I wish I’d known a long time ago what a great flavour punch freshly ground cardamom adds to all kinds of dishes, without overpowering the main elements. It’s recently become one of my favourite spices! I particularly enjoy the combination of cardamom and fruit (have you tried my Rustic Peach-Cardamom Tart yet?) and was anxious to come up with something new for spring entertaining. I’ve long been a fan of fruit crisps but sometimes find the fruit a little lacking in flavour. Caramel sauce, I thought; that’s the ticket – but not drizzled on top as many recipes suggest. How about cooking the fruit right in the sauce? I will probably never make fruit crisp any other way now. I have designed this dish without wheat flour, as I find I’m getting lots of requests for gluten-free recipes. Cooking the fruit a bit in the caramel sauce prevents it from shrinking down as much in the baking dishes so you can pack a lot more fruit into your baking dishes and it won’t shrink down as much in the oven. I love the combination of pears and apples but it would be delicious with your favourite fruit or fruit pairing as well.
- ½ cup (125 mL) quick cooking (not minute) oats
- ¼ cup (60 mL) oat flour (make this by pulverizing oats in food processor or blender) *
- ¼ cup (60 mL) brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon (2.5 mL) cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon (2.5 mL) freshly ground cardamom **
- ¼ cup (60 mL) cold butter
- 3 small apples
- 2 medium pears
- ¼ teaspoon (1.25 mL) freshly ground cardamom **
- 1/3 cup (80 mL) white sugar
- 3 tablespoons (45 mL) butter
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
* you can substitute all purpose or whole wheat flour for the oat flour; finely ground nuts would work as well!
** you’ll need about 2 teaspoons of green cardamom pods for this recipe; crack them open and extract the black seeds then grind them in a mortar and pestle until they form a light brown powder
- Prepare the crumble topping up to 2 days ahead of time by combining the oats, oat flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and cardamom in a medium bowl.
- Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the oats mixture. With your fingertips, rub the butter into the oats until it is evenly combined and the mixture is in pieces the size of peas.
- Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble the dish.
- Get fruit ready by peeling, coring and cutting into thin slices. Sprinkle with cardamom and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- Prepare caramel sauce by putting sugar and butter in a medium saucepan. Set over medium heat.
- Stir occasionally while butter and sugar melt to form a smooth, pale sauce. Add lemon juice and stir to combine.
- Continue to cook the sauce, stirring often (be sure to do this so the sugar does not scorch), until it is medium golden brown in colour (about 5 – 7 minutes).
- Add the prepared fruit to the caramel sauce; note that the sauce may clump up when you add the fruit, but it will re-melt.
- Increase heat just a little and cook the fruit in the caramel sauce, stirring gently and often, for 5 minutes, until the fruit has softened (but is not falling apart).
- Divide the fruit and caramel sauce among six 1/2 cup (125 mL) ramekins (or put the fruit and caramel sauce into a medium-sized oven-safe glass or ceramic baking dish) which you have set on a baking sheet (to catch drips as the caramel bubbles up in the oven).
- Heap crumble topping over the fruit.
- Bake until caramel sauce is nicely bubbling and crumble topping is golden brown.
- Let rest at least 15 minute or up to 4 hours before serving.