Haskap-Hazelnut Crunch

More hazelnuts… they’re neither local (alas; they used to be, before diseases destroyed them in the 1970s) nor in season, but I do have a fairly large bag of them in the freezer, and since shopping has been a challenge, shall we say, I have been digging into the freezer lately.

Haskaps (aka honeyberries) on the other hand are very much in season. We started picking them a couple of days ago, and must now pick them every day until they are over, which will not be in much more than a week or so. Short but, uh, no. Not sweet. That makes them a challenge for someone who wants to add as little sugar as possible. They are very much on a par with that other “fruit” of early summer: rhubarb. As I so often do these days, I decided the optimum way to use them would be in a crisp. With the amount of nuts I put in I decided it would be better called a “crunch”.

Haskaps are a lot of work to pick and then to clean, and nuts are expensive, so this is a bit of a luxurious treat. Go ahead and serve it with cream or ice cream, and serve small portions because it’s also very rich.

I put in the lower quantity of sugar in the topping, and only the honey in the fruit filling. The general consensus was that this was delicious, but would really have benefited from more sugar. So unless you are really avoiding the sugar like I am, I suggest you put it in. 

Makes 6 to 8 servings
1 hour – 30 minutes prep time

Make the Topping:
2/3 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts
2/3 cup large flake rolled oats
2/3 cup ground almonds
2 to 3 tablespoons Sucanat, coconut sugar, or dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cold unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon almond OR vanilla extract

Toast the hazelnuts in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Transfer them to a plate to cool, then rub off the skins and crush or chop them coarsely. Put them in a mixing bowl with the rolled oats and ground almonds. Add the sweetener and salt, and mix.

Grate in the butter, stopping to turn it into the nuts, etc, every so often. When it is all in, mix the topping by hand until the butter is well distributed throughout – there should be no dry bits left – and forming small clumps. Sprinkle the flavouring extract over and mix it in.

Make the Filling & Finish:
4 cups haskap berries
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons minute tapioca

Wash the haskaps and pick them over, discarding any bad berries, leaves, or prominent stems. Butter the baking dish (9″ x 9″ or 8″ x 10″ or other 1 1/2 litre shallow baking pan), leaving any excess butter in the bottom. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Measure the honey and water and heat together (the microwave, for about 20 seconds works well) until warm and liquid and easily blended. Mix in the tapioca and sugar, and toss the berries with the this mixture. Spread it all out evenly in the prepared pan.

Spread the topping evenly over the berries and bake for 30 to 40 minutes at 350°, until lightly browned and bubbling. Let cool to just warm or room temperature before serving. 

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