Five years ago, I ate a Huguenot torte in the 17th-century Charleston home of a friend of the South Carolina cookbook authors Matt and Ted Lee. After getting the basic idea of the recipe from the Lees (I may have actually begged them for it that very afternoon sitting in the parlor of that Pirate Alley home), I re-created a fruit version of the simple crisp the following week. I had never had one of these classic sweets before. The achingly perfect, meringue-like mantle of this classic pie is almost identical to the classic 19th-century Russian dessert referred to as Fallen Ruins. Fallen desserts resemble a hot mess when they are served, but you will want to make this for your family again and again. It proves that visual perfection isn’t a prerequisite for eating pleasure.
As a center-of-the-table family-style dessert, and one that can feature cherries, berries or apples in the fall (the classic fruit for this), it’s a versatile holiday favorite and one that I made at the cabin for the Fourth of July celebration last weekend. Get the Recipe