Thursday, June 6, 2013

Almond/Walnut & Blueberry Crumble Cream: The Ultimate in Comforting Desserts

There is a saying that "when life (or Whole Foods in this case) gives you a lot of blueberries you make a lot of blueberry recipes..." Or something like that. I have a lot of blueberries at my house. How can you pass up a one day sale on organic blueberries for $1.99 a pint or $22 for a case of 12 pints? You can't. Combine that with store credit for one of my healthy tour/cooking demo gigs and they were free--even better. So two full cases came home with me. Besides eating them in all of their natural glory, I have frozen some, juiced some, dried some, put them in smoothies, eaten them in salads and with yogurt. I made blueberry-chia seed jam, I am making a blueberry gazpacho for Souper Sundays, and, when I saw a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe for a Walnut & Fruit Crumble Cream, I knew I would make it with blueberries.

Besides switching out the fruit, I made a few changes noted in red below.

Almond/Walnut & Blueberry Crumble Cream 
Adapted From Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
(Serves 4)

Fruit Compote:
1 lb fresh organic blueberries
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp agave syrup

Note: The recipe lists two fruit compotes fig and a guava/plum combination with the lemon and sugar adjusted to taste and to accommodate the sweetness of the fruit. (Use about 1 lb of fruit in total) I used the above measurements for my fresh blueberries, adding more lemon juice and zest for tang.

1/3 cup / 40 g whole-wheat flour
1/3 cup / 40 g all-purpose flour
3 1/2 Tbsp / 50g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 3/4-inch / 2cm cubes
3/12 Tbsp / 50 g light brown sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup /100 g walnuts, coarsely broken (I used 1/2 cup walnuts & 1/2 cup sliced almonds)

2/3 cup / 150 ml heavy cream
6 1/2 Tbsp / 100 g Greek yogurt
6 1/2 Tbsp / 100 g mascarpone cheese
1 Tbsp super-fine sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 star anise, ground (I used Chinese Five-Spice)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F / 190 degrees C. 

Start with fruit and mix ingredients together in a medium saucepan and cook over medium-low for 15-20 minutes, until the fruits are completely soft, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside to cool down.

For crumble, place flours in a large mixing bowl with butter, sugar, and salt. Use your fingers to rub the mixture into a coarse bread crumb texture, then stir in the nuts. Spread on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place in oven for 15-20 minutes, until dry and cooked through. Remove from oven and leave to cool.

For the cream: place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and whisk to soft peaks, taking care not to overwhip (it is quite thick to begin with, show it shouldn't take more than 30 seconds or so).

To assemble, spoon 1/3 of the crumble into four medium glasses or glass bowls. Cover this with about 2/3 of the fruit, then 2/3 of the cream. Add another 1/3 of the crumble, them the remaining fruit, and the remaining cream. Serve at once or chill for a few hours before serving. Scatter the remaining crumble on top just before serving.

Notes/Results: I LOVE this dessert! It's like a combination of a fool and a crumble--the ultimate in comforting desserts. It's not overly sweet, which I like. The crumble which tastes of cookies, is probably the sweetest part of the dessert. There is always one component of an Ottolenghi multi-part dish that I especially fall in love with. In this case it is the spiced cream. It's a thick pillowy cloud of deliciousness--I am not sure whether I most want to eat it or float away on it. ;-) The combining of the cream with the mascarpone and the Greek yogurt makes it luscious and the little hit of spices adds complexity and flavor. Here's the thing. Ottolenghi calls for ground star anise and cardamom in the cream recipe. I had a choice--locate and dig the star anise out of the freezer, get the step stool from the spare bedroom and take it to the kitchen, climb to reach the upper shelf, find the spice grinder in the back of the cupboard, and then go to the work of grinding the star anise OR, open the spice cupboard and pull out the Chinese Five-Spice (which has ground star anise along with fennel, cinnamon, cloves and white pepper). Guess which one I chose? Right! I think it worked beautifully--it is subtle and mixed with the cardamom, it just highlights the sweet/tangy flavor of the berries without overpowering. I'm lazy--I'd do it again. ;-) This would be great with most any fruit or fruit mixture. (I want to try Ottolenghi's guava-plum combination.) I will make this again. 

Our I Heart Cooking Clubs theme this week is Something Sweet. You can check out the desserts, sweet treats and recipes with sweet ingredients that everyone made by following the links on the post. 


  1. I was so bummed that I was traveling to Philly that day and so I couldn't partake in the sale! Fingers crossed that there will be another one in the near future! This crumble parfait looks so good...definitely a perfect use of those berries!

  2. Hi Deb,
    This is one gorgeous dessert! Love it! I just bought some blueberries which was on offer and quickly freeze them for future use, as blueberries are quite costly over here.
    I would have gotten the step ladder out and start digging the upper shelf because I would never have thought of using Chinese 5-spice as a substitute!! So brilliant of you!
    Wish I could grab that cute little spoon and start digging right into your delicious dessert!

  3. Couscous & ConsciousnessJune 7, 2013 at 9:20 PM

    I'm very jealous of your score on the blueberries, Deb - they are always very expensive here, even in season. Your crumble looks gorgeous. I've been eyeing up this recipe in Jerusalem too, and I'm really intrigued by the plum and guava combination. That spice cream sounds heavenly, and I'm thinking that this would be great with tamarillos which are in season here right now.

  4. I love your take on this dessert with the use of the fresh blueberries. They're not in season here yet but rhubarb is....I see a rhubarb compote with spiced cream crumble in my future.

  5. Great deal on the blueberries! This kind of dessert is really right up my alley. The combination of fruit and cream seems to do the trick for me. I definitely agree with what you said regarding Ottolenghi/components of his recipes. I always end up falling in love with one component as well. I think the cream sounds somewhat exotic and unique. Like you, I am lazy as well and would have went for the five spice OR I would have done something a little inventive with the star anise (perhaps putting it in a ziploc and beating the hell out of it with my rolling pin). If people only knew the shenanigans that went on in my kitchen ;-)

  6. Kim--I thought of you as I was making this one! It seems exactly like something you would love. It really is one of the best desserts I have made or had lately. Smashing the star anise is a good idea too but requires more work than the five spice. ;-)

  7. Zosia--Rhubarb would be wonderful! ;-)

  8. They are crazy expensive here usually too Sue--usually at least $6.99-7.99 a pint for organic. I love that one day sale. ;-) I hope you try the plum guava combo--I bet it is wonderful. Tamarillos would be a great one too.

  9. Thanks Joyce! Blueberries are really expensive here too so you have to stock up when you can! ;-)

  10. I think I would have paid someone to pick them up for me if I was out of town Joanne! ;-) Hopefully another sale, I hear cherries may be coming again soon! ;-)

  11. Thanks Foodycat! It was so yummy! ;-)

  12. Pretty as a picture & the perfect summery it! One to save for the warmer months! Who could resist a thick pillowy cloud of deliciousness! Not me! And $1.99 for a pint of best we'd be that for a mere 125g!!

  13. Love your blog, I usually look it up first if I want to make something nice or have anyone over to eat (also a big soup fan). I don't really have much of a sweet tooth (maybe you don't either) but this is an ideal - cardamom & 5-spice transformational! I'm making it tomorrow (sadly without organic blueberries, but my new bushes in the garden might just come up with some next year). Thank you!


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