I was making cookies recently, a new recipe that didn't quite work out. Sure it made cookies, but I added a little too many ground hazelnuts added "flour" to the dry ingredients which made for a very dry dough that was hard to work into a dough without overworking. I managed to roll it out and cut out a batch , but a second roll wasn't going to work so nicely. Just as I was hovering over the trash can, ready to scrape it all in, I stopped myself in the nick of time and thought, "STREUSEL"!
With a toss of my hands and a few squeezes here and there, a toss onto a baking sheet, what I was looking at was streusel, which is nothing but a crumbly crunchy topping made of sugar, flour and butter, exactly what my cookies were made of. While the dough wasn't holding together enough for cookies, it certainly was for this purpose. In fact I've made a similar combination before from scratch, so this was a buttery bonus.
I baked the mixture until lightly browned all over and crunchy. In the freezer this will keep a month thrown on top of fruit pies, muffins, ice cream, canned fruit or any dessert you want a little texture. Heck this could even be ground with a little extra sugar and butter and become a cookie crust for cheeseacake. But where this stuff really becomes a life saver is simply strewn over bubbling frozen fruit, a nice change to the usual oatmeal based crumbles I usually make and a super quick dessert.
I dug down into my abyss of a deep freeze and took out the last dregs of a bag of sour cherries. So bright and crimson they would make a great Valentines dessert on their own. Such gems as these need little to make them special, just some sugar to make them palatable is all they need, but a kiss of crunchy streusel adds a pleasing texture.
This is the kind of baking and cooking I love the most. Opening a fridge at any given day and being able to make a great meal or a fancy looking dessert with ease is something that takes a bit of time, but it is ever more challenging and rewarding than simply opening a recipe book, going to the grocery store and buy the ingredients and then cooking it.
Remember this technique next time a cookie dough and you don't meet eye to eye. While this won't work with anything with additions like chocolate chips or fruit, any shortbread of butter cookie dough as well as anything coconut or oat based certainly will make a great mix.
But you certainly don't need to wait for something to go wrong to make this dessert, and you can make it right away:
Sour Cherry Cookie Streusal Crumble, serves 4-6
substitute almost any frozen fruit here such as a mixture of berries, rhubarb or stone fruits. Reduce sugar depending on the fruit.
1 1/2 pounds sour cherries, defrosted and drained of excess liquid
1/2 cup + 2Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 heaping cup of hazelnuts
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1/8 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 325.
Lay the whole nuts on a baking sheet and roast in a preheated 350 oven for about 8 minutes until toasted. Pour onto a dish towel, gather it into a ball and rub with you hand to remove as much of the skins as possible, put aside to cool, then finely chop in a food processor.
Beat butter in a large mixing bowl with the sugar. The mixture should lighten. Stir in flour and salt until combined and then stir in hazelnuts. You aren't making a cookie dough so it just needs to be combined.
Using your hands, squeeze and crumble the dough onto a large baking sheet making irregular clumps of dough. Spread out in a thin layer. Bake for about 20- 25 minutes until golden brown. Underbaking will make a soggy streusal. Cool on a rack and then transfer to a container.
Increase oven temperature to 375. Stir together cherries, sugar, cornstarch and vinegar + 1/4 cup drained cherry juice. Place in a shallow pie plate or casserole, about 1 1/2 litre capacity, or 4 gratin dishes. Bake until bubbling all over and the juices have thickened. Remove from the oven and scatter the streusal over top. Use as much as you would like, leaving enough space to see the bubbling fruit between. Cool 10 minutes or enjoy room temperature. Serve with ice cream.