A nectarine and blackberry crisp combines two of summer’s less talked about fruits and highlights just how fantastic they are, especially when paired together. A simple, old-fashioned oat topping adds enough crunchy and chewy texture to make it all irresistible.
The temptation to throw multiple stone fruits and berries into a crisp or cobbler always looms at the height of summer. However, narrowing it down to one or two fruits lets you understand each in a more intimate way, hopefully sparking ideas for future creations. Nectarines vary from slightly acidic to heady with a tropical funk, or explosively citric, depending on the crop.
In this recipe nectarines are seasoned simply with sour cream and sugar. I ask that you do a bit more with the blackberries, cooking them into a quick compote. This might seem like extra effort, but it allows the tart, seedy berries to become saucy and tender. Adding the berries without prior cooking can cause a soggy mess—the berries will break down and bleed their juices without thickening sufficiently in the baking process.
Now that we’ve discussed fruit, let’s talk about topping—arguably the most important part of a crisp. A simple crumble of oats, brown sugar, and butter is the best pairing for these fruits. Because cooked nectarines and blackberries aren’t very textured, toasty oats also lend a wonderful chew.–Roxana Jullapat
Nectarine and Blackberry Crisp
For the filling
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
- 1 pint blackberries
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 pound nectarines* peeled if desired
- 1/4 cup sour cream preferably full fat
For the topping
- 4 tablespoons (2 oz) cold unsalted butter cut into 1/2-inch (12 mm) cubes
- 3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (do not use quick cooking oats)
- 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
- Vanilla ice cream for serving
Make the filling
- Place an oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 350ºF (180°C).
- In a small saucepan over high heat, combine 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar with 1/4 cup of the water. Cook until the sugar dissolves and becomes syrupy, 5 to 8 minutes.
- Add the blackberries and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, to release their juices, about 5 minutes.
- In a small bowl, dissolve 1 tablespoon of the cornstarch in the remaining 2 tablespoons of water and add to the berries. Stir constantly until the compote has thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a separate container and let cool completely.
- While the compote cools, cut each nectarine into eight equal wedges, discarding the pits. In a large mixing bowl, toss the nectarine wedges with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar, the remaining 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, and the sour cream. Let the nectarines macerate at room temperature while you make the topping.
Make the topping
- In a food processor, pulse the cold butter, oats, and brown sugar until a coarse, irregular meal with pea-size butter pieces forms.
- To assemble the crisp, gently combine the cooled berry compote with the nectarine mixture using a spatula. Dump the fruit filling into a 9-inch (23-cm) round or 9-by-9-inch square baking dish and top with a generous layer of oat crumble.
- Place the baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet to catch the drips and bake for 25 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet and bake until the top is golden brown and the juices start to form thick bubbles, 20 to 30 minutes more. Don’t be alarmed if the thick juices spill over and drip a little on the sides of the baking dish—this is a sign of a jammy filling. Rotating the baking sheet halfway through the baking process will ensure that the crisp bakes evenly.
- The crisp will benefit from cooling for 20 minutes before digging in. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This crisp reheats very well, so if you plan to serve it later, let cool completely and reheat in a preheated 350ºF (180°C) oven for 10 to 15 minutes.
*How do I know when my nectarines are ripe?Nectarines (and peaches, and most other stone fruit) have a few key signs to look for when you're craving them right away. They'll be firm to the touch with a little give—not squishy and not solid. They should smell sweet. No fragrance means that they're going to need a little more time. Ripe nectarines should be a deep color that ranges from yellow to red (depending on the variety, of course), with no green spots. Finally, you want them to have a rounder bottom, not unlike a peach. Nectarines still have more of a point than peaches but you still want to see a gentle curve. And much like peaches, nectarines will continue to ripen off the tree so if you can only find ones that are still a little firm, take heart knowing that you can still use them. Unfortunately, it will still take a little time, up to 4 days, depending on how young they are. Placing them in a paper bag and letting them rest on your counter, out of sunlight, for a day or two will help. Putting banana in the bag will help, too. The ethylene gas produced by the banana will urge them along.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
A crisp is always a wonderful summer dessert. This nectarine and blackberry crisp is a beautiful blend of fruit flavors with a topping that adds the right amount of crunch and chewiness. (The topping is always the best part of a crisp for me and this one does not disappoint!) The sour cream added to the nectarines adds a nice bit of tang and the extra step of making a compote with the blackberries is well worth it for the body it adds to the fruit filling. I did let the crisp cool for about 30 minutes, but definitely serve it warm. It would be delicious with a good vanilla ice cream. Since I did not have any ice cream, I whipped some heavy cream with just a bit of confectioners’ sugar and it was delicious served with a good cup of coffee. IF you have leftovers, it reheats well. I reheated in a convection oven and we enjoyed it just as much the second time!
Fruit crisps are pure comfort, and this nectarine and blackberry crisp is a happy marriage! I loved the way the nectarines remain in larger pieces and still have some texture. It was a bit too sweet for me; I prefer less sweet fruit desserts. But, for most, I think it would be delicious, as is. I will definitely make this again and again, and would happily serve it to company. This was summer-y delicious.
We enjoyed it just slightly warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It was good with a dollop of Greek yogurt for breakfast, too! I want to try the recipe with blueberries, instead of blackberries.
Originally published July 10, 2021