Crumbles, Crisps and Cobblers: Classic American Desserts Take a Mideast Twist

These fresh, seasonal fruit desserts will add a sweet taste of summer of your Fourth of July barbecue.

Fig crumble.
Vered Guttman

There’s no better time than your Fourth of July barbecue to roll out those favorite crumbles and cobblers, made with fresh seasonal fruit. As always, here’s a bit of a Middle Eastern twist on these American staples: some figs, a sprinkle of cardamom, star anise, and a nice dash of arak will add that unique Mediterranean flavor to your favorite summer desserts.  

Fig crumble

Figs roasted in butter, brown sugar and a drizzle of arak with just a little bit of streusel sprinkled on top: This fig dish is everything you can ask for at the end of a summer dinner.

As with any crumble, it is at its best when served with vanilla ice cream.

Arak is a Middle Eastern anise flavored liquor. It is available in some liquor stores. You can substitute with ouzo or even vodka.
 
Serves 8-10

Ingredients:

2 lbs. fresh figs (about 20)
Oil spray
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2-3 teaspoons arak (see note above)
Vanilla ice cream (for serving, optional)
For the streusel:
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
3 tablespoons cold butter

Directions:

1.    Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius). 
2.    Wash figs, and slice an X into the top, leaving them attached at the base. Set aside.
3.    Prepare the crumble topping: Put flour and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Add butter in cubes, and mix in pulses to create crumbs. Set aside.
4.    Spray a 9-inch or 8-inch baking dish with oil. Put pan over medium heat, add a tablespoon of butter and 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar and cook until butter melts completely, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Arrange pre-cut figs next to each other in the pan, and lightly open the slices to reveal the inside. Return to medium heat for 2 minutes, then drizzle 2 to 3  teaspoons arak on top. Remove from heat.
5.    Liberally sprinkle streusel inside and around figs (you don’t have to use the entire quantity). Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes. Serve warm over vanilla ice cream.

Apricot cobbler

Apricot cobbler.
Vered Guttman

This works just as well with plums.

Serves 8-10

Ingredients:

3 lbs. fresh ripe apricots (about 18)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar 
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

For the pastry:

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold butter, cubed
1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions:

1.    Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius). Grease a 10-by-8 inch or 9-by-9 inch pan.
2.    Pit and quarter apricots and put in a large bowl. Add brown sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch and cardamom, and mix well. Transfer to pan with all the juices. Set aside.
3.    To make the pastry, put flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl of a food processor and mix. Add cold butter and blend to create crumbs. Add heavy cream and mix until large crumbs are formed. Transfer to a bowl. Use your hands to create twelve 3-inch flat round disks; do not knead the dough too much, just quickly pat with your hands. Arrange disks on top of apricots.
4.    Bake for about 1 hour, until top is golden. Let sit for 10 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Plum crumble

Plum crumble.
Vered Guttman

Serves 8-10

Ingredients:

3 lbs. plums
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground star anise
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the crumble:

1 1/2 cup flour
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
10 tablespoons cold butter, cubed

Directions:

1.    Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius). Grease a 10-by-8 inch or 9-by-9 inch pan.
2.    Pit and quarter plums. Put in a large bowl and mix in brown sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, star anise and vanilla extract. Pour into a prepared pan with all the juices. Set aside.
3.    Put flour, rolled oats, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add cold butter and mix into the dry ingredients with your fingers, creating crumbs with small pieces of butter still evident. Pour crumble evenly over plums and bake for 50-60 minutes, until top is golden. Let sit for 10 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.