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February 2002 Issue
The Best of Cobblers and Crisps
by Ronda L. Halpin
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The Toppings

Topping a fruit dessert is equally as simple as filling it. However, in most cases, it's actually faster to make the topping than it is to make the filling because there are no stovetops involved.

In general, crisps involve a topping that resembles coarse crumbs, whereas a cobbler's topping looks more like pieces of biscuits, cookies or the like. You can top any fruit filling with either topping, but I generally prefer topping fillings with relatively large pieces of fruit as crisps and fillings with small pieces of fruit as cobblers. Of course, there's no hard and fast rule here and you can choose whatever tastes best to you, is easiest for you to make or whatever! Here are two of my favorite toppings:


Classic Crisp Topping

Using whole wheat flour and thick-cut oats lends texture and adds fiber to this tasty topping.
  • 1/3 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 c. thick-cut oatmeal
  • 1/4 c. packed brown sugar
  • 2 T. finely chopped walnuts
  • 3 T. margarine
In a small bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Cut the margarine into the mixture with a pastry blender until it resembles coarse crumbs. This topping can be made ahead of time and stored for up to a week tightly covered in the refrigerator.
  • Yields: Topping for 1 large (4 serving) or 2 small (2 serving) desserts
  • Preparation Time: 5 minutes


Cookie Cobbler Topping

Dropping spoonfuls of this tasty topping over your fruit filling makes you think you're topping your cobbler with butter cookies!
  • 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 8 T. unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1 egg yolk (use whole egg if doubling recipe)
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl and set aside.

Beat the butter and sugar in a medium bowl until light and fluffy, about 1 minute with electric mixer or 3 minutes by hand. Beat in the egg yolk and vanilla until smooth. Stir in the dry ingredients until just combined. This topping is best made in small batches and used immediately.

  • Yields: Topping for 1 large (4 serving) or 2 small (2 serving) desserts
  • Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Other easy toppings for your fruity desserts -- not to mention ice cream -- include shredded wheat tossed with a little brown sugar and melted butter or margarine, your favorite granola lightly sprayed with cooking spray or flaky uncooked refrigerated biscuits that have been sliced in half and carefully laid over the filling of your choice. They are quick toppings that are perfect solutions when you suddenly find yourself craving cobbler or crisp.

So now you see how easy it can be to include a warm fruit dessert to any winter menu you can dish up. Why not make your family feel special and bake one tonight?

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