Store-Bought Oatmeal Is The Easiest Way To Elevate Streusels And Crisps

One of the easiest ways to dress up delicious summer fruit is by preparing a crisp or crumble. All you need to do is mix your preferred produce with some sugar and then cover it with a blend of oats, sugar, spices, and butter, which will form that signature crunchy crust in the oven. Oats are also a key ingredient in crumbly and rich streusel toppings that can be the crowning glory for muffins, quick breads, or other sweets, like this cranberry walnut streusel bars recipe.

There's a convenient store-bought trick to elevate these treats to an entirely new level, while also simplifying the recipe preparation. Just grab a packet of instant oatmeal, and you'll significantly reduce your ingredient list, as well as the time it takes to assemble your topping. The genius of this baking hack lies in the fact that this single packet contains nearly all the components required for a deliciously easy streusel or crumble crust. Additionally, they're available in a variety of flavors, offering a plethora of effortless dessert possibilities.

Match your oatmeal to your dessert

When at the grocery store, keep in mind that instant oats are just one type of oatmeal found in the breakfast aisle — different kinds of oats are ideal for various desserts. Quick-cooking oats, which have been steamed and rolled thin for speedy preparation without any added sweeteners or spices, are great for shortcut recipes where the oats don't need to cook too long in the oven. Old-fashioned rolled oats provide great texture, and are the best oats for chewy oatmeal cookies. Finally, steel-cut or Irish oats are coarse and fiber-rich; they have a delightful nutty flavor, and take the longest to cook. They can also work in certain cookie recipes, but they must be precooked to soften them before being added to the batter.

If time and energy are at a premium, grabbing a box of instant oatmeal packets will really pay off. Simply empty a packet into a bowl, then cube up some cold butter, and use your hands or a pastry blender to combine. It will eventually have a crumbly texture, similar to wet sand. That's when it's ready to be spooned on top of your favorite fruit, and popped into the oven. One packet is perfect for an easy dessert for two, or you could use up to four packets for enough to serve a crowd from a 10-inch skillet or cake pan.

Streusel and other uses for instant oatmeal

Ultimately, instant oats are the best choice for quick and easy desserts due to their fine texture and flavor options. If you want to jazz up your next batch of muffins, prepare the instant oats with cold butter just as you would for making a crisp. Then, simply sprinkle them on top of the muffin batter before baking, and voilà!

They also work well for no-bake snack balls, where the oats can be combined with nuts or seeds, along with binders like honey or peanut butter, to make energy boosters that are fun to pop in your mouth when you need a pick-me-up. Additionally, they are an excellent choice for the crust of a no-bake cheesecake or pie. All you need to do is mix the instant oats with a little melted butter, and press into the bottom of the pan to create a great base for building an exciting dessert.