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  • Writer's pictureCulinary Cam

Crumble vs. Crisp: Summer Plum Crisp with a Beurre Noisette Streusel

I recently read that the difference between a crumble and a crisp is that a crumble is a crisp without oats in the streusel. Since I almost always include oats for an added toothiness, I guess I should rename all of these as 'crisps.' But, moving forward, crisps these are!

I created a beurre noisette (browned butter) to use in the crisp topping.

Beurre Noisette [bur nwah-zet] noun, French Cookery. Literally 'butter the color of a hazelnut.'

Browned butter is one of those magical ingredients that transforms the flavor of just about anything be it sweet or savory. Its nutty taste and aroma are out of this world. And it can add a creative twist to any recipe that includes butter.


  • 2 pounds ripe plums, pitted and sliced into thick wedges

  • 3 Tablespoons flour

  • 1 Tablespoon organic granulated sugar

Beurre Noisette Streusel

  • 1 cup flour

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats

  • 1 Tablespoons dried cranberries, raisins, or currants (optional*)

  • 1 Tablespoon sliced almonds, chopped pecans or chopped pistachios (optional*)

  • 1/2 cup organic granulated sugar

  • 1/4 cup organic turbinado sugar

  • 2 Tablespoons organic dark brown sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

  • Also needed: vanilla ice cream, for serving

*These additions are completely optional. I just love the texture that they add to the streusel. Feel free to use what you have on-hand or skip these completely. You decide!


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place plum wedges in a mixing bowl. Add in the flour and granulated sugar. Toss to coat, then turn the fruit into the bottom of a buttered baking dish.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the oats, nuts and dried fruit, if using. Add in the three types of sugars, salt, and spices.

To make beurre noisette: place butter in a pan over medium heat. Swirl the pan occasionally to be sure the butter is cooking evenly. As the butter melts, it will foam and begin to darken. The color will progress from a pale lemon yellow to golden straw hue and, finally, to a hazelnut brown. Once you achieve the color and aroma you want, pour the beurre noisette into a glass container. The milk solids will continue to brown - and eventually burn - if you leave it in the pan.

Pour the beurre noisette into the flour mixture. Use a wooden spoon to press the topping into a crumb. Scatter the topping over the plums. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the crisp is golden and bubbling. Transfer to a rack and let stand for 15 minutes before serving with a generous scoop of cardamom ice cream.

This is one of my favorite summer desserts because it showcases the beauty of summer stone fruits. You can riff on this with peaches, apricots, any of the hybrids, or any other fruits you prefer. Be creative!

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