Gluten-Free Holiday Snack: Simple & Crisp's Dried-Fruit 'Crackers'
Jane Yuan never thought that one day grocery and retail powerhouses Williams-Sonoma and Dean & DeLuca would be selling the fruit crisps she created for friends in her Mount Baker kitchen. But when those friends, including bartenders and chefs, urged her to take her naturally gluten-free, super-thin dried-fruit wafers to market, the 33-year-old former publicist and marketing consultant launched Simple & Crisp (simpleandcrisp.com). A little more than eight months later, four employees and Yuan are selecting, hand-slicing, drying and packing apples and pears from Washington and blood oranges and oranges from California in a small commercial kitchen in SoDo.
While the crisps are tasty on their own—the concentrated sugars from the drying make the orange slices taste almost like candy—it’s the pairings that thrill Yuan. As chief pairing purveyor, she collaborates with local food and beverage artisans. “They’re the lead, and I’m the costar,” explains Yuan, adding that it’s like “giving Picasso a new color and seeing how he uses it.” The folks at Trophy Cupcakes topped apple crisps with caramel buttercream frosting, sea salt and a caramel drizzle, and Yuan ground orange crisps with Stumptown coffee for a flavorful brew. But her favorite pairing featuring a local product is Beecher’s Flagship cheese drizzled with spicy jam over any of her fruits.
For holiday appetizers, Yuan suggests combining honey-glazed ham on an orange crisp with cheese and a dab of mustard or topping a blood orange crisp with smoked salmon and mascarpone cheese. For dessert, treat your guests to an apple crisp with a dollop of vanilla ice cream and a pinch of cinnamon; it tastes just like apple pie. A pear crisp with blue cheese and caramelized walnuts offers a tasty finish to a meal as well.
Crisps also add a dash of flavor to drinks, such as an apple crisp garnishing the rim of mulled wine, an orange crisp floating in Champagne or a pear crisp steeped in a blended fruit tea. Or just cozy up to a mug of hot chocolate with a cocoa-sprinkled blood orange crisp floating on top.
Note that Simple & Crisp fruit wafers keep best when stored in a cool dry place after opening, but good luck having any leftovers.
Simple & Crisp fruits (approximately 30 slices, $8.99; and 15, $4.99 online; retail prices vary) are available at DeLaurenti and Beecher’s Handmade Cheese at Pike Place Market, PCC Natural Markets, Whole Foods and Williams-Sonoma.
*Additional pairings added to the online version of this story.