Do you crave dessert but prefer less sugar and, in tandem, less guilt? Do you gravitate toward recipes that bake in no time and don’t heat your balmy summer kitchen much? Then you’re in luck, because the diverse universe of quick, easy and, coincidentally, lower- sugar cobblers and crisps has you covered.

Summery-souled, fruity cobblers and crisps have been around since Colonial days, when British and European settlers brought their recipes with them. Those bakers were adept at using what was seasonally copious, combining it with a few pantry ingredients for a sweet course that was satisfying and, as far as desserts go, nutritious.

The variations in toppings — crumbles, crisps, batter and biscuit dough — probably stemmed from regional and cultural preferences, as well as what a baker had on hand. Extra pie trimmings or leftover biscuit dough might do double duty as a cobbler top, while a nub of butter with some brown sugar and oats made a quick crisp topping. What these toppings had in common was that they were all pantry-friendly: sugar, butter, milk or buttermilk, flour or oatmeal, and a touch of cinnamon or spice.

One person’s crisp is another’s brown betty; a cobbler might be called a buckle by someone else, but there are slight differences. They are all similar desserts with different names. What they have in common is they are fruit-based, baked in a skillet or casserole, and have a topping but not a bottom.

Crisps, crumbles and betties all feature a crisp and clumpy topping of butter, sugar, flour and/or oatmeal. Cobblers are topped with a biscuit, pie dough or soft batter, with the dough or batter dolloped on top of the fruit. Buckles, the precursors to present-day coffeecakes, are similar to cobblers, but the fruit is generally folded in.

There are also a slew of derivatives — from grunts and slumps to sonkers and pandowdies — all homespun desserts of fruit and something floury and sweet to tie it all together.

At the outset, cobblers and their kin were naturally low in sugar, and palates were accustomed to the natural sweetness of fruit, which might have been sweetened with just a little sugar, honey or maple syrup. As sugar became more widely available, the national sweet tooth exponentially increased, and recipes began to echo this addiction. If you look at a cake, cookie or cobbler recipe from the late 19th century, you will find far less sugar than in those of the late 20th century.

In giving these recipes a contemporary, less-sugary reboot, it was a cinch to go back to their roots and not only reduce the sugar but also find little hacks to bring out the natural sweetness of the fruit.

One trick was to precook the fruit to concentrate the sweetness. This was a breeze in the Strawberry Roasted Rhubarb Crisp, as you just scatter the rhubarb on a baking sheet with a trace of sugar and roast it to a deep-flavored, tart sweetness before adding it to the rest of the ingredients.

In other cases, using honey in place of some of the sugar helped to reduce the overall sugar. Sugar helps fruit thicken, which you can compensate for by adding a touch of thickener, such as cornstarch or arrowroot, which is a bit more neutral in taste. Another trick I relied on was sprinkling a scant tablespoon of turbinado sugar on top of the Peach Apricot Buttermilk Cobbler. That small amount made the cobbler a touch sweeter, sure, but also added a beautiful sparkle to the top.

Fresh fruit is always preferable, but if you make these recipes in the winter, frozen fruit (not defrosted) will work. With blueberries, I prefer to use cultivated berries, which have more pulp and make fruitier fillings. But you can also throw in a handful of wild blueberries to add a little zing.

This style of baking is just the thing when you’re pressed for time and have an overflow of farm-stand fruit — be it ripe plums, blushing rhubarb, juicy peaches, nectarines or jewel-like berries begging to be put into service. Cobblers and crisps are essentially a baker’s mix-and-match game of a fruit filling and topping. And they’re equal opportunity fare for both confident and casual bakers. So, find a favorite fruit, match a topping and enjoy your wholesome — but still decadent — dessert.

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Peach Apricot Buttermilk Cobbler

Serves 8 to 10

For the filling

½ cup (65 grams) dried apricots

2/3 cup (160 milliliters) boiling water

4 medium peaches (475 grams), halved, pitted and cut into eighths (about 3 cups)

5 apricots (400 grams), pitted and quartered (about 2½ cups)

¼ cup (60 milliliters) fresh orange juice (from 1 orange)

3 tablespoons granulated or light brown sugar, firmly packed

1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot powder

For the topping

1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose or whole-wheat flour

¼ cup (50 or 60 grams) granulated or light brown sugar, firmly packed

1½ teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon fine sea or kosher salt

¼ cup (60 grams) unsalted butter, melted

¼ cup (60 milliliters) buttermilk or Greek yogurt

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon turbinado sugar

Heat the oven to 350 F. Butter or spray an 8-inch square pan.

For the filling: Place the dried apricots in a small bowl and cover with the boiling water. Let stand until softened, about 10 minutes. Drain, dry and then finely mince the apricots.

In a medium bowl, mix the reconstituted apricots, peaches, fresh apricots, orange juice, sugar and cornstarch (or arrowroot powder). Gently toss to combine and transfer to the prepared baking dish.

For the topping: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Using a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, stir in the melted butter, then the buttermilk or yogurt, egg and vanilla until combined. The topping mixture will be thick and sticky.

Drop dollops of the topping over the fruit. Dust with the turbinado sugar.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the topping turns light golden brown. Serve warm.

Nutrition information per serving (based on 10 servings) — calories: 200; total fat: 6 g; saturated fat: 4 g; cholesterol: 35 mg; sodium: 115 mg; carbohydrates: 34 g; dietary fiber: 2 g; sugars: 18 g; protein: 3 g.

From food writer and cookbook author Marcy Goldman.

* * *

Bumbleberry Crumble

Serves 6 to 8

For the topping

1½ cups (145 grams) old-fashioned oatmeal

1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose or white whole-wheat flour

½ cup (120 grams) light brown sugar, firmly packed

1/8 teaspoon fine sea or kosher salt

½ cup (8 tablespoons/113 grams) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch dice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the filling

2 cups (270 grams) blackberries

2 cups (300 grams) blueberries

2 cups (250 grams) raspberries

1 cup (125 grams) pitted fresh or frozen cherries, halved

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/3 cup (67 grams) sugar

1 tablespoon mild honey

1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot powder

Heat oven to 350 F. Generously spray a 3-quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

For the topping: In a medium bowl, combine the oatmeal, flour, sugar and salt. Using a pastry cutter, work in the butter until the mixture is crumbly and the butter pieces are pea-size. Stir in the vanilla.

For the filling: In another medium bowl, toss the blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, cherries and lemon juice together. Sprinkle in the sugar, add the honey and cornstarch (or arrowroot powder), and, using a wood spoon, stir to combine. Spoon the fruit into the prepared baking dish and then top as evenly as possible with the oatmeal mixture.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until fruit starts to bubble around the edges and the topping turns golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and let the cool for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

Nutrition information per serving (based on 8 servings) — calories: 390; total fat: 13 g; saturated fat: 8 g; cholesterol: 30 mg; sodium: 20 mg; carbohydrates: 66 g; dietary fiber: 7 g; sugars: 35 g; protein: 5 g.

From food writer and cookbook author Marcy Goldman.

* * *

Strawberry Roasted Rhubarb Crisp

Serves 6 to 8

For the fruit

3 cups (375 grams) rhubarb chopped in 1-inch pieces, from about 1½ medium stalks

3 tablespoons light brown sugar, firmly packed

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

2 cups (300 grams) small strawberries (halved, if berries are large), hulled

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons mild honey

2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot powder

For the topping

¾ cup (65 grams) old-fashioned oats

¾ cup (94 grams) all-purpose or white whole-wheat flour

1/3 cup (75 grams) light brown sugar, firmly packed

A pinch fine sea or kosher salt

4 tablespoons (60 grams) unsalted butter

Half-and-half, for serving (optional)

For the rhubarb: Heat the oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the rhubarb on the baking sheet and add the brown sugar and orange juice, tossing gently with your hands to coat the pieces. Roast the rhubarb about 20 minutes, or until it has softened and juices run on the pan. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 F.

Transfer the rhubarb to a 2½- to 3-quart oven-safe casserole dish and add the strawberries and vanilla. Toss gently to combine, then add the honey and cornstarch (or arrowroot powder) and gently stir to combine.

For the topping: In a large bowl, combine the oats, flour, sugar and salt. Using a pastry cutter or your fingertips, work in the butter to make a rough, crumbly mixture.

Spread the topping mixture evenly over the fruit. Bake 35 to 45 minutes, or until the fruit is bubbling around the edges. Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest 5 minutes before serving. Serve warm, as is, or with half-and-half.

Nutrition information per serving (based on 8 servings) calories: 230; total fat: 7 g; saturated fat: 5 g; cholesterol: 15 mg; sodium: 40 mg; carbohydrates: 40 g; dietary fiber: 3 g; sugars: 21 g; protein: 3 g.

From food writer and cookbook author Marcy Goldman.

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