We’ve been picking blackberries lately on our evening walks. We can’t help it, really; the hedgerows and bushes along the trails are lined with patches of ripe blackberries on thorny shrubs. It’s like that Seamus Heaney poem, it started with the taste of one plump juicy berry plucked right off the vine. And then, we returned with our ice cream and yogurt pails and Ziploc bags and picked enough wild blackberries to fill a small barn.
Two summers ago, a friend gave me a giant tray of blackberries freshly picked from the woods behind her house; they were the most glorious shiny perfect globes of berries I’d ever seen, except they were sour and a little astringent. We used them in this blackberry mint crisp with oat cornmeal crumble as a sort of experiment, and a new end-of-summer dessert was born.
My favourite way to use up summer’s bountiful fruits is to bake them into deliciously tempting desserts. From pies and crisps to sauces, cooking fruit intensifies its sweet notes, making it the perfect foil for all manner of mouth-watering creations. Ever since we tried this crisp, I pray for a bounty of blackberries every summer just so I can make it again.
This crisp, in my book, is the ultimate summer dessert. Easy to pull together, it incorporates one of summer’s finest harvest and goes seamlessly well with ice cream. Blackberry and mint work well in cocktails, and make a fine pair here as well. Mint adds a refreshing zest to the sweet and tart blackberries. The accompanying topping is a crisp nutty combination of oats, cornmeal (polenta), almond flour and spices – it’s crunchy, buttery and moreish, and rounds out the crisp with warmth and texture.
If you do try this, feel free to use other summer fruits such as blueberries, peaches, cherries, etc. or a combination of fruits – it’ll all work well in this recipe. Cornmeal adds a unique crispy texture that is quite satisfying, I use medium-ground cornmeal (labeled as polenta). If you don’t have almond flour/meal, make some using your food processor or add some chopped up nuts instead, it’ll boost the crunchiness of the crisp.
Another wonderful thing about this crisp (and mostly all crisps) is that it works as both dessert and breakfast. For dessert, try it warm with generous scoops of ice cream – lately, I’m a fan of melty matcha ice cream with fruit crumble. I love it with plain coconut milk yogurt and a dollop of golden syrup in the mornings – it’s so good and decadent!
- 8 cups (about 4 lbs) fresh blackberries or blueberries
- 1/2 cup turbinado sugar or other raw sugar (adjust according to sweetness of berries)
- Zest and juice of 1/2 lime
- 3 tablespoons chopped mint
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
- 2/3 cup cornmeal (polenta)
- 1/2 cup flour (gluten-free or regular)
- 1 cup almond flour/meal (or your favourite nut flour or whole-wheat flour)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea-salt
- 1/2 cup (4 oz.) non-hydrogenated plant-based butter, cut into chunks
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a large baking, pie or ovenproof dish
- In a large bowl, combine blackberry with sugar, lime zest and juice, and mint
- Sprinkle cornstarch and salt over fruit and mix well to coat
- In a smaller bowl, mix oats, cornmeal, flour, almond flour, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt together
- Stir in butter and mix with your hand or fork until the mixture is crumbly
- Pour fruit mixture into the prepared baking dish
- Sprinkle the crumble mixture evenly over fruit mixture
- Bake for 55 – 60 minutes until the topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbly and dark
- Allow crumble to cool for at least 30 minutes and up to an hour for filling to set before serving
- Serve with ice cream, yogurt or custard
- Cover and refrigerated leftovers, just reheat in the oven