Cremebruleewith fruit
Creme Brulee with Fruit.

Oatmeal: Part II

To celebrate National Oatmeal Month, grab a box of your favorite Irish brand — Flahavan’s and McCann’s are two that are widely available in U.S. supermarkets — and enjoy the humble grain well beyond breakfast. The month of January happens a to be the perfect time to enjoy a warm fruity crumble as well, so keep the box handy for one of these crispy, oatmeal-topped desserts.

PEAR AND GINGER CRUMBLE WITH VANILLA BEAN WHIPPED CREAM

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SERVES 6 TO 8

         Add crystallized ginger to kickstart this ultra-easy pear dessert. 

For the filling

3 pounds Bartlett or Anjou pears, peeled, cored and sliced

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons minced crystallized ginger chops

1 1/2 tablespoon flour

For the topping

1 cup flour

2/3 cup quick-cooking (not instant) oatmeal

2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

4 ounces cold butter, cut into small pieces

For the whipped cream

1 cup heavy (whipping) cream

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise, seeds scraped out or

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

1. Make filling. Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a 9-inch glass baking dish.

2. In a medium bowl, combine pears and lemon juice. Stir in sugar, crystallized ginger and flour. Spoon into prepared pan. 

3. Make topping. In a medium bowl, combine flour, oatmeal, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and walnuts. Add butter; stir with a fork until moist clumps form. Sprinkle over pears.

4. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until topping is golden and pears are tender. 

5. Make whipped cream. In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or with a hand mixer), beat cream and sugar on high speed until soft peaks form. Add vanilla bean seeds or paste; beat until stiff peaks form. 

6. To serve, spoon crumble onto dessert plates; top with cream.        

MIXED BERRY CRUMBLE POTS

SERVES 8

         The recipe for these little pots of fruit with a crumble topping originated with a friend from Wexford, the sunny southeast corner of Ireland noted for its strawberries. I’d normally be offering the recipe in June at the height of the season, but these little pots are delicious at any time of the year since you can use a combination of fresh and frozen fruit.

For the filling

2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

1 cup fresh or frozen blackberries

1 /4 cup cornstarch

5 cups sliced fresh strawberries

For the topping

1/2 cup quick-cooking (not instant) Irish oatmeal

1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar

1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, for serving (optional)

Mint spring, for serving (optional)

1. Make filling. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter eight 8-ounce ramekins.

2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and cornstarch. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until fruits break down and mixture thickens. Spoon into prepared ramekins; arrange strawberries over top.

3. Make topping. In a small bowl, combine oatmeal, sugar, hazelnuts and cinnamon.  Add butter; stir with a fork until moist clumps form. Sprinkle over fruit. Place ramekins on a baking sheet.

4. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until topping is browned and filling is bubbling. Remove from oven; let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. 

5. To serve, place ramekins on a dessert plate. Garnish with a mint sprig (if using). Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if desired.

TOASTED OATMEAL AND BUSHMILLS CRÈME BRÛLÉE 

WITH MIXED BERRY COMPOTE

SERVES 6

This version of the traditional French dessert takes on an Irish touch with the addition of toasted steel-cut oats and the ubiquitous Irish sprit from Bushmills, the oldest licensed distillery in Ireland.

For the crème brûlée 

2 tablespoons steel-cut Irish oats

2 tablespoons Bushmills Irish whiskey

5 large egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling tops 

2 cups heavy (whipping) cream

Mint sprigs, for garnish

For the berry compote

1 1/2 cups water

1 1/2 cups sugar

16 ounces mixed berries

Mint sprigs, for garnish (optional) 

1. Make crème brûlée. Preheat oven to 375°. Butter six 6-ounce ramekins.

2. Spread oats out on a shallow ovenproof pan; toast for 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from oven; pour on whiskey, which will evaporate from heat of pan. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.

3. In a small bowl, combine egg yolks and sugar; whisk until sugar dissolves. Stir in cream and oats. Spoon mixture into prepared ramekins. Place ramekins in a large baking pan; add hot water to come halfway up sides of dishes

4. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until custard is set. Remove from oven; let cool completely on a wire rack. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 24 hours.

5. Make compote. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring water and sugar to boil. Boil for 2 minutes; reduce heat. Add berries; cook for about 10 minutes, or until berries break down slightly.

7. Preheat broiler. Sprinkle each custard with a little sugar. Place ramekins under broiler 4 inches from heat source; broil for 1 to 2 minutes (or use a kitchen blowtorch and move the flame constantly over the surface until the sugar melts, bubbles, and lightly browns). With oven mitts to protect your hands, remove ramekins from pan.

8. To serve, place ramekins on a dessert plate. Garnish with a mint sprig (if using); serve with compote.

BLACKBERRY-ALMOND CRUMBLE CAKE

SERVES 10 to 12

         Unlike a crumble topping that browns while baking, this buttery topping literally melts into the fruit and cake. Serve it with vanilla ice cream, clotted cream, or whipped cream. 

For the topping

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

4 large eggs, beaten

For the cake

8 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs, beaten

3/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk

1 cup slivered almonds, ground

1 1/4 cups blackberries, halved

Vanilla ice cream or Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream, for serving

1. Make topping. In a small bowl, combine butter, sugars and cinnamon. Cool slightly; stir in eggs. 

2. Make cake. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray with flour.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer), beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs. Stir in flour, salt and milk. Spoon batter into prepared pan; sprinkle almonds on top. Scatter blackberries over almonds; pour topping over berries. 

4. Bake for 65 to 70 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into center comes out clean. Remove from oven; let cool on wire rack for 10 minutes. Release sides of pan.

5. To serve, cut cake into slices. Serve warm with ice cream or Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream. 

Margaret Johnson is the author of 12 cookbooks. For further details on her work, or to order a signed cookbook, visit irishcook.com.