It's November, you're planning your next big holiday meal, and you've just realized you're out of space in the oven for dessert. What do you do? What do you do?
With this streusel-topped fruit dessert—made 100% on the stovetop in a single skillet—in your back pocket, you've got nothing to worry about. Think a fruit crisp needs to be baked in an oven to achieve that delicious crunchy topping? Nope. With just a skillet and a plate you can get the same soft and supple fruit and that hallmark buttery-crisp streusel. Whether you just don't feel like firing up the oven, or your oven is slated for other business (such as that holiday turkey), know that a stovetop version of your favorite crisp is an option.
How do you do it? By cooking the streusel separately. When making a traditional fruit crisp, a crumbly butter, sugar, and flour mix is sprinkled over the fruit before baking. But since a skillet is often used to toast ingredients such as nuts or bread crumbs, why not toast up a streusel? When applying this method, you're aiming to cook the streusel mix through (no raw flour taste), for it to be perfectly crunchy, with a nice golden-brown, not burned, color. To do this properly, there are four keys: use enough butter to enable the flour/sugar mix to brown properly, use a wide enough skillet for the streusel to be in an even layer, toast the streusel over low- to medium-low heat, and stir frequently. Once the pebbles of streusel are golden brown, spread it out on a large plate to cool. The texture becomes even crunchy as it cools.
Now it's just a matter of the fruit. I used fresh plums here, but any crisp- or cobbler-friendly fruit will work. In a large skillet, cook the fruit with sugar and a small amount of cornstarch until the fruit is soft and the juices have thickened. Immediately sprinkle the streusel over the hot fruit and serve. Unlike a baked crisp where the bottom of the streusel can be soggy, here, every smidgen of streusel surface area has been crisped up for extra crunch in every bite. And this method is ideal as a make ahead dessert—toast the streusel ahead of time and store in an airtight container until ready to use.