individual strawberry basil crisps.

individual strawberry basil crisps.

There’s something very special about picking your own berries in the summer. It’s almost a sacred event to me, and I really geek out on it. You gain an entirely new respect for the thing you are harvesting, I think; I imagine this must be similar to what hunters feel (or at least I hope they feel this way) when killing animals for food. Even though berries don’t have feelings, I do feel like it gives you a new perspective on how amazing nature is and how much goes into putting those little plastic boxes of fruit on your grocery store shelves.

farm fresh strawberries: i picked those.

If you’ve ever picked your own berries, or fruit of any kind, you realize quickly how different it is from the sort you find in most markets, unless you buy all your produce from a farm stand. I applaud you if you do; I try to, but I’m not perfect. It took exactly twenty-five minutes in the strawberry fields the other day to remind me of the beauty and flavor of berries you pick yourself. Have you ever picked them on your own before? I know some of you have; they are sheer perfection, am I right? Yes.

My mom used to take us fruit-picking when we were little. Every year, in fact, was an endless cycle of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries in the summer, apples in the fall, canning, freezing, rinse, repeat. And so it was, every year, that we had fresh fruit, as well as a few bee stings, and some fairly dirty knees. But we had a great time, and although I wasn’t as proficient in geekery then as I am now (because back then, it was just fun), I realize that it instilled in me a healthy respect for fruit, and food, and farmers.

individual strawberry basil crisps.

I am lucky enough to have a farm mere minutes away from me – Lakeview Farms – that grows fresh strawberries and raspberries, all pick-your-own. They’ll get it ready for you and help you pay for it when you’re done, but if you want what they grew, you have to get down on your knees and start snapping off some berries. I thought the Wee One would love to do this, as she’s beginning to appreciate how awesome fruit can be. Also, the girl is a carbon copy of her mother, and we love a project, so off we went.

strawberry picking 2013

She did very well at pick-assisting. If you have a three-year old or older, scurry them out to the nearest berry patch this summer. You’ll all be happy you did. How much fun does that look like? So much fun, I know. Besides, those little fingers can really get in under the leaves.

So after about a half hour of fun labor, we came home with several pounds of strawberries, all for under $5. I know, right? A little work has its rewards. Because we really did work for this, though, I knew I didn’t want to cover up the fierce flavor of these precious things in a cake or frosting, as I am sometimes prone to doing. No no; these deserves something special to showcase them.

individual strawberry basil crisps.

Since we had just done galettes a few weeks ago, I thought I’d do a crisp this time. If you, like me, love the look and ease of those individual gratin pans with the handle, I’m guessing that you don’t get to use them nearly as much as you want to, especially in the hotter months. Well, voila: I use them for individual crisps, because their shallowness makes them perfect vessels for a fruit crisp. They’re deep enough to pile some fruit and struesel topping on, and still provide enough room to scoot a little ice cream on top of when you serve them. Which is exactly what you should do with these; vanilla ice cream.

I added some basil to the whole thing, as one of my most favorite things ever is strawberry basil jam. It’s not basil-in-your-face like a fresh pesto, but it gives the berries a little flavor lift, which is nice. It’s refreshing, I think, which is why I like to leave it until the end. If you’re not into basil, simply leave it off the top, because there’s none inside the berry mixture. Scatter as much or as little as you like, but I promise you it is delicious. I used the basil from my garden, which I haven’t had the chance to talk about yet, mostly because I am battling the vermin known as rabbits right now. Thanks to them, I’ve rolled my entire garden plot into a massive chicken wire Fort Knox, but I haven’t had much time to enjoy it yet. We’ll talk soon and I’ll tell you what I’m growing this year.

individual strawberry basil crisps.

Happy berry season! Now get out there and find some. Take yourselves. Take your kids, if you have them. it beats standing on a playground in the heat with everyone else.

Individual Strawberry Basil Crisps

makes 8 5 1/2 inch round crisps (in individual gratin dishes, which are shallow 1 1/4 inches) or 1 9 x 13-inch baking dish.*

for the crumb:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and frozen (or very cold)
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup old fashioned rolled oats (or gluten free oats)
  • 2 tablespoons tightly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • fat pinch kosher salt

for the filling:

  • 8 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 5-6 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade (optional)

*you don’t have to, but if you want more crumb on either the individual servings, or you’re making the large 9 x 13 pan version, double the crumb topping. You may have some leftover, but when is leftover crumb ever a “problem,” anyway. 

make the crumb:

Preheat oven to 375˚F. Butter bottom and sides either 8 5 1/2-inch shallow gratin dishes or 8 4 1/2-inch ramekins.

In a medium bowl, add the flour and drop the frozen butter cubes in; toss to coat. Add the oats, brown sugar, granulated sugar and salt and use your fingers to rub the mixture together until it is evenly distributed and it resembles coarse crumbs. Work patiently; it doesn’t have to be perfect, but you want everything to be evenly combined. Place in the fridge until ready to top your crisps.

make the filling:

In a large bowl using a wooden spoon, stir together the strawberries, sugar, lemon juice and zest, and cornstarch until cornstarch has dissolved and everything is combined. Divide evenly into 8 5 1/2-inch shallow gratin dishes (usually about 1 1/2 inches deep) or into 4 1/2-inch ramekins that are 2 inches deep; either will work. Remove your topping from the refrigerator and mound it over your berry mixture, keeping it centered in middle and working outward, about 1/4 cup per dish.

Bake for 22-26 minutes on a rack centered in your oven; if you prefer, fit them all on a baking sheet for easy entry and removal, but I prefer to let them hang out on the oven rack. When they are done, you should bubbling fruit around the sides and golden crumb on top. Cool 15-20 minutes before serving. Serve at room temperature or warm, and top with basil strands just prior to serving.

Serving note: these crisps are exceptional with vanilla ice cream. If you choose to serve it with ice cream, you should have enough headroom on top to serve it directly in the gratin or ramekin, which is nice and makes for a pretty little self-contained dessert. If serving with ice cream, wait to sprinkle the basil until the ice cream is on top: it looks pretty on the whiteness of the vanilla, and the flavors match nicely together also.

Makes 8 servings. Certainly these can be stored for leftover nibbles/breakfast, but if you’re making them for a party, make them right before you serve them, and eat your leftovers privately in the 1-2 days which follow.

If you make this in a 9 x 13 dish, you probably could squeeze 12 servings out of it, but why deny yourself, really.

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27 Comments on "individual strawberry basil crisps."

  1. Faygie says:

    We’re hoping to take the kids berry/fruit/veg picking on a Sunday soon. And if they enjoy it I may take them a few more times throughout the summer. Unfortunately for us, we need to drive a good 45 minutes at least to get there. You’re SO lucky to have a farm so close by!

    These crisps look so good! And I ALWAYS double the topping when I make crisps. Always.

    • shannon says:

      Fun! I bet they’ll have a blast (weather permitting, which was always a good indicator of how much fun we were going to have when we were kids; hate the hot!). I am lucky to have this little farm close by; we have a much larger one about an hour or so from me that does all the berries – apples and pumpkins too, in the fall – and i’ll have to trek it out there for my beloved blueberries later this season. Worth it, but a long trip in the car with kids, for sure. If it’s nice out, i may try to go again this weekend.

      thanks! I usually double crumb topping; i restrained myself for these, but only because my berries were like, absolutely picture perfect. it’s like i couldn’t do it (but i normally would do it). :)

  2. I’m just…enamored with these beautiful crisps. I’ve never been strawberry picking…I don’t even know that we have farms around here. But, I can walk out of my front door and pick a peach from our orchard. So, if you want to do that, please come visit. :D

  3. Lucky you! And the best part is they remember those days. The crisp looks gorgeous-the memories more so!

    • shannon says:

      Abbe, I couldn’t have said that better myself; it’s so cool knowing i’m doing something she’ll remember just like i do from when my mom took me. The Wee has a memory like you wouldn’t believe, so i hope it sticks in her head. :)

  4. We used to go strawberry picking every summer in Martha’s Vineyard. You’re right, there’s something just so satisfying about picking the berries yourself, and leaving with stained lips and fingers from sampling (shhh, don’t tell!). I wish there was someplace closer to me now for picking…Nate is in LOVE with black raspberries and since we missed their picking-season last year, it’s on our list of things to do this summer. I would never think to add basil to a crips, but I always make a salad in the summer with strawberries and basil, so why not! Sounds awesome :)

    • shannon says:

      are you SERIOUS, Amy? did you just say that you used to go strawberry picking in MARTHA’S VINEYARD every summer. We’re DONE. *drops mic*
      Just kidding, but i’m SO envious right now. and yes! we could not get especially the raspberry and blackberry juice scrubbed from our faces and hands for days; it was the best.

      have you ever had strawberry basil jam? it’s difficult to describe how the basil really adds to the strawberries, but i tried it once a few summers ago, and it’s really quite wonderful. it’s like you taste strawberries amplified by something, but it would be hard to put your finger on what it was, exactly, if you didn’t know. it’s weird how they work together in baked things.

      • Haha, yes, I was very lucky! We used to have a house on the Vineyard and I spent all my summers there until my parents sold the house when I was in college. To this day, my brother and I haven’t forgiven them! I need to make that strawberry basil jam! I bet it would taste awesome with some goat cheese too…for some reason that combo is in my head.

        • shannon says:

          they sold the house?!?! Now i’m mad by proxy. tell your parents. :)
          …and now all i can think about is strawberry basil jam with goat cheese. that would be PERFECT.

  5. Amrita says:

    Yum! Crisps are the best. I make a peach and raspberry one that I pretty much HAVE to make every late summer. I know I should try other fruits but I just love that combo so much.
    As for strawberry-picking, I did it once in Seattle when i was 13 and it was the best. Fresh strawberries are so different from the grocery store! I love the abundance of strawberries in St Louis, and especially how easy it is to get it locally.
    Also, your daughter is adorable!

    • shannon says:

      Aren’t they? and peach/raspberry sounds incredible: i’m going to have to try that this summer, for sure! peaches and berries go so well together, just in general. i love summer fruit. :)
      I bet the strawberries in seattle are fantastic. It’s hard to describe why they differ from the grocery store, but every single thing about them is better. More juice, red through and through (mine had not one speck of white inside) and just incredibly delicious; like technicolor berries. crazy.
      thank you very much. she’s pretty sweet, and right now we’re going through a phase where everything i do, she wants to do. sunglasses on head? check. strawberry picking? check. it makes her even cuter. :)

  6. Look at wee one go! Fresh is the best. The flavor is more robust and earthy. These crisps look perfect!

  7. Brianne says:

    Oh, oh, oh!! Strawberry picking! I loved doing that as a kid! I’m glad the Wee One had a good time. I finally went picking as an adult when I was in college (like 5-6 years ago-ish), but haven’t been since. I cannot wait until the good berries start showing up here. Strawberries evoke such great memories of childhood summers, plus they’re totally delicious. Way to pair them with basil in this drool-inducing crisp!

    • shannon says:

      She had the best time! So much fun to see her doing what I used to do as a kid. I agree: strawberries do evoke lots of childhood memories for me as well, along with blueberries, cherries, and a few other foods. I bit into a cherry the other day and i swear for about 1.5 seconds i was sitting at the patio table at my grandma’s pool: SO amazing how that happens. Someday i’m coming up to pick blueberries with you…i’m like, waiting in anticipation for that around here, but i know they won’t be as tremendously good as yours up there.

  8. Those berries look ridiculously good. I am so sad that I live in the desert. I know there are peaches and citrus within driving distance but berries… especially the rate I’ve been going through them… good lord what I wouldn’t give to be able to go somewhere and pick them! Of course, not here, in the 115 degree heat…

    But I think my store-bought berries will have to do for this one… I was just thinking of making a crisp with the plums from our back yard tree. I think your crumb topping will be just perfect!

    • shannon says:

      I am sad FOR you that you live in the desert: berries do not grow well in…well, Hades. Although yes: you DO have some pretty amazing citrus and peaches. so, there’s that. I’m guessing that even if they DID have strawberry fields out there, the chances of you heat-stroking out during a pick session would be too great to allow you to do that. #sunburn #tootoohot.

      they will do just fine: definitely i’ve had better luck with the organic kind looking like the sort i picked. And you HAD TO DROP in there that you had a plum tree, didn’t you…that’s like my obesssion currently: the plum/plumcot/apricot/pluot onslaught going on here at my grocery. spoiler alert: they are ALL DELICIOUS. go now to the tree in your yard.

  9. Monica says:

    Looks delicious! I was never a fruit-dessert person, or a fruit person (as a child) at that – I just didn’t have room for it since I was always stuffing my face with chocolate. I’m so glad I’ve come around! I’ve been craving strawberries lately. Have got to get to the farmer’s market! I can’t believe you picked a few pounds for less than $5! I love a good deal…and a fun outing with your child. : )

    • shannon says:

      it’s so funny how that is: as a kid, you ARE most likely in one camp or the other. the fruit desserts camp OR the chocolate camp (which extends out to peanut butter sometimes as well). It’s nice to grow up and round out what you like, for sure! It really was fun to do; makes me much more inclined to seek out the fresh stuff; a good reminder of how awesome farmers and farmers’ markets are.

  10. Ashley says:

    Seriously picture perfect strawberries! I can practically taste them from your photos…They look so much better than the grocery store berries I’ve been eating (and loving because, well, I’m a berry whore. There, I’ve admitted it.)
    Once again, genius on the individual portion. You get to use awesome cookware, you get your own serving (again forgoing the not so lovely image of me protectively hovering over the non-individual dessert, guarding my prize), and you maximize the fruit-to-crumble ratio, which is always the best part. I’ll have to try the fresh basil on top – it’s such a lovely surprise to the crisp! And now I have my own fledgling garden (all herbs or flowers this year), complete with basil!

    • shannon says:

      you know, Ashley, i was trying very hard to not knock store-berries when i wrote that post. And indeed, i don’t look down on them; they are there for me, and certainly i’m not getting up every day to harvest berries in the fields, right? I’m a berry whore too, and there’s nothing really wrong with the store-bought ones (although i will say i try to keep that organic; strawberries are part of the Dirty Dozen) but if you have the option? YES DO THE FRESH FIELD ONES.
      the awesome cookware is something i really try to incorporate, because you hate to let adorable little gratin dishes just sit around collecting dust in the summertime, right? Congrats on the garden! Herbs and flowers are by far the easiest – i’m grumbling a little because bunnies have now taken a good portion of my pepper plants, so the herbs are great, but i’m like “seriously; all this work for nothing!” and sort of wish i had just stuck to the herbs and flowers. basil is essential for herb gardens! so much pesto….OH SO MUCH PESTO. *yay*

  11. 1. Strawberries love basil, and I love crisps. Thus, I will love strawberry basil crisps.
    2. I think I need to get some children working for me. I’d pay them with cupcakes.
    3. We used to hit the U-Picks when we were kids. I don’t remember loving it, but 2.0 and I have plans to pick our own berries (and apples) this year. It the best way to get the perfect pint! (Or bushel.)

    • shannon says:

      1. wholeheartedly agree; that’s an excellent logic problem/solution.
      2. totally: tiny fingers = great detail work. bribe them with cupcakes? they’ll do anything and stay in line. at least the smart ones will.
      3. probably i romanticize the U-Picks from when i was little. i’ll say i remember the experience fondly in general, however: there were moments i may have hated it. like when there were bee encounters. hot days. mushy berries/apples. thorns. and so on. so yes, it’s not as fairy-like as one would think it should be, but it’s the best and only way to really get what you want. verdict? worth it. maybe i should come up there this fall for apple-picking…2.0 could probably launch the Wee One up to get the good ones at the top. ;)

  12. carla says:

    Hi Shannon. Discovered your blog thru Movita’s. Been backreading through your posts nd just had to comment on this one. We love berry picking too! Sadly the climate here in the Philippines isn’t conducive to planting these. We have to drive 6-7 hours to get to a strawberry farm. And the irony of it, my daughter declared it’s her fave fruit! Argh! So many tropical fruits in abundancve and she had to love something not readily available to us.

    • shannon says:

      Hi Carla! Nice to meet you! berry picking is so much fun, right? i commend you for driving that far to get to a strawberry farm…that’s quite a hike! And i was just thinking that: i imagine you have stunning fruits in the Philippines just all over, and for your daughter to pick strawberries? Typical kid, right? it’s always the things that’s hardest. :)

      • Carla says:

        Right so typical! She’s only been there once. And she wants to go back there next year. I mostly just wait for strawberries to go on sale (still expensive even if on sale) and them I buy a lot and freeze about half of it.

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