Baked fruit casseroles are a favorite food memory for me. They always appeared at holiday buffets, usually when a ham was the centerpiece. Recipes for baked fruit are ubiquitous in community cookbooks, and I was particularly fond of a curried fruit casserole recipe that has always been a favorite around here. But my mom made a version that involved amaretti cookies, which became a family favorite, though the cookies were not always easy to find in shops. When I became the principal cook for family gatherings, I still asked my mom to make that casserole, especially for Christmas brunch, and she always obliges.
Eventually, I decided that as it is such a big food memory for me, I ought to share it. But as a professional recipe developer, I knew I wanted to put my own spin on it. Enter spicy Biscoff cookies, once a special treat only procured in Europe or on airlines, but now available widely. I’m generally not a fan of canned fruit, but in this classic recipe, I make an exception, because this dish holds such a place in my memory. A nice dose of spice gives this version a special holiday kick.
Spiced Baked Fruit Casserole
2 (15.25 ounce) cans pineapple chunks
1 (15.25 ounce) can sliced peaches
1 (15.25 ounce) can sliced pears
1 (15.25 ounce) can apricot halves
1 (15.25 ounce) can dark sweet cherries
1 cup speculoos cookie crumbs (such as Biscoff), from about ½ a package
1 teaspoon corn starch
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1. Drain the pineapple, peaches pears and apricots. Spread the fruit in a greased 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Drain and rinse the cherries (do not drain the with the other fruit, the juice will stain). Lightly toss the fruit with the cornstarch and the cookie crumbs. I find my good clean hands to be the best tool for this. Arrange the cherries amongst the fruit.
2. Melt the brown sugar, butter and spices together in a saucepan, just until the sugar and butter are melted and combined. Pour over the fruit. Gently stir the fruit, being careful not to break it up. Don’t worry about coating it fully with the brown sugar mixture. Make sure the cherries are distributed throughout the dish; they tend to congregate.
3. You can bake it immediately at 350 degrees F. for 30 minutes until bubbly and heated through, or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Remove the dish from the fridge for about 20 minutes before baking to get the chill off.
Related post on The Runaway Spoon: Christmas Fruit Salad