Plum crisp with cornmeal streusel and Bourbon crème fraîche

Plum crisp with cornmeal streusel and Bourbon crème fraîche

Tangy, crunchy, and boozily luscious

This mouthwatering crisp is made with two ingredients the U.S. South is well known for – Bourbon and cornmeal. As it happens, these two ingredients pair incredibly well with ripe plums!

The cornmeal finds its way into the streusel that adorns the sweet-yet-tangy fruits. Along with the crystalline turbinado sugar, it gives the topping a marvelous crunch. The Bourbon ends up in the luscious crème fraîche, and it ties all the elements of the dessert together in a delicious knot.

A love affair with Italian plums

The plums I always use to make this crisp are the purplish Italian prune plums (also called Empress plums). They’re small and egg-shaped, with a sweet yellow flesh, but their skins are tangy and make your saliva glands tingle when you bite into one. It’s that juicy acidity that makes these plums so wonderful to cook with. Because of my love affair with the petite fruit, I haven’t made this crisp with other kinds of plums yet. But my guess is that it would be great with just about any variety.

Here’s wishing you a fantastic time baking this delicious crisp!

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Plum crisp with cornmeal streusel and Bourbon crème fraîche

serves 6
active time: 30 min

For the crème fraîche

  1. 1/3 cup heavy cream
  2. 2 tablespoons organic sugar
  3. 2 tablespoons Bourbon
  4. 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  5. 1/2 cup crème fraîche

For the fruits

  1. 2 1/2 lbs (1.1 kg) prune plums – unpeeled, pits removed and quartered
  2. 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  3. 1/2 cup turbinado sugar
  4. 1 tablespoon cornstarch

For the crisp topping

  1. 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  2. 1/2 cup cornmeal
  3. 1/3 cup turbinado sugar
  4. pinch sea salt
  5. 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  6. 6 tablespoons unsalted butter – cold
  1. 6 one-cup-capacity ramequins – lightly buttered or 1 medium ceramic baking dish (12″ x 9″) – lightly buttered

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC).
  2. Step 1: For the crème fraîche – Place the heavy cream, sugar, Bourbon and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat at medium speed until the cream is thick. Add the crème fraîche and continue to beat for a few seconds at slow speed until just incorporated. Transfer to a container and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  3. Step 2: Place the plum slices in a large bowl. Sprinkle with the lemon juice, sugar and cornstarch and stir until well incorporated. Spoon into the prepared individual molds (or single mold) and set aside.
  4. Step 3: Place the flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process until well blended. Add the vanilla and chunks of butter and pulse until coarse crumbs form and start to come together (do not over-process or the mixture will form a dough). Sprinkle the streusel on top of the fruits. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the streusel is golden-brown and the fruits are bubbly. Remove from oven and let cool until warm. Serve the individual crisps in their molds with a dollop of the Bourbon crème fraîche.
  5. Cook’s note: The crisps can be made up to 6 hours ahead and kept at room temperature. To serve, preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC) and bake for 6 to 8 minutes until just warmed. Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to two days, although the topping will lose its crunch.

Italian prune plums - Empress plums

dessert, crisp, plum, bourbon


  1. I have a prune plum tree so I can’t wait to try this—what kind of cornmeal do you recommend? Would medium grind work? Thank you so much!

    • Viviane Bauquet Farre

      Hello ELizabeth, I realize that plum season is now over – my apologies for this late reply! You could use medium or fine cornmeal in this recipe. The medium will give you a more crunchy/chunky crumb. I hope the recipe turned out delicious with your plums!

  2. I love prune plums! I haven’t found any yet this year, but I’m keeping watch for them. The cornmeal streusel and bourbon creme fraiche sound like delicious accompaniments to them!

  3. I very seldom cook with plums, but you’ve really inspired me this crisp. It looks so very tasty and easy at that. Thanks Viviane!

  4. Big points for the most original crisp! Cornmeal topping with plums! And I love bourbon, I would be so happy enjoying this for dessert!

  5. Pingback: Lemon-ricotta cheesecake with fresh figs and lavender syrup — food & style

  6. I like the idea of using cornmeal in the topping. We have some good, local organic cornmeal here so I’m definitely going to give it a try!

  7. What a glorious recipe to enjoy the Italian plums short season! There is nothing better than the fruit of late summer!

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