Learn how to make a refreshing blueberry crisp made with natural sweetener only, that's gluten free, and vegan if you use maple syrup as sweetener. Try not to eat all the topping by itself, it's pretty awesome.
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Blueberry crisp is such a fun and light dessert! It can take some trial and error to get a crisp just right though, according to how you like it. That's why I love this recipe- it's so easy to modify it to add other berries, make it saucier, make it thicker, make a topping with less sweetness, half the batch...you name it, it's easy peasy.
What's the Difference Between a Crisp and Crumble?
I see a lot of people asking if crisp and crumble are interchangeable. While they're very similar, they are different.
Crisps are typically made with oats, flour, sugar, and butter, with a fruit base.
Crumbles are pretty much the same thing, but they don't include oats in the topping.
While I love a basic crisp recipe with the butter, sugar, oats...I like mine better. It's healthier in some respects, has more complex flavors than just using a refined white sugar, and it can easily be made gluten free and vegan friendly!
Let's check out what goes into this recipe!
For the Crisp Topping
- Rolled Oats: they have more texture than quick oats, which soften quickly with any moisture. Find certified gluten free oats if you need this to be gluten free.
- Oatmeal: I use my nutribullet to quickly blend up rolled oats into a course meal. It's not quite as fine as flour, although you could replace it with oat flour.
- Almond Meal: Just like the oat meal, I blend up raw almonds using my nutribullet into a course meal. By using this method it's somewhat wet and not dry like an almond flour. This ingredient helps the topping stick together and gives you added natural sweetness. If using this method isn't an option then you could try using almond flour, you just might get a dryer topping.
- Cinnamon and Sea Salt are the 2 dry seasonings.
- Unrefined Coconut Oil: with it being unrefined, you get a touch of that coconut flavor without it overpowering. If you only have refined that will do just fine. Make sure it's soft or melted at first to evenly combine the mixture, then the coconut oil will help the topping firm up in the fridge before sprinkling on the berries.
- Vanilla Extract is optional but gives a great addition to the flavoring. It also adds a bit more moisture to the topping so it's not as dry.
- Blackstrap Molasses and Raw Honey are the sweeteners I love to use. Molasses takes the place of brown sugar other recipes might use. Raw honey gives a lot of sweetness but also helps to stick the topping together, especially once chilled. If you're looking for a vegan recipe, just replace the honey with maple syrup. It might not be as thick and sticky of a topping but it will work fine.
For the Blueberry Filling
- Fresh or Frozen Blueberries will work great for this recipe. If you're using fresh berries, make sure they're plump and have sweet flavor. I've made a batch with smaller, firmer berries and it made a difference, in not a good way. The juicier the berry, the juicier the end result. Frozen berries work super well for any crisp. Just make sure they're thawed, and use up all the liquid juices left in the bag!
- Freshly Squeezed Lemon and Orange Juice add a perfect zip and freshness. I haven't used any liquid lemon juice (bottled) but it could alter the flavor a lot so I recommend fresh. Orange juice is optional but adds just a touch of a different sweetness that really does stand out. If you have an orange on hand, try it. If you don't, just keep on truckin with just the lemon.
- Arrowroot Powder is what I use as a thickening agent. It's a higher quality, and a healthier product to use over cornstarch, and it's gluten free when you need a flour alternative. I know that cornstarch is most commonly used and you can use that instead if you don't have arrowroot powder! **Side note, arrowroot powder is a great natural diaper powder ?, you're welcome.
- Honey or Maple Syrup both work great in the filling. Honestly, I alternate every time I make it and I never remember when I use which one, it just always turns out great.
Tips for the Perfect Crisp
Chill it! When you use coconut oil and honey, you'll get an even crispier and firmer topping when it's chilled after baking. This makes it great for eating cold, but of course you can reheat it for a few minutes and it will crisp with heat as well.
Don't get too hooked on the recipe. Try a mix of berries and apples, seasonings, and natural sweeteners.
Don't Overdo the Arrowroot. Whether you're using arrowroot, cornstarch, flour...don't use too much. I've made this recipe with 4 cups of fresh berries and 4 ½ cups frozen berries (which is equal to about 5 ½-6 cups fresh). Either time, 2 teaspoon arrowroot worked great. I've tried using 3 teaspoon with frozen berries thinking there would be way too much liquid and it would never thicken. It was still tasty but it was too thick to my liking. This recipe is so good when it's a little runny and saucy and you miss out on that with too much thickener! You really want it thick? Go ahead and use the 3 tsp!
Don't Use Too High of Heat. Many crisp recipes call for using 375℉. Believe me, I've tried it and 350℉ is so much better! Let me tell you why. When you bake at a slightly lower temperature you slowly cook the fruit and it gives it more of a sauce. It can dry it out using higher heat. Also, you get a perfectly golden crisp topping with the lower heat and it's easy to keep it in a bit longer to darken it up if you want. With the higher heat it doesn't brown as evenly and gets darker and dryer than preferred, which alters the flavor as well. Just use 350℉, trust!
Equipment Used for this Recipe
- nutribullet Personal Blender for blending the oats and almonds. I have a nutribullet with a flat blade for "making flours." I say that in quotes because although that's what it's intended for I prefer using the other blade. This nutribullet comes with only 1 blade and works great.
- 11-cup Simply Store Pyrex works best for me and it's easy to store leftovers!
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Naturally Sweetened Blueberry Crisp
For the Topping
- 1 cups rolled oats
- ¼ cups almond meal (blended almonds, or use almond flour)
- ¼ cups oatmeal (blended rolled oats, or use oat flour)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- pinch sea salt
- ¼ cups soft/melted coconut oil (softened or melted)
- 1 teaspoon blackstrap molasses
- 3 tablespoon raw honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Blueberry Filling
- 5-6 cups fresh blueberries (or 4 ½-5 cups thawed from frozen)
- 2 teaspoon fresh lemon Juice
- 2-3 teaspoon optional freshly squeezed orange juice
- 2 teaspoon arrowroot powder (option to use cornstarch)
- 2 teaspoon honey (or maple syrup)
Make the Topping
- Combine all dry ingredients for the topping. Add wet ingredients and mix together well. Refrigerate until cool and slightly firm (at least 10-15 minutes). Make this step ahead and just refrigerate overnight!
Make the Blueberry Filling
- Preheat oven to 350°F, use middle rack.
- In a large bowl, combine blueberries (5-6 cups fresh or about 4 ½-5 cups thawed from frozen).Add freshly squeezed lemon and orange juice, arrowroot powder, and maple syrup or honey. Gently mix until combined.
- Use a baking dish about 9 x 7 inches (11 cup or 2.75 qt Pyrex). Lightly Spray the bottom with olive oil.Pour in blueberry filling. Drop chunks of the topping on top. Use large chunks instead of finely sprinkling it.Bake at 350°F for 40 minutes uncovered. Let cool before enjoying and it's best if you refrigerate it to help the topping firm up!Try this with my Homemade Whipped Cream recipe!