Blackberry Balsamic Crisps with Rye-Oat Crumble

A couple of fun announcements before we get down to crispy business:

1) The Bojon Gourmet turned four yesterday!

2) This Saturday, I’m giving my first ever cooking demonstration in collaboration with yogini Kimberly Hu. We’re calling it YOGA+YUM. It will be a morning of delicious poses followed by a demonstration of some of my favorite (vegan, gluten-free) recipes, and then eating and drinking said recipes. Nom-maste.

And now, on to the crisps…

For the past month, our kitchen has been an Atkin’s dieter’s worst nightmare. Faced with the end of summer, I seem to have decided to Bake All The Things in a frenzy to enjoy the last of summer produce. Blackberry crisps, pink pearl apple tarte tatins, ricotta-fig cheesecakes, nectarine upside-down cakes, pumpkin muffins, fig tarts, apricot galettes – these have all featured in the nonstop parade of desserts marching through the Bojon kitchen. (Not to mention the truffles I’m making for this Saturday’s cooking demonstration, and the mint chip ice cream sandwiches from my blogiversary party.) The other night I counted five different sweets in the house. Five.

Admittedly, if this is my biggest problem, I’m a very lucky person.

It’s a good thing we’re leaving town next weekend for a week-long road trip to Portland. Although a major reason for going is to visit Bakeshop, Bakery Bar, and Salt and Straw, so that might not do us much good…

The blackberry gods eluded me this year, so I finally broke down and bought some ridiculously expensive ones from our co-op. Luckily, the berries have such intense flavor that a little goes a long way. In this case, two 6-ounce containers became 8 crisps; not too shabby.

Inspired by this pie, I added a big splash of balsamic vinegar and some lemon zest to the filling. I thought rye flour’s deep flavor would play well with the berries, so I used it in the crumble topping along with quick oats, a good grind of black pepper, a dash of cinnamon, and a few flecks of flaky salt on top.

Craig Lee, food photographer for the chronicle, kindly took pictures of my hands, and fed me words of encouragement as I struggled to shoot the crisps before the crème fraîche ice cream could melt.

As for the crisps, they have a woodsy flavor, deep and dark from the berries. The balsamic adds a tart complexity that you can’t quite put your finger on, but it heightens and intensifies the berries. The crisp streusel gets hearty notes from the rye and oats, while the black pepper and flakes of Maldon salt play off the sweet-tart filling.

No crisp is complete without ice cream; the tang of the crème fraîche here plays the creamy foil to the deep, dark flavors going on down below and seems to draw out the savory notes. I’ve eaten them with vanilla ice cream, too, which makes them taste more conventionally dessert-like. The choice is yours.

If you can’t find blackberries, try these with blueberries, huckles, or a mix of different summer berries; all play well with balsamic vinegar. I’d like to try a gluten-free version of these made with buckwheat flour, though I know that this gluten-free crumble topping will work for sure.

Another thing on my blackberry wishlist? Carey’s Honey-Thyme and Blackberry Goat Cheese Swirl Ice Cream. In fact, I think thyme could be a lovely addition to this dessert.

Wishing everyone a delicious transition into fall that’s full of gooey, warm desserts.

Crazy for Crisps:

Maple Sugar, Bourbon, and Brown Butter Peach Crisp
Plum, Rhubarb, and Raspberry Cardamom Crisp
Berry Crumble Pie, Sour Cream Ice Cream

One year ago:

Super-Moist Pink Pearl Apple Cake
Fresh Fig and Goat Cheese Flatbread with Arugula and Balsamic Reduction
Roasted Eggplant Tomato Tart

Two years ago:

Sweet Corn Grits with Berries and Honey
Ginger Plum Crumble
Roasted Eggplant Pizza with Fontina and Olives

Three years ago:

Smoky Baba Ganouj
Vanilla Brown Butter Peach Buckle
Pink Pearl Apple Custard Tart

Four years ago:

Spelty Sourdough Crackers

Blackberry Balsamic Crisps with Rye-Oat Crumble

I baked these crisps in eight 6-ounce ramekins. You can also use 1-cup wide-mouth mason jars, or bake one large crisp in a 9-10″ round baking pan, pie pan, or oven-safe skillet. Use regular rye flour here; dark rye flour is coarser and sometimes labeled as “pumpernickel flour.” These crisps are wheat-free, but not gluten-free; for a gluten-free version, try this crumble topping. My berries were on the tart side; if yours are ripe and sweet, you may want to decrease the sugar in the filling to 1/4 or 1/3 cup. Serve these warm from the oven with Dreamy Vanilla or Crème Fraîche Ice Cream.

8 servings

Blackberry Balsamic Filling:
4-5 cups blackberries (two 6-ounce containers), rinsed and drained
1/2 cup white, brown, or unrefined sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Rye-Oat Crumble Topping:
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons rye flour
1/2 cup quick oats
1/2 cup brown or unrefined sugar
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine sea or kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and slightly softened
flaky salt and coarse sugar, for sprinkling

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350ºF. Place eight 6-8 ounce ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet and set aside.

In a large bowl, toss together the blackberries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, and 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar. Divide the berries and their juices among the ramekins, and pack them down a bit to make room for the topping.

In another large bowl (or the same one, scraped clean) combine the flour, oats, sugar, salt, pepper and cinnamon. Add the butter and work with your fingertips or a pasty blender until the mixture forms large clumps. Divide the topping among the ramekins, squeezing some into hazelnut-sized chunks. Sprinkle each crisp with a bit of coarse sugar, and a few flecks of flaky salt.

Bake the crisps until the juices are bubbling furiously and the topping is golden, 30-35 minutes. Let cool at least 10 minutes, then serve the crisps warm, topped with ice cream.

Extra crisps can be covered and refrigerated for up to a week, then reheated in a hot oven or toaster oven before serving.

22 thoughts on “Blackberry Balsamic Crisps with Rye-Oat Crumble”

  1. I AM IN SHEER ADMIRATION…AND LOVE…with your site and culinary/photographic wizardry and your tastebuds and eye for color, texture and flavor….I could GUSH ON….but I am a relatively new fan and avid/rabid follower…

    Question…Is there any way to "Pin" your recipes?..I notice there is no "Pin It" sign ..and have been thus e-mailing your exquisite creations to my inbox…but is there any way to set up a Pin It system on the MacBook Air?….
    Thank you for any insight!..I am new to all of this! Thank you so much for this perfection crumble…my favorite berry of all time is the blackberry…so underused!! The crème fraîche ice cream …perfection complement…I am in gastronomic awe…really.

    1. OMG, thank you for the nicest comment ever! :D

      The way I pin images is with the Pinterest Bookmarklet. I found it here:

      Scroll down the page to the "Pin It Button". At the bottom of that little section is a blue link "looking for the pinterest bookmarklet?" Click on that. Drag the red Pin It button (at the top of that section) onto your toolbar. Then where you're on any site, you can click the button in the toolbar to pin images from that page.

      Let me know if that works.

      I never get to be tech support – thank you for this novel experience! :) Happy pinning.

  2. Happy 4 years! I can't wait to watch the 4 years that come! And this looks just heavenly. The flavors, the textures, and the colors are all making me swoon!

    1. Hi Shelly! We're so excited about our yoga-filled, baked-good-eating road trip to Portland – such a cool town. Thanks for the kudos – I think balsamic and blackberries were made for each other. :)

  3. Happy fourth blogiversary!!

    I'm totally dying over the crème fraîche ice cream, especially in conjunction with this crisp + crumble. There's something about the tanginess of things like crème fraîche and goat cheese that just works so well with blackberries. It's like they're both intense in opposite, complementary ways. (Thanks for the shout-out too! We're clearly on the same page with blackberries.) :D

    Also, love seeing the hands on photos! It's so nice to have another person around to man the camera sometimes.

    And omg…SALT & STRAW. Please eat at least two ice creams for me (in addition to the ones you eat for yourself!). Weee!

    1. Thanks for the good wishes, Carey! I completely agree about blackberries and cream…though I just remembered an early attempt at "cocktail" making. I was a young teen and we raided the liquor cabinet and only found brandy, which we mixed with cream and whole blackberries. My friend dubbed it "hog balls in cream." It was not what I would call a success. In fact, it's kind of a miracle that that experience didn't put me off making cocktails forever.

      Yeah, it's amazing how much faster things go when you don't have to keep washing your hands to touch the camera. I'm glad I made Craig work a little bit for his portion of crisp.

      I'm so excited about Salt and Straw, and I'll do my best to eat all the ice creams, in between sets of crunches, of course. ;)

  4. Happy fourth…birthday! (anniverary? something like that.) These crisps look awesome–I love the thought of adding balsamic to the berry filling! I've done it with strawberries but it's never occurred to me to add it to any other type of berry–obviously I need to change that immediately.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *