My preferrred summer time dessert is fruit-forward, extraordinarily unfussy, and takes not more than half-hour to make, tops. As a result of, when the solar is out and the water is looking, the very last thing I need to do is fuss over pie dough or, frankly, make something that requires forethought. After quite a few summers spent tussling with my rolling pin and ready for icebox muffins to miraculously coalesce, I’ve zeroed in on a formulation that delivers an easygoing but aspirational, composed summer time dessert: seasonal fruit + one thing creamy + one thing crunchy. What actually delivers the wow issue and turns it right into a dinner-party-worthy dessert is the crunch. For this, I flip to sheet pan streusel.
From the second the primary crimson stalks of rhubarb present up in Could on the market till the ultimate raspberries disappear in September, I put this template on repeat. Assume: grilled peaches with whipped mascarpone and chunks of salted browned butter streusel, or ripe figs with chocolate mousse and toasted pistachio streusel. A medley of flavors and textures, the trifecta is the proper union of candy, tart, tender, and crisp.
Streusel is indisputably one of the best a part of, nicely, all the pieces it is part of. Should you strip away the buttery crumb topping from espresso cake, muffins, or a crumble, is there even a degree? It's without delay each homey and complex. You’re simply as prone to discover a crispy crumb topping on a Michelin-starred dessert menu as you might be at an area farm stand. Usually a mixture of butter, flour, sugar, and spices, with the occasional cameo of nuts, seeds, and oats, the candy crumble immediately provides texture, selection, and intrigue to no matter it’s scattered throughout.
Whereas most house cooks are most likely acquainted with utilizing streusel as a element of a recipe, layering it on prime of bitter cherry pies and cinnamon-swirled espresso muffins earlier than sticking them within the oven, pastry cooks have been recognized to bake off batches of the stuff immediately on sheet pans. Baking the crumb topping individually not solely permits for it to crisp up and caramelize with none danger of sogginess, it additionally extends its shelf life by months. I first caught wind of this system in Dorie Greenspan’s cookie tome, however it was Emma Laperruque’s completely bonkers (in one of the simplest ways potential) Food52 flowchart that opened my eyes to the limitless prospects.
So long as you’ve acquired a sweetener (cane sugar, maple syrup, honey), a fats (butter, coconut oil, nut butter), and a flour (AP, almond, spelt), you may pull off a streusel. Not like many baking initiatives, there’s no must bust out the kitchen scale, deliver elements to room temperature, or plan forward. The entire course of takes about half-hour, begin to end, and as soon as the combination is cooled, you may retailer it at room temperature for every week, or pop into your freezer, the place it should final for months. Armed with a container of crumbs, you’re nicely in your method to dessert on demand.
Relying on the kind of fruit you’re utilizing—and whether or not it’s originally or the tip of its life span—you may serve it uncooked or cooked, however macerating it with sugar and spiking it with citrus juice and zest is nearly at all times a very good name. Whereas it’s pointless to cook dinner completely ripe fruit, squashed berries and bruised stone fruit will be rescued and changed into a heap of caramelized goodness with a visit to the oven.
As for the creamy element, each dairy and plant-based choices are welcome. You may go as easy (store-bought ice cream) or as complicated (silken tofu panna cotta) as you’d like. Whipped cream, coconut cream, cashew cream, pudding, and ricotta are additionally nice selections. When composing the ultimate dessert, you may get as whimsical as you need with layering the fruity and creamy parts—the one rule to observe is to scatter the streusel on prime.
My go-to streusel is nice, salty, and laced with fennel seeds. Paying homage to taralli, the round Italian crackers steadily noticed at aperitivo hours, the aromatic crumble enhances the acidic jolt of tart summer time fruit. At first of the season, I prefer to sprinkle it over panna cotta doused with roasted strawberries and rhubarb. When juicy stone fruits seem, it's divine with grilled peaches and whipped cream. And later, when the grapes arrive, it performs nicely with roasted Concords and whipped mascarpone. However I additionally like to simply sprinkle it over a bowl of plain yogurt with a spoonful of jam and inform myself it’s “granola.”
Lead picture by Lizzie Munro. Second picture by Emily Ferretti.