should come off easily after the boiling. Slice the nectarines into wedges, this may prove difficult as the pit is incredibly imperious, but the key is that the wedges don't have to look perfect. Just get it off the pit anyway you can, and throw the wedges into a large bowl. Add the zest and juice of the orange and toss together. Allow to macerate for five minutes to bring the flavors together. Add the 1/2 Cup of sugar, 2 Tbsp. flour, and a small pinch salt and toss together. Finally add the blueberries and carefully fold into the nectarines.
In a separate bowl, add the rest of the sugar, flour, the brown sugar, the butter, and a small pinch salt. With your hands - my favorite method - or with a hand mixer, crumble the butter into the sugar and flour until the size of small peas. Place in the freezer for five minutes.
In a baking dish, add the fruit mixture and top with the crumbled sugar. Place in the oven on the middle rack - be sure to place the dish onto a sheet pan as the mixture WILL ooze out - and cook for 20 minutes. Raise the heat to 425 degrees and cook an additional 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbling and oozy and delicious looking.
Homemade Rum-Vanilla Ice Cream
1 Cup heavy cream
1 Cup milk
1/2 Cup sugar
1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3/4 tsp. pure vanilla paste
1-2 Tbsp. rum
Mix all the ingredients, except for the vanilla paste, together in a medium bowl. Add to your ice cream maker and follow the instructions of your particular machine. As it's mixing, add the vanilla paste. Once finished, freeze the ice cream until firm, yet soft enough to handle. Serve over the hot crumble.