It's Marionberry season and it is one of my favorite berries so I decided to make these individual Marionberry Crisps. These pint-size desserts are made with plenty of juicy sweet marionberries with a crunchy topping. They're served best warm with your favorite ice. I love this recipe because depending on the occasion you can use this recipe to make just one Marionberry Crisp for yourself or you can make enough for a party.
What Are Marionberries
Marionberries are a berry that is specific to the northwest of the United States specifically, the state of Oregon. They were created in 1948 as a cross between two types of blackberries - Chehalem blackberry with an olallieberry and named after Marion county in Oregon. The berries range in color from dark red to almost black, with the darker berries being the sweetest.
Marionberries do have a distinctive taste, which is why I am always excited to see them the local markets and not only buy them to eat right away, but I buy enough to freeze. While they are similar to blackberries, marionberries are usually longer and tend to be juicier. For this recipe, the marionberries can be replaced with your favorite blackberry.
What is a Fruit Crisp
Fruit crisps are part of the dessert family that includes cobblers and crumbles. Cobblers usually have a biscuit topping, except if you are from Texas in which case a cobbler has a bottom and top crust. The same difference of opinion applies to crisps. Depending on the part of the country you are from, crisps ar made with oats, this one is not. Crumbles and crisps are very similar in that they contain basically the same ingredients.
Having said all that, fruit crisps are one of the easiest and most versatile desserts to make. It can be made year-round with whatever fresh fruit you have on hand. I love making it a lot during the summer when there is an abundance of fresh berries and stone fruit and switch to apple and pears during the fall and winter. The base ingredients are the same regardless of the fruit you use, and are typically ingredients that you have on hand.
How to Make to the Crisp Topping
The crisp topping is easy to make and has 5 basic ingredients:
- All-Purpose Flour
- Unsalted Butter
This combination of dry ingredients creates a crunchy delicious topping when baked. The dry ingredients are mixed together and then the butter is cut into cubes and worked into the dry ingredients (using your fingers or a fork) until it is crumbly. The butter should be at room temperature (65-68 degrees F) as it will be easier to work into the dry ingredients and get a crumbly texture.
For variations you can use a combination of brown sugar and white sugar, or you can add your favorite spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. Don't eliminate the salt. It's not much, but I found that it actually helps create the crumbly texture.
The crisp topping can be made in advance and refrigerated until ready to use.
Preparing the Marionberries for the Crisp
Preparing the fruit is easy, but I added this section because there are a couple of things that I learned along the way that I think are good to know.
Sweeten the Fruit to Taste. The recipe calls for 3/4 cup of sugar, but the amount of sugar you will need will depend on the natural sweetness of the fruit and your own personal taste. Taste the fruit before adding any sugar. If it is really tart you may want to add all the sugar called for in the recipe or add two-thirds (2/3) initially, taste the fruit again and then add more to taste.
Apples are Different. I discovered that because of the natural combination of sweetness and tartness in apples and natural pectin I don't need to add any sugar or thickener to the apples before adding the topping. So far this has worked really well with Granny Smith apples. If using another type of apple, make sure it is a good baking apple and taste it before deciding to add or not add sugar.
Tapioca vs. Cornstarch. This recipe uses tapioca. I like using tapioca because it is slightly sweet, produces a nice clear gel and a nice texture for the final dish. If you don't have tapioca, you can replace it with cornstarch. For every 2 tablespoons of tapioca replace it with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch.
Assembling the Marionberry Crisp
This dessert is prepared in individual 6-ounce ramekins. The recipe contains two versions: one to make two servings and another to make 6 servings if serving a larger group. I developed the two serving version when testing the recipe. It's the perfect treat when it is just you and you don't want to make a large dessert.
To get started butter the inside and top edge of the ramekin and place them on a half baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Buttering the ramekin will make it easier to get the finished the dessert out as you are eating and make clean-up easier. The parchment paper will catch any fruit that bubbles over and make clean up easier.
Next, fill the ramekin 3/4 with the prepared fruit and then top with about 1/4 cup of the topping. The fruit is going to bubble us as it cooks so don't fill it to the top with fruit. Bake the fruit crisps until the fruit starts to bubble, rotating the baking sheet halfway through the baking time.
When the crisps are done allow them to cool for 15-20 minutes before eating. The fruit juices will still be a little runny, but taste delicious. Serve plain or with your favorite ice cream. When I made these, I had just bought a lemon marionberry ice cream, so I served them with that and the combination was perfect.
With summer in full swing I hope you make this dessert. It is so good and you make it with your favorite fruit. And if you want to keep up with what is going on my kitchen and get notified when desserts are available. Sign up for my newsletter.
Other Summer Time Desserts
If you're looking for other summertime desserts or ideas check out these other goodies on the blog
- 6 - 6oz ramekins or 4-8oz ramekins
- 3/4 cup (105) grams all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (100) grams granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (100) grams light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 tablespoons (114 grams) unsalted butter room temperature
Marionberry Filling - For 6 Individual Servings
- 5 cups (626 grams) fresh marionberries
- 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
- 3 tablespoons (23 grams) tapioca
Marionberry Filling - For 2 Individual Servings
- 1 1/2 cups (190 grams) fresh marionberries
- 4 tablespoons (50 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 4 teaspoons (10 grams) tapioca
- If making less than 6 servings of the dessert I recommend making the full amount of the crisp. It can be stored in the refrigerator and used for other desserts.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and butter each of the ramekins. Line a half baking sheet with parchment paper
Cinnamon Crisp Topping
- Combine the flour, both sugars, cinnamon and salt in a medium size bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces, add it to the dry ingredients and rub the butter with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- To wash the marionberries place the berries in a colander and dip them in a bowl of cold water. Gently swish the colander in the water, then allow the berries to drain Place the berries on paper towels to soak up excess moisture.
- Taste the berries before adding the additional ingredients. If the berries are sweet, 3/4 cup of sugar should be enough. If they are tart, start with the 3/4 cup, taste the berries after all the ingredients are added and add additional sugar 1 tablespoon to taste. Let the berries sit for 5 minutes.
- Place the tapioca, sugar, and salt in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Place the marionberries (or blackberries) in a large bowl. Zest the lemon directly onto the berries until it looks like 1/2 teaspoon. Juice the lemon and add the lemon juice to the berries and toss the berries with the juice.
- Sprinkle the sugar-tapioca over the berries and use a large spoon to mix it in by stirring from the bottom of the bowl. Once the sugar-tapioca is mixed in, taste the berries. At this point add additional sugar to taste.
Assemble the Marionberry Crisp
- Fill each ramekin 2/3 full with the prepared berries. Add 1/4 cup of cinnamon crisp on top of the berries. Place the ramekins on a half baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake the crisps for 30-35 minutes until the berries start to bubble.
- Remove the crisps from the oven and allow to cool before eating. Serve with whipped cream or your favorite ice cream.