For all of you who are cooking for your moms and/or wives this Mother’s Day, I’ve got your dessert covered! This strawberry crisp tastes like a burst of sunshine and yet is easy enough for anybody to master (I’ve even included a video at the bottom of this page showing you exactly how to make it!). It comes together in under an hour using mostly pantry staples, and I promise it will earn you mega brownie points with the important ladies in your life.
When I was growing up, we celebrated my mom’s birthday (which falls around the second Sunday in May) on the same day as Mother’s Day, meaning she’d get one Mother’s Day/birthday celebration instead of both (which, in hindsight, was entirely unfair). In my memories, it always felt like the first taste of spring. My dad would cook steaks or fish on the grill, and we’d eat outside on the back deck. Dessert would often consist of a strawberry pie from Bakers Square (that good old Midwestern institution), or strawberries and whipped cream over store-bought shortcakes.
Now that I think about it, my tradition with James is surprisingly similar. He cooks dinner on the grill; we usually eat outside; and we often finish with a strawberry dessert. Even though it’s not quite strawberry season here in NY, come May I can’t hold out any longer and splurge on organic berries from California. This has been at quite the cost this year, as Juniper has fallen head-over-heels in love with the ruby beauties, and she and Ella can easily knock out a quart in two days.
Our Mother’s Day desserts are usually pretty simple. While James isn’t much of a baker, he makes a mean strawberry sundae, and last year he defrosted an almond coconut cake from the freezer and piled it with berries and whipped cream.
While there are similarities between my Mother’s Day celebrations and my mom’s of years past, there are two major differences: a) I don’t have to share the day with my birthday; and b) she likely needed the day off much more than I do. Not only did the woman have a full time job as an elementary school teacher, but she also managed to take care of all of the cooking, housecleaning and chauffeuring that went into raising three active kids (one season my brothers and I had 80 sports games between us!) with a husband who traveled extensively for work. Between our crazy schedules, her work (which she was passionately devoted to), and all of the domestic stuff that she was responsible for, she often didn’t get a chance to sit and relax until well after nine at night.
Today, times are different. James and I share all of the household responsibilities and child-rearing duties. Life is undoubtedly busy, but there are none of the gender role expectations that existed just thirty years ago. While Mother’s Day is awesome, it’s really not all that different from any other Sunday except for the fact that Ella makes me some killer cards, and I get to watch James cook for me. I’m incredibly grateful for this. Just as I’m incredibly grateful for that superwoman I’m lucky enough to call Mom.
While I now live 800 miles from my mom and haven’t been able to spend Mother’s Day with her in close to a decade, I did get to spend last week with her. She visited us for a few days, and we tried to spoil her (although admittedly not nearly as much as she spoiled her grandkids) with homemade meals. The fist night she was here we capped off dinner with this strawberry crisp, which I adapted from my Apple-Pecan Crisp recipe. I’m slightly obsessed with the topping, which is made right in a food processor with whole oats, spices, pecans and butter (or you could use coconut oil for a vegan variation), as it makes everything it touches ten times more delicious. Here it gets sprinkled on top of vanilla-flecked strawberries and then baked until the berries are bubbling and the topping is crispy and nutty. Topped with whipped cream or ice cream, it will make you (or your mom, or your wife) very, very happy.
Oh, and guess what? This year my mom will finally get a separate birthday celebration of her very own! My dad is throwing her a party, and my brothers and our spouses and our kids will be coming together to spoil her for a day. While I’d like to say that my mom won’t have to lift a finger, knowing her and the nine grandchildren (who are enamored with their “Mimi”), she’ll more than likely have her hands quite full. But I don’t think she’d want it any other way.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of you moms out there!
Get the Recipe!
Strawberry Crisp (Gluten-Free, Vegan Option)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter , plus more for greasing
- 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (regular or gluten-free), divided
- ¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar , divided
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch freshly ground nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅓ cup pecans
- ½ vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 pounds strawberries , hulled and quartered
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream , for serving (optional)
- Position a rack in the upper third of the oven, and preheat it to 375˚F. Butter an 8-by-8-inch or similar sized baking dish.
- In a mini food processor, add ½ cup of the oats and process to the texture of a coarse flour. Add ¼ cup of the brown sugar, the cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Process to combine. Add the pecans and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the remaining ½ cup of oats and pulse to combine.
- Melt 4 tablespoons of butter, and pour it over the mixture in the processor. Pulse until the butter is distributed and the mixture looks damp.
- Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds using the back of a knife. Toss the strawberries with the vanilla seeds, the remaining 3 tablespoons brown sugar, and the cornstarch. Transfer to the baking dish. Sprinkle the crisp topping evenly on top.
- Bake in the upper third of the oven for 40 minutes, or until the berries are bubbling and the topping is golden brown. Cool slightly before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature, with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if you wish. Do Ahead: The crisp can be stored at room temperature for up to 6 hours. Store any leftovers in the fridge for breakfast.