Upgraded American Desserts: 3 Favorites To Try Now

Classic Americana desserts, like crisps and cobblers, are the perfect transitional sweets for summer into fall: They’re simple, comforting, and easily tweaked by using different fruit as the season changes. But can we level for a second? We have a hard time remembering the subtle distinctions between a crisp, cobbler, buckle, grunt, brown betty, etc. without asking Siri — it’s impossible! (And we’re dessert-lovers.)
So, we’re going to make things easy: Here are our three favorite fruity desserts of the bunch, the ones we think are the most important to master, each with its own Refinery29 twist. Feel free to play around with different fruit combinations in the coming weeks!
peach-ginger-cobblerPhoto: Courtesy of Erin Phraner.
Gingery Peach Cobbler
Fresh ginger gives this Southern biscuit-topped dessert a hint of spice. If you don’t have fresh ginger, use about 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, instead, or just add to taste.
Serves: 8
For the filling:
6 cups sliced peaches
2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger (peeled)
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
For the topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
Coarse sanding sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
1. Prepare the filling: Preheat the oven to 375˚. Toss the peaches, ginger, lemon juice, flour, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in a large bowl. Transfer filling to a nine-inch pie plate or small skillet.
2. Prepare the topping: Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add the heavy cream. With a spatula, fold cream, and flour-mixture together until combined into a sticky dough.
3. Pinch biscuit dough* into clumps and arrange on top of the peach mixture in the plate; brush with melted butter and sprinkle with coarse sanding sugar, if desired. Transfer pie plate to a foil-lined baking sheet and bake until peaches are bubbling and the topping is golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.
*Swap in store-bought refrigerated biscuit dough if you don’t have time to make the topping from scratch!
sangria-crisp-3Photo: Courtesy of Erin Phraner.
Mixed-Berry Sangria Crisp
The filling of this crisp — known for its crumbly topping of flour, butter, sugar, and (often) oats — is spiked with red wine and citrus juice to evoke the flavors of summery sangria. You can make this crisp well into fall and beyond, though. Most grocery stores have berries year round and you could always use frozen berries, thawed, in a pinch!
Serves: 8
For the filling:
4 cups mixed berries
2 Macintosh apples, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 dry red wine
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp finely grated orange zest
Pinch of salt
For the topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Vanilla ice cream or red wine sorbet, for serving (optional)
1. Prepare the filling: Preheat the oven to 375˚. Toss the berries, apples, granulated sugar, red wine, flour, lemon juice, orange zest, and salt in a large bowl. Transfer filling to a medium baking dish; set aside.
2. Prepare the topping: Mix the flour, oats, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients using your fingers, pressing and rubbing, until the butter is incorporated and the mixture sticks together when pressed between your fingers. Sprinkle crumble mixture over the filling (freeze any extra in an air-tight container for up to three months).
3. Transfer baking dish to a foil-lined baking sheet and bake until the filling is bubbling and the topping is golden, about 45 minutes. Cool slightly before serving. Serve with ice cream or red wine sorbet, if desired.
pineapple-brown-betty-2Photo: Courtesy of Erin Phraner.
Pineapple-Rum Brown Betty
The star ingredient in a Brown Betty is bread. This colonial dessert is made by layering sweetened fruit with buttery DIY breadcrumbs, which soften into a pudding-like treat (think bread pudding) — the top layer of crumbs crisp up in the oven for texture. Feel free to skip the nuts if you want to save a few dollars.
Serves: 6 to 8
For the filling:
6 cups pineapple cubes (from about 2 pineapples)
1 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 tbsp rum (optional)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
For the topping:
5 slices white bread
1 cup pecans, chopped
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 to 3 tbsp packed light-brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
Vanilla ice cream, for serving (optional)
1. Prepare the filling: Preheat the oven to 375˚. Bring the pineapple, pineapple juice, light-brown sugar, rum, vanilla, and cinnamon to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and the liquid is reduced by half, about 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, prepare the topping: Put the bread on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake until toasted, three to five minutes; let cool slightly. Tear bread into pieces; transfer to a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, add the pecans and pulse until in coarse crumbs. Transfer bread-nut mixture to a bowl. Toss with the butter, brown sugar, and salt.
3. Stir half of the topping into the pineapple mixture; transfer to a nine-inch pie plate or similar (put on a foil-lined baking sheet to catch spills). Top with the remaining topping, cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake 30 minutes or until the filling is bubbling. Remove the foil and bake until the topping is golden, three to five minutes more. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

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