Ginger lime mixed berry crisps

The first day of April felt like a full-blown summer’s day (good one, mama nature), and I accordingly was struck with a sudden craving for berries. We’re still a long way off from berry season in the NY area  — they usually appear at the markets around mid-June — and the trucked-in organic strawberries at Fairway are still white-topped and priced at $8 a quart. Organic frozen berries are a much better way to go in the off-season, so I decided to pick up a couple of bags at the grocery store — a blend of raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries — not sure exactly what I would do with them. On my way home the idea of mini berry crisps began to crystallize in my mind, and by the time I reached our front door the idea of turning on the oven in our 80-degree apartment seemed totally reasonable. Because sometimes we have to suffer for dessert.

Going with the whole summer-for-a-day theme, I tossed the berries with fresh ginger and lime (zest and juice) — a gentle hint of tropical goodness that married perfectly with the sweet, tangy fruit. I also added a little maple syrup to amplify the berries’ natural sweetness, a touch of vanilla extract, and arrowroot powder to thicken their juices. (I might have also played with the idea of adding a nip of gin, since this was most definitely gin and tonic weather, but reined myself in before that happened. Maybe next time.) The topping came together as a simple combination of almond flour, shredded coconut, coconut oil and maple syrup. Gluten free and grain free, it bakes to a perfect golden brown, and the toasted coconut is a delicious complement to the ginger and lime in the filling.

These mini crisps make a refreshing, summery and not-too-sweet dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream (or coconut cream), and since they’re relatively virtuous, I think they also make a perfectly respectable breakfast with a spoonful of plain yogurt or fresh ricotta. When rhubarb comes into season, I’ll be adding its tart rosy stalks into the mix, and come summer, all manner of fresh berries and stone fruits. Peach and blueberry would be a particularly good combination.

Ginger lime mixed berry crisps 
Makes 4 individual-serving-sized crisps

for the berry filling:
one 12-ounce bag frozen mixed berries
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root (peeled before grating)
1 lime, grated zest and juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon arrowroot powder

for the topping:
4 tablespoons almond flour or almond meal (I used Bob’s Red Mill blanched almond flour)
4 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease four 4-ounce ramekins with a little coconut oil.

Place all ingredients for berry filling in a medium-sized bowl and toss gently to combine. Set aside.

Combine almond flour, shredded coconut, sliced almonds, and pinch of salt in a bowl and toss to combine. Stir in coconut oil and maple syrup.

Divide berry mixture evenly among prepared ramekins, filling them about 2/3 full. Top with coconut-almond mixture. Place ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until filling is bubbling and topping is golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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