- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Perfume is alluring, and candy, as the saying goes, is dandy, but there’s nothing like a homemade sweet to win a heart on Valentine’s Day.

The aroma of butter and sugar wafting from the oven; the sight of a luscious dessert; and the knowledge that someone went to some effort combine to make a very romantic gesture.

Although chocolate is usually prescribed for Valentine’s Day dessert, it can be intense and a little intimidating for beginning bakers to work with. Instead, I suggest making a fruit crisp, a simple dessert of sweetened fruit with a light crumbly topping.

For the best results, start with juicy fruit. If you’re using apples, Jonagold, Cox’s Orange Pippin, Granny Smith and Cameo varieties are good bets. If you prefer pears, I’d recommend the Bartlett or Anjou. Make sure the pear is completely ripe so it’s at the peak of its flavor.

You can assemble the fruit base and the topping for a crisp several hours ahead of time and sprinkle the topping over the fruit just before baking. If you want to get formal, spoon the crisp into two bowls and top each serving with a scoop of ice cream. Or, as a casual and intimate treat, put the dish on the table and supply two spoons.

The following recipe calls for apples, but you can substitute pears, if you prefer, or use one apple and one pear.

Apple and cranberry crisp

2 medium apples, cored and diced, not peeled

1/3cup sweetened dried cranberries

1/4 cup sugar

Grated zest of 1 lemon

1 teaspoons flour

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

Butter for pan

Topping (recipe follows)

2 scoops ( cup each) vanilla ice cream

Combine the apples, cranberries, sugar, lemon zest, flour, cinnamon and salt in a mixing bowl. Spoon into a buttered 2-quart shallow baking dish. Prepare the topping and sprinkle over the fruit.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and the fruit is slightly bubbling. Serve warm topped with vanilla ice cream. Makes 2 servings.

TOPPING:

1/4 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup flour

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter, cut in small pieces

1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Combine oats, flour, brown sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Stir in walnuts.

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