In Costa Rica the plum season and the quetzal bird season overlap- how lucky is that? If you’re not familiar with either the quetzal bird or Costa Rican plums, you’re missing out. The quetzal is an amazing creature and has been a fascination of mine since my parents used to frequent Guatemala back in the 1980s. We used to have plenty of handmade little quetzals on our Christmas tree because, as my mother told it, my father could not resist buying the little handmade birds from any kid who approached him on the street. Full disclosure, I have not yet seen a quetzal in the wild, although one of my fellow teachers posted a picture of one that was hanging out in our school parking lot. April and May are reportedly the best months to spot the quetzal- due to mating habits. To learn more about the Quetzal and its Costa Rican habitat, click here.
Back to the plums and the crisp. The plums (las ciruelas) in Costa Rica are small, sweet, and delicious. Their small size makes prepping them (peeling and de-pitting) a bit of a pain, but it was well worth it. I’ve made quite a few crisps, cobblers, buckles and the likes in my years of cooking, but what I like about this version is that it is firm and can be cut and served in a bar or square, which also means that it travels well (it would be great for a picnic dessert…maybe for when you are on a quetzal spotting hike), and it is made with coconut oil, so it’s vegan. You could substitute any stone fruit, as long as it’s not too juicy (if you use something really juicy, mix in a sprinkling of flour or corn starch to your fruit before layering it).
- 2 Cups Diced Stone Fruit (skin and pit removed)
- 2 1/2 Cups Oats
- 1/4 Cup Flour
- 3/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar
- 1/4 tsp. Salt
- 3/4 Cup Coconut Oil (in solid form)
Preheat oven to 375 Degrees F (190c). In a large bowl, combine oats, flour, brown sugar and salt- mix well. Add the solid coconut oil and work it into the dry mixture using a fork, pastry cutter, or your hands- mix until it resembles large crumbs.
Add half of the mixture to the bottom of a 9×9 pan and use your fingers to press it down so it forms a firm layer.
Bake for 15 minutes until lightly browned. In the meantime, prepare the fruit by removing the skins and the pits and cutting into small dice. If your fruit is very juicy, add a sprinkling of flour and mix through. Add fruit to top of bottom layer of crisp mixture and then top with remaining crisp mixture- gently pat down top layer to firm it up a bit.
Bake for an additional 25 minutes (fruit should appear bubbly and top layer should be lightly browned). Allow to cool entirely if you want to cut into bars. Enjoy while birdwatching. 🙂